The Internet of things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.
The definition of the Internet of things has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. Traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems, automation (including home and building automation), and others all contribute to enabling the Internet of things. In the consumer market, IoT technology is most synonymous with products pertaining to the concept of the “smart home“, including devices and appliances (such as lighting fixtures, thermostats, home security systems and cameras, and other home appliances) that support one or more common ecosystems, and can be controlled via devices associated with that ecosystem, such as smartphones and smart speakers.
There are a number of serious concerns about dangers in the growth of IoT, especially in the areas of privacy and security, and consequently industry and governmental moves to address these concerns have begun including the development of international standards.
Also known as IIoT, industrial IoT devices acquire and analyze data from connected equipment, operational technology (OT), locations and people. Combined with operational technology (OT) monitoring devices, IIoT helps regulate and monitor industrial systems. Also, the same implementation can be carried out for automated record updates of asset placement in industrial storage units as the size of the assets can vary from a small screw till the whole motor spare part and misplacement of such assets can cause a percentile loss of manpower time and money.
The IoT can connect various manufacturing devices equipped with sensing, identification, processing, communication, actuation, and networking capabilities. Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control allow IoT to be used for industrial applications and smart manufacturing. IoT intelligent systems enable rapid manufacturing and optimization of new products, and rapid response to product demands.
Digital control systems to automate process controls, operator tools and service information systems to optimize plant safety and security are within the purview of the IIoT. IoT can also be applied to asset management via predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation, and measurements to maximize reliability. Industrial management systems can be integrated with smart grids, enabling energy optimization. Measurements, automated controls, plant optimization, health and safety management, and other functions are provided by networked sensors.
There are numerous IoT applications in farming such as collecting data on temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed, pest infestation, and soil content. This data can be used to automate farming techniques, take informed decisions to improve quality and quantity, minimise risk and waste, and reduce effort required to manage crops. For example, farmers can now monitor soil temperature and moisture from afar, and even apply IoT-acquired data to precision fertilisation programs.
In August 2018, Toyota Tsusho began a partnership with Microsoft to create fish farming tools using the Microsoft Azure application suite for IoT technologies related to water management. Developed in part by researchers from Kindai University, the water pump mechanisms use artificial intelligence to count the number of fish on a conveyor belt, analyze the number of fish, and deduce the effectiveness of water flow from the data the fish provide. The specific computer programs used in the process fall under the Azure Machine Learning and the Azure IoT Hub platforms.
Monitoring and controlling operations of sustainable urban and rural infrastructures like bridges, railway tracks and on- and offshore wind-farms is a key application of the IoT. The IoT infrastructure can be used for monitoring any events or changes in structural conditions that can compromise safety and increase risk. The IoT can benefit the construction industry by cost saving, time reduction, better quality workday, paperless workflow and increase in productivity. It can help in taking faster decisions and save money with Real-Time Data Analytics. It can also be used for scheduling repair and maintenance activities in an efficient manner, by coordinating tasks between different service providers and users of these facilities. IoT devices can also be used to control critical infrastructure like bridges to provide access to ships. Usage of IoT devices for monitoring and operating infrastructure is likely to improve incident management and emergency response coordination, and quality of service, up-times and reduce costs of operation in all infrastructure related areas. Even areas such as waste management can benefit from automation and optimization that could be brought in by the IoT.
Metropolitan scale deployments
There are several planned or ongoing large-scale deployments of the IoT, to enable better management of cities and systems. For example, Songdo, South Korea, the first of its kind fully equipped and wired smart city, is gradually being built, with approximately 70 percent of the business district completed as of June 2018. Much of the city is planned to be wired and automated, with little or no human intervention.
Another application is a currently undergoing project in Santander, Spain. For this deployment, two approaches have been adopted. This city of 180,000 inhabitants has already seen 18,000 downloads of its city smartphone app. The app is connected to 10,000 sensors that enable services like parking search, environmental monitoring, digital city agenda, and more. City context information is used in this deployment so as to benefit merchants through a spark deals mechanism based on city behavior that aims at maximizing the impact of each notification.
Other examples of large-scale deployments underway include the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City; work on improving air and water quality, reducing noise pollution, and increasing transportation efficiency in San Jose, California; and smart traffic management in western Singapore. Using its RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) technology, San Diego-based Ingenu has built a nationwide public network for low-bandwidth data transmissions using the same unlicensed 2.4 gigahertz spectrum as Wi-Fi. Ingenu’s “Machine Network” covers more than a third of the US population across 35 major cities including San Diego and Dallas. French company, Sigfox, commenced building an Ultra Narrowband wireless data network in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014, the first business to achieve such a deployment in the U.S. It subsequently announced it would set up a total of 4000 base stations to cover a total of 30 cities in the U.S. by the end of 2016, making it the largest IoT network coverage provider in the country thus far. Cisco also participates in smart cities projects. Cisco has started deploying technologies for Smart Wi-Fi, Smart Safety & Security, Smart Lighting, Smart Parking, Smart Transports, Smart Bus Stops, Smart Kiosks, Remote Expert for Government Services (REGS) and Smart Education in the five km area in the city of Vijaywada.
Another example of a large deployment is the one completed by New York Waterways in New York City to connect all the city’s vessels and be able to monitor them live 24/7. The network was designed and engineered by Fluidmesh Networks, a Chicago-based company developing wireless networks for critical applications. The NYWW network is currently providing coverage on the Hudson River, East River, and Upper New York Bay. With the wireless network in place, NY Waterway is able to take control of its fleet and passengers in a way that was not previously possible. New applications can include security, energy and fleet management, digital signage, public Wi-Fi, paperless ticketing and others.
Significant numbers of energy-consuming devices (e.g. lamps, household appliances, motors, pumps, etc.) already integrate Internet connectivity, which can allow them to communicate with utilities not only to balance power generation but also helps optimize the energy consumption as a whole. These devices allow for remote control by users, or central management via a cloud-based interface, and enable functions like scheduling (e.g., remotely powering on or off heating systems, controlling ovens, changing lighting conditions etc.). The smart grid is a utility-side IoT application; systems gather and act on energy and power-related information to improve the efficiency of the production and distribution of electricity. Using advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) Internet-connected devices, electric utilities not only collect data from end-users, but also manage distribution automation devices like transformers.
Environmental monitoring applications of the IoT typically use sensors to assist in environmental protection by monitoring air or water quality, atmospheric or soil conditions, and can even include areas like monitoring the movements of wildlife and their habitats. Development of resource-constrained devices connected to the Internet also means that other applications like earthquake or tsunami early-warning systems can also be used by emergency services to provide more effective aid. IoT devices in this application typically span a large geographic area and can also be mobile. It has been argued that the standardization IoT brings to wireless sensing will revolutionize this area.
Another example of integrating the IoT is Living Lab which integrates and combines research and innovation process, establishing within a public-private-people-partnership. There are currently 320 Living Labs that use the IoT to collaborate and share knowledge between stakeholders to co-create innovative and technological products. For companies to implement and develop IoT services for smart cities, they need to have incentives. The governments play key roles in smart cities projects as changes in policies will help cities to implement the IoT which provides effectiveness, efficiency, and accuracy of the resources that are being used. For instance, the government provides tax incentives and cheap rent, improves public transports, and offers an environment where start-up companies, creative industries, and multinationals may co-create, share common infrastructure and labor markets, and take advantages of locally embedded technologies, production process, and transaction costs. The relationship between the technology developers and governments who manage city’s assets, is key to provide open access of resources to users in an efficient way.