How IoT is transforming the way we live
From the humdrum to the hubristic, technology is transforming the way we live. Far from being mere buzzwords, many advances are effecting significant – and positive – change for people and businesses alike.
One of those is Internet of Things, or IoT.
“IoT is about solutions to fix business challenges and bring efficiencies to everyday life.” explains Colin Barrett, head of IoT with Vodafone Business Ireland. With 20 years-experience in the technology sector, he is best placed to speak about how these advances will alter the way we live and do business.
The term internet of things is somewhat abstract. “I get asked all the time what IoT means. There are different perceptions as to what it is because there is such a diverse range of benefits that it delivers.”
What is IoT and why is it important to business?
For the uninitiated, IoT is essentially a network of connected devices which are often all around us, and could be serving any type of functional purpose. When you combine IoT devices with automated systems, data can be gathered for analysis, environments can be monitored, alerts can be triggered, or actions can be remotely executed. But Barrett is adamant that IoT is not simply about connected technology; “it’s about the value or competitive advantage that, for example, Irish businesses can derive by capturing real time data across thousands of devices, vehicles, people or even livestock and then representing it in a way that gives them a digital advantage – be it a new revenue stream or cost efficiencies.”
“It’s also around societal transformation and making Irish communities’ lives easier,” he adds. “IoT is just the conduit and it’s therefore best described in the context of the real-world scenario it has made possible. It’s more about the value it delivers, than the technology.”
Powering society and enterprise
And this value from Vodafone IoT is evident in many everyday examples of its use. For example, if you buy a new car, it will likely have an IoT sim card embedded in it for SOS location services, infotainment subscription services and much more. Across Dublin, IoT powers digital bus stops to provide real-time schedules allowing city commuters to plan their journeys. It also connects thousands of on-street electric vehicle charging points nationwide and provides in-air digital services to the aviation industry.
Many Irish homes and businesses are kept secure with alarms and CCTV that are IoT connected for monitoring. And there are thousands of IoT water pressure sensors across Ireland’s water pipe network to help detect leaks and reduce water wastage. “Vodafone have been a pioneering IoT provider in Ireland for decades with hundreds of enterprise organisations leveraging our capability and experience” says Barrett.
IoT is also widely prevalent in the health sector; for example, IoT connectivity facilitates digitally connected ambulances across Ireland and other regions to help improve patient safety and critical transit. IoT availability has already revolutionised real-time remote telemedicine where wearable devices not only monitor patients, but also dynamically treat them. Wearable sensors employ IoT connectivity to allow independent living for older people.
Keeping abreast of energy costs
IoT is also aiding the shift towards sustainability and energy efficiency, helping to address many of the challenges this move presents, Barrett adds. For example, Vodafone Ireland has recently launched an IoT pilot initiative with the aim of lowering energy costs for Irish SMEs. “This monitors electricity consumption through sensors installed around the customer premises, such as air-con, lights, heating, power,” he explains. “It helps drive changes in behaviour, by alerting when energy usage threshold values are exceeded.”
So while there is clearly a commercial imperative, the societal benefits are also obvious. This aligns with Vodafone’s core principle of inclusion for all, Barrett says.