I have to admit, I have been unsure what people mean when they say “the internet of things”, otherwise known as the IoT. I wasn’t sure if it was an actually thing or a concept or just simply a phrase meaning all things connected. According to Techhive, it seems like it is all three: a true internet of things is the seamless coordination between multiple devices. At it’s most basic, an example could be that you come home from work and your front light powers on, your door unlocks and your thermostat regulates to the appropriate level. At it’s most micromanaged, an example could be that you step on your scale, and your data gets transported to your refrigerator so that the next time you reach for that pint of ice cream, you get a notification of sorts asking you to possibly reconsider based on your recent weight and BMI data reported. Ouch!
Okay, I kind of like the fact that we could get everything that we use in our lives connected for a better tomorrow, as shown in this below image. What I don’t like is all the connection being held in one potential grid. How smart would this grid have to be? What if something goes wrong? Does everything then fail?
In last year’s World Economic Forum, Sonita Lontoh, Head of Marketing, Trilliant gave a powerful presentation about how the internet of things can change our life but all of the conversation surround the IoT is missing a key element – the need for a new set of public policies and then corresponding infrastructure to support it. A ‘smart’ grid applies the IoT and modernizes our ageing electric infrastructure. And by our, I mean many of the developing world’s electric infrastructure that has not been modernized since the 20th century.
Ms. Lontoh’s presentation at the WEF outlined three steps that would help design the most effective internet of things infrastructure:
- develop a long-term, comprehensive and sustainable policy: To do this, there needs to be a strong public-private partnership that is not based on party lines or election years. This also means channeling resources towards R&D, funding, manufacturing and human-capital training.
- Build a strong ecosystem: Industries need to collaborate to ensure that smart solutions can easily operate with one another.
- Educate consumers about the benefits: Consumers (like me) need to be educated about the values and long-term benefits.
It seems to me that while the IoT things seems to be in our near future, the infrastructure needed to support it, seems further away. Questions I have are: how can we get competing industries to work together for the common good of bettering work and lives? How can we get our political leaders to put aside “politics” and recognize the importance of building a new and improved smart infrastructure will go a long way with our global competitiveness?