Have you heard, seen or read about the Internet of Things? It refers to the connectivity between devices that results in mass quantities of data. The idea is that this data can then contribute to shaping, improving and creating better things, including life. Just today it was announced that IBM will be investing $3 billion over four years into a new 2,000 person Internet of Things business unit. What will this business unit be doing?
Right now, IBM figures that up to 90% of the data generated by devices such as appliances, connected vehicles, smartphones and other connected devices is never analyzed.
“Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often, we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, commenting on the creation of the new division.
Sounds really smart, doesn’t it? And it is.
Now, imagine if the same kind of investment could be made in the data the public generates and was used to ensure better results?
At a time when city finances are under enormous pressure, Internet of Things technologies also provide a great opportunity to improve services and reduce costs – by doing things differently.
Many of the potential applications for Internet of Things are right in front of us. Think about the average street: there are waste bins, potholes, lighting, signalling, graffiti, parking, noise, traffic flow and air quality. All of these aspects interact with each other, and once you understand these interactions, you can start to influence behaviours, such as the way people use environments. For example a city could share information on the location of available parking spaces – helping people to find spaces faster – then monitor the impact through traffic flow and pollution sensors. The IoT also presents a huge opportunity to optimise the way that services are provided – so that bins are only emptied when full and streets are cleaned only when needed.
That’s from, “How the Internet of Things can make buildings and cities ‘smart’.” More food for thought in this 2011 UK-based article, “How the “internet of things” could radically change local government.” And stateside, one firm’s already got a roadmap for pursuing investment and action in terms of local governments.
And I’m betting it won’t take $3 billion to get started.