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How new is the Internet of Things (IoT) really?

Is it just another buzzword? Another example of re-branding? The reality is that in certain sectors, the fundamental principles and workings of the Internet of Things (IoT) have been exploited for years.

The difference is that now with the advent of smart metering (and more recently smart thermostats and other new products) this is entering consumer territory, and so it needs more kerb appeal to ensure mass buy-in from the public.

Touch screen in use

Really, the Internet of Things is just about networks of remote devices (sensors) that are connected to the internet and providing a rich source of data in real-time to other connected systems.

Ultimately, these networks of sensors are providing data and information for people, organisations and other systems to consume – and in many cases, they support two-way interaction with those devices to enable remote configuration and control of the devices.

From this perspective, we have been a player in the IoT space for many years prior to the phrase really being popularised.

IoT is old news in the ITS space

In the Intelligent Transport Systems space, many of today’s traffic monitoring systems are founded on the basis that it would be implausible and completely uneconomical to accurately provide the level of traffic flow data in any other way than via a remote network of devices.

However, it has only really been in the last 7-10 years that improvements in data transmission rates via GPRS, 3G, and Ethernet have made this more viable.

Prior to this time, GSM-enabled you to send near real-time data, usually in aggregated form, perhaps sending an hour’s worth of data at a time – but now these restrictions no longer exist.

Having said that, we’ve all experienced times and ‘black hole’ locations whereby we can get no coverage either for data or voice calls on our smartphones, so even today universal coverage is not guaranteed.

Seasoned veterans in the exploitation of ‘big data’ from remote devices

Our inductive loop based count classifiers, which sit at the roadside collecting data on the volume, speed and type of traffic seen on the roads, have been providing data back to our web based MCentre platform for a number of years, recording up to 250 million vehicle movements a day.

That’s real BIG DATA. And now with Insight©, we have developed our second generation of IoT platform, based on the latest cloud technology, through which we can maximise the use of this wealth of information.

Learning from the challenges of the past and based on feedback from our customers as well as studying best practice in the business intelligence arena, Insight© has been designed from the ground up as a user configurable, highly flexible platform to ensure that customers can see data and information in the format they want, when they want it, wherever they want it.

This new platform offers a significant departure from many of the tired old grey screen Windows-type applications that have been the mainstay of the industry for years – and has even inspired others in the M2M/IoT space to follow suit.

IoT is ideal for pioneering new ways of working

Despite only being launched late last year, Insight© already has a number of customers benefitting from its use, many of whom have also taken the opportunity to take advantage of a new Data As A Service (DaaS) business model.

By paying a monthly subscription fee for access to the data, rather than the more traditional system purchase model, customers can pay for their data out of operating expenditure budgets rather than seeking vast sums from the capital expenditure budgets – and it enables a smooth predictable constant cost that is easier to account for and justify for budgeting purposes.

In addition, it means the customer can just focus their energies on exploring the data and maximising the benefit they can get from it, rather than spending most of their energies on maintaining the remote device network as that responsibility now sits with us as the data provider.

You can find out more about our IoT offering and Insight during our upcoming roadshows, which we are holding at several locations around the UK during October.

Free to attend, these events will also offer an opportunity to hear from some of our other expert speakers about road safety, how to tackle congestion, and the increase of sustainable travel. Click here for more information.

Author: |Date Published: August 2014

Links: Traffic Flow Monitoring

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