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December 5, 2018
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Tiffany Houkom

The Internet of Things (IoT) Explained

Earlier this week we discussed about how various smart home devices can bring convenience and advanced safety to your home. These devices fall under the emerging category of IoT, or Internet of Things. Today we’re going to introduce the concept of IoT, and share the potential benefits it can bring to your home and the city you live in.

What is the IoT?

The concept of IoT was first introduced by Kevin Ashton in 1999, but technology is finally catching up, making this dream a reality. The most basic definition of IoT, according to Wired, is connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet and/or to each other. That means that everything from your cellphone, coffee maker, lightbulbs, wearable device, and refrigerator to large machines like oil rigs and airplane engines can be connected the expansive IoT network. Furthermore, Wikipedia defines IoT as a “network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator, and/or connected devices.”  

The growth of IoT

While still in its infancy, IoT is taking off quickly. In fact, there are currently more connected devices than there are people in the world. Gartner claims that 8.4 billion IoT devices were used in 2017, and estimates this will likely reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Of the current 8.4 billion connected devices, about half of them are consumer products like smart TVs and speakers.

Why IoT?

Just because a device can be connected, should it be? Forbes provides great examples on how random IoT-connected devices can one day change the everyday lives of consumers for the best.

“Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more? What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?”

Outside of the home, IoT allows us to create smarter, more efficient cities. Forbes goes on to explain how IoT can be used throughout cities to reduce waste, enhance safety, and improve energy efficiency. For example, IoT sensors could potentially be placed on bridges to detect structural issues like cracks, and immediately alert necessary officials.

Spain will become an experiment for the power of IoT as there are plans to place hundreds of thousands of sensors throughout the Balearic Islands. According to ZDNet, potential goals of this project “could involve the regional social-services department using the sensors to help the elderly, while another could identify if a beach has become too crowded and offer alternatives to swimmers.” The possibilities are truly endless.

Safety concerns

With this incredible technology comes significant safety concerns, as anything connected to the internet presents the risk of being hacked. Samsung released its Open Economy report, claiming there is a critical need for manufacturers to make these connected devices secure by 2020. While manufacturers are jumping on the train of connectivity, it’s important that they always prioritize security over innovation to prevent serious safety threats.

Discover how FRONTSTEPS is exploring the world of IOT by downloading your free copy of our whitepaper, Reinventing Security Technology in the Property Management Space.

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