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The Internet of what?

The Internet of Things (IoT), and in our world the ongoing translation into Smart Cities is bandied around like confetti these days.

But how much do we truly understand what this means for us as companies and as individuals? There’s so much scope that we must be forgiven in struggling to understand what this could entail. And how much do we really need to know? Is it enough to just assume it will happen?

Assuming the IoT is here to stay, what exactly does this include?

You can find plenty of blogs and commentary online but the best explanation we’ve found so far is a simple one: if it has an on/off switch then it’s likely to be part of the IoT. TechWeek Europe have also produced their version of what the IoT could mean in the future.

More widely there have been more than 10 major IoT-related mergers and acquisitions in 2016 already, according to a study released by Strategy Analytics last month.

With such significant investment in this area by major technology firms including Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony it’s fair to assume that this is a market that will explode in growth in coming years, with technology continuing to play a dominant role in our home and work lives.

And whilst we as consumers can perhaps expect the IoT to become more prevalent in our lives just through the continuing integration of technology into the goods we purchase, we should also be mindful that as manufacturers and innovators we have a responsibility to consider how the IoT could affect our products in the coming years.

Matt Turck gives a nice overview on the impacts to consider as a producer of goods, which includes a wonderful landscape image showing where vehicles and infrastructure could sit in the new IoT world. Essentially Smart Cities are just a small(ish) part of a much, much bigger picture!

How can we as an industry make it easier to understand?

Don’t worry – it will happen anyway?

It will happen, but it could happen more quickly and evenly with a dedicated effort to promote the benefits to users and address any concerns around data privacy and ease of use.

Show and tell?

Early adopter use can shed light on how it can be made easier to understand. An analysis of IoT user behaviour for Harvard Business Review found that IoT platforms designed to make home life easier are the most used by early adopters of personal IoT technology.

Key areas where IoT is being used by individuals are: security, self-monitoring/ improvement, control of home appliances, and creative ways to enhance our environment. Feedback from these early adopters is that the more this technology can be integrated into their daily lives and become “living services” the more quickly it will be adopted.

This means avoiding manual programming of devices and building intelligence into devices so that they anticipate their user’s needs.

In our smart City world it seems to be that automated cars are the hot topic—not a month goes by without a manufacturer releasing their own car and plans. And over the coming years it seems we will get automated cars whether we like it or not!

On a more localised perspective we need to continue along solution orientated thinking, such as linking up previously disparate functions such as our A78 Fairlie traffic light solution, but perhaps applying it on a bigger, city wide scale.

Promote it more?

Given the benefits to both consumers and citizens, the UK government is actively looking to promote investment in IoT industries and considering a consumer information campaign to highlight the potential benefits of the IoT.

The Government has also recently published its Innovation Strategy and we would encourage comprehensive and regular coverage of the successes of the scheme over the coming years.

Adopt it quicker?

The IoT is poised for rapid growth in industries. It’s forecast that companies spending on IoT will increase 19% on average through 2018. And it is likely individuals will integrate it into their working lives first, before taking it into the home.

So the IoT is definitely on its way and it is very much up to us as industry leaders to ensure that our businesses are focused and ready to adapt our products and services to include and push forward an integrated future.

Do you think the road industry is doing enough to adopt the IoT? Contact us to let us know.

For more on the IoT see our previous blog post: IoT’s three key secrets to success.

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: May 2016

Links: News / Commentary

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