Thursday, 16 October 2014

Technology, used responsibly, can be both an accelerator and an enabler for the world of tomorrow.

Growing pervasiveness of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT):

We stand on the verge of a new wave of change transforming the plethora of devices in our physical world into a seamless extension of ourselves. IoT is making the concept of ‘One Entity’ a reality. We are in the age of any-time, any-place for any-one, to any-time, any-place for any-thing. At the core of IoT is to bring together people, data, process, and objects or things, and connect them to communicate smartly taking the user experience to a different level altogether. It also raises fundamental questions around geographical boundaries that determine our legal systems, and issues of personal privacy.

There are already more connected devices than people on the planet. According to a Gartner report, by 2020, there will be as many as 26 billion connected devices on this planet. A consequence of networked things is smarter processes and services, which can support our economies, environment and health.

Having established IoT’s business advantages, perhaps we must look at the developmental challenges, especially from the perspective of emerging economies. For countries like India which are largely agrarian, IoT can impact productivity through soil data through sensors, and meteorological data on rainfall. In the utilities sector usage analysis and prediction results in smart networks can result in substantial resource savings. However, these technologies will need to be low-cost and affordable for a scalable solution.

Another critical area is healthcare. IoT would enable a connected, cost-effective, easy-to-use, healthcare system that would focus on preventive measures rather than curative, facilitating monitoring of patients remotely, cutting down the number of visits to hospitals.

Many countries are pushing the envelope on leveraging IoT. As per the Global Information Technology report 2014 published jointly by INSEAD, Cornell University and World Economic Forum, the countries leading the Networked Readiness Index are the Netherlands, Switzerland, the US and the UK. London’s Heathrow is all set to become the first airport in the world to use IoT technology to re-wire the experience of catching a flight.

While the US and Europe are moving ahead, China is establishing its leadership as well. A dedicated unit called China Mobile Internet of Things Ltd has been established to develop IoT and three verticals in particular are being focused upon—energy, transport and smart cities. The future of IoT raises two important questions—security and governance. But even before that, it is important to be sensitised with some other related issues.

Due to multiple entities involved in IoT, it is important to understand as to who owns your private data and who has the right to monetise it.

Interoperability is the first basic challenge as IoT involves different technologies and systems, so it is important to have one standard approach. As devices are spread across numerous locations, it will be difficult to ensure the operation, remote management and updating these devices. Data processing, networking and storage will consume enormous amounts of energy, and disposal of devices which are not very easy to recycle will be a challenge. So there are environmental issues to think about.


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