It’s been a busy year in the world of the internet of things. Gartner predicts there will be four billion new connected “things” in the consumer sector by the end of this year, and IoT Business News estimates we will see around 400 million IoT devices with cellular connections within the same time.
But as we all know, growth at such a rapid pace doesn’t come without its challenges. And while a number of companies have been quick to bring new products and devices to the market, only a handful have done that with monetization in mind.
As we approach the new year, the IoT market will almost certainly continue its upward trajectory. But the onset of new IoT products does not necessarily translate to IoT profits. The question for 2017 is: how can companies make money on this seemingly limitless new market and create a path for long-term sustainability?
In 2016, it became apparent that the “monetization of IoT” still tended to be near the bottom of a company’s how-to-make-money-on-IoT checklist. Still focused on IoT hardware, many companies have been fixated on how to bring their smart devices to market rather than how to make money off these products over the long term.
In 2017, we’ll start to see that approach catch up with companies in this space. The increasingly competitive IoT ecosystem will bring monetization to the forefront, and companies who haven’t yet figured out how to bill for these new products and services will be left behind by those who have. Without an aligned go-to market strategy, the “groundwork” that has been laid merely becomes a blueprint without infrastructure.
One example of an IoT business model that’s seeing success is the “energy as a service” model, which includes being able to control energy assets like lighting and energy efficiency on an industrial IoT platform. By deploying monetization engines that can process things like usage and applicable tariffs on an industrial scale, companies in this space will be able to save millions upon millions of dollars in accurate billing as well as in energy efficiencies.
In addition to deriving revenue out of IoT services, companies that deploy monetization models from the start will be ahead of the curve when it comes to articulating the true ROI of their proposed products and services. With these strategies in place, businesses will be able to justify the true business value — and understand the broader impact — of an IoT initiative. What was once a great idea to a CTO can now be a business model supported by hard data.
As more and more companies bring their IoT technologies to market, the ability to quickly integrate and adapt IoT-specific business models is set to reach a major tipping point in 2017. Figuring out what model works, articulating ROI and understanding how an IoT initiative impacts the entire business will become mission critical for companies looking to emerge victorious in the competitive world of IoT in 2017.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
In 1978, NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler proposed a theory about what could happen when the number of objects in low earth orbit reached a certain high density. Once that threshold was reached, he posited that collisions between those objects would be inevitable. Even a chip of paint could be enough to crack the window of a space shuttle. This would trigger a cascade effect: the more collisions, the more debris; the more debris, the more collisions. The result? An atmosphere so clogged with junk that it would set back space activity by decades. Man would become trapped, unable to deploy satellites or explore space. The parallels to be drawn between Kessler’s theory and today’s IoT security challenges are all too worryingly obvious.
What if we bring this back down to Earth and replace those orbiting objects with embedded IoT devices that are connected and lacking an appropriate IoT security framework? Should we be worried that the Kessler effect threatens the future of the internet itself?
Compromised devices like security cameras, home routers and DVRs have been proven to be part of the Mirai botnet used in the two biggest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in history. In September 2016, the world’s largest DDoS was directed against the website of cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs. It involved more than 620 Gbps of traffic, and was the biggest DDoS ever seen at the time. Then, just a week later, a DDoS that was 40% larger than the Krebs attack took down OVH, a French web hosting provider.
Build-a-botnet at IoT scale
To create something capable of generating those levels of traffic, you’d need a huge botnet of compromised devices. In the past, botnets comprised thousands of infected PCs, but with IoT, the issue of scale changes completely; there are many millions more unattended IoT devices out there. Estimates vary, but even the lowest figure from Gartner suggests 6.4 billion connected devices right now, not including PCs and smartphones.
The difference is that most people use their PCs most days. Many users would notice something was wrong with their machines, so they’d patch, reboot or update, and those PCs would drop out of the botnet. This made it hard for attackers to build botnets that stayed big for long.
But unlike PCs and smartphones, the deployment model for most IoT devices is set-and-forget. After all, who’s paying close attention to their IP camera that’s keeping watch on a holiday home, or a cheap digital video recorder bought from a furniture store?
Many of these devices have unfettered internet access; this connectivity makes them attractive to hackers while their lack of an IoT security framework makes them easy to hijack in large numbers. Once fully armed and operational, the result is a weapon to be pointed at a target of choice, denying them usage of the internet.
Whose IoT security is it, anyway?
Here’s another difference between IoT and the PC/smartphone paradigm: low-power, embedded software devices that are field deployed, potentially for years, don’t fit the patch-monthly approach that has built up around “human interface” devices. Just as IoT sensors are seeing potentially longer lives, their manufacturers are seeing shorter lives: products, divisions or even entire companies merge, fail or change direction. This “orphans” devices that go from being rarely patched to abandoned — yet they’re still out there.
Responsible manufacturers of cellular gateways are releasing notes to say “patch this” or “upgrade this,” but plenty of others don’t. No one vendor or ISP or government can solve this problem. It’s not sufficient to mandate standards or legislate against security vulnerabilities. Every stakeholder in IoT needs to consider the risks inherent in legions of well-connected devices swamping or — as is more likely — balkanizing the internet.
One positive step to addressing this issue is at the access network. We believe IoT device connectivity needs to move from a default open state to a rule of least privilege. Instead of that embedded IP address talking to a system it isn’t supposed to, or shouldn’t, it’s only granted minimum access, like talking to three designated endpoints in order to perform its function.
Another approach is a layered defense in depth, albeit inverted from the usual defending from outsiders. Where IoT devices utilize a home gateway or router, let it be a different SSID or VLAN that can be controlled. If on cellular, make sure that custom DNS and IP ACL controls are available to ensure that access is available to only the necessary APIs or endpoints.
In the worst case, we’re looking at a classic Tragedy of the Commons. But if no one stakeholder can fix the problem of the absent IoT security framework, the very least we can do — for now — is not to make the situation worse.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
Think a building stands to do nothing more than shield you from the elements, and house a collection of things and people? Think again. Technology advancements are revolutionizing how we interact with everything, including buildings, and the experiences we’re able to have as a result.
The connectivity enabled by the internet of things — from infrastructure to devices — has made buildings smarter, transforming them into strategic contributors to organizational outcomes, as previously discussed. This notably includes driving deeper levels of interaction with occupants and owners to help enhance overall experiences within buildings of all varieties, from commercial structures to hospitals and airports. Consider your own experience at work or when you visit hotels, hospitals and airports. How can technology enhance that experience and simplify day-to-day tasks?
In this post, we’ll delve into these experience advancements and what they mean for occupants — including app-driven changes and the tie-in with mobile devices — and how they’re enabling everyone in the building to get the best experience, regardless of role or industry.
Connectivity impacting experiences isn’t a new concept; it’s already helping shape our everyday experiences, driven primarily by the ubiquity of smartphones. Consider this: Your day likely starts with a technology-heavy ritual that includes scrolling through email via your smartphone. With another swipe, you effortlessly check the day’s weather. If you’re traveling on business, you may then ask your phone to guide you to the nearest coffee shop before you dispatch a ride-sharing service to get you to your meetings. You might then check how long it will take you to get there through a real-time look at traffic, so you know if you have time for a quick video chat with a colleague — again, all from your phone.
All of this happens without much thought or effort, and in many ways, we’ve come to take this level of convenience and control in shaping our overall experiences for granted. As a result, these capabilities are influencing expectations for how we can do our work and go about our daily lives — expectations that don’t go away when we enter a building. Instead, with smartphones firmly in our pockets, we’ve come to expect the same level of interaction and engagement with our surroundings.
This is the fundamental challenge and opportunity with IoT. Fortunately, by taking advantage of connectivity, this amount of control and convenience can now extend to a building. And this is not change for change’s sake; commercial building stakeholders who embrace this trend and the underlying tenets, including occupant experience, can have a hand in benefiting operations and outcomes.
This notion of connectivity — and the improved experiences it enables for building occupants — is made possible through an interconnected framework of components. These components can include everything from connecting devices, mobile apps and cloud-based data management, to real-time services and social networking. These building blocks can help turn buildings into value-creators.
For example, integrating digital identification with core building functions provides a pathway to improving how an occupant can interact with his surroundings. That user can potentially control things such as occupant comfort, or how he is able to move about a workplace from both an access and way-finding standpoint. This can lead to more comfortable and empowered occupants. Facility managers, in turn, have improved insight to manage their buildings better, which can lead to downstream benefits, like easily managing credentials and keeping facilities secure, and saving time by quickly fixing comfort problems.
With a set of standardized building blocks in place, the possibilities for enhanced experiences are endless, and can quickly benefit facility environments. Consider the following ways these benefits are coming to life in buildings:
- Amplified awareness: Data and applications can help building occupants become more aware of their surroundings. For an employee of a large corporation, for example, enhanced awareness means knowing not just what is happening in a building, but what that means for occupant experiences — from comfort levels and what’s for lunch in the cafeteria, to knowing where the nearest available conference room is.
Similarly, increased awareness for an airline passenger at an airport could mean quickly identifying the various food options near the passenger’s gate. For other types of building occupants, such as first responders who only occupy a building for a short time, enhanced experiences can take form in other ways, like easily being able to locate occupants in a building to support a safe evacuation.
- Better insight: Data analytics enable key insights around events that occur within a building, including why they happened and if they’ll happen again. Those details are accessible via reporting, rules and diagnoses capabilities, as well as predictive analysis and the ability to explore what-if scenarios. These capabilities drive better insights and are all aimed at making experiences more predictably positive for occupants and organizational outcomes.
For a healthcare professional, improved insight could mean receiving automated alerts if he fails to stop by hand-washing station prior to meeting with his next patient. Airport passengers could benefit by being able to determine if they have enough time to eat before boarding begins. And a real estate professional could use this improved insight to determine if she should lease a new building, or if an existing space is capable of accommodating new employees.
- Improved control: The right connectivity building blocks can enable improved control for enhanced outcomes including the improved efficiency, optimization, personalization and effectiveness of building spaces and assets across industries. Employees in standard office spaces could benefit from real-time access to available spaces and resources to enable ad-hoc collaboration, or tap into the ability to improve the comfort of their surrounding environments by raising or lowering the temperature for enhanced productivity. Facility managers, in turn, benefit from being able to drive energy savings while meeting and exceeding occupant expectations surrounding comfort.
And, as we’ve previously noted, vertical markets stand to benefit, as well. A hospital visitor could use this improved control to autonomously find his way to an admitted loved one he’s come to visit. For an airport passenger, we might one day even see this granular level of control result in the delivery of a meal right to her seat before she boards a plane.
The possible applications are numerous, but all share a common truth. With improved experiences for occupants, buildings stand to benefit in other ways not previously possible — or quantifiable.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
Smarter and smarter things are happening in places that are not within the confines of IT data centers or clouds. There’s action out at the “edge.” The edge can be a manufacturing floor, smart city, smart building, energy grid, oil rig, windfarm, dairy farm, planes, trains or automobiles. Living on the edge in industrial settings are pumps, turbines, valves, robotic arms and other manufacturing equipment. When these “things” are smart and connected, then the entire affair becomes the internet of things or IoT.
At Hewlett Packard Enterprise we’ve realized processing power is needed at the edge because in so many instances IoT data can’t be easily or cheaply uploaded to the cloud. Think of security or data sovereignty policy and how it can prevent data transfer, when real-time response can’t tolerate the latency to the cloud, and when the volume of data is so large it’s unsuitable for the available network bandwidth. In these instances and more like them, the cloud is too distant to be of use for processing IoT data — especially when you consider that the tens of thousands of sensors operating out on the edge are capable of generating more data than all other big data combined.
So when should you use the cloud versus processing IoT data at the edge? Few questions can help you decide. For example, how soon would you like to know if your asset (e.g., pump or engine) is going to catch on fire? Most businesses would say they would like to know immediately, so that corrective actions can take place and disaster can be avoided. Or, how soon would you like to know the object in the road just ahead of a speeding autonomous car is a child versus a plastic garbage can? All of us would do whatever we could to avoid hitting a child, while a plastic garbage can is easily replaced.
Now consider scenarios where much more data is required to render an immediate and urgent action. A sealed manufacturing floor needs constant monitoring for excess moisture or leaking air. Finding and flagging these potentially crucial errors in real time requires capturing and instantly analyzing massive amounts of data, on the spot. Get it wrong or fail to act quickly enough and errors can pile up, creating defective products — or worse, compromising the safety of line workers.
For an even more extreme example, think about the efficiencies of a process plant, up to 90% of total cost of ownership has nothing to do with the original purchase price of the asset; but it has everything to do with the energy required to keep it running. Collectively in the United States alone, for the refining industry, that could be the equivalent of $20 billion per year that’s lost from unplanned downtime. By bringing compute to the edge, we can quickly and economically predict impending failures, threats or manufacturing problems and improve business efficiency.
This is why we say adding intelligence at the edge accelerates insight. HPE is working with partners in industrial plant and equipment to build industrial IoT by equipping operational technology, a category of hardware and software that monitors and controls how physical devices perform, with real-time data acquisition, pre-processing, monitoring and visualization. There’s a lot more to say about the intelligent edge and industrial IoT applications and the innovations. I’ll have more to say in this forum, but I’d also invite you to follow me on Twitter @TomBradicichPhD, where I lay out more principles of the IoT and what I’m seeing first hand with end users.
When you visited the doctor the last time, do you remember meeting her AI helper? No, I don’t remember either. But guess what, artificial intelligence (AI) is looking at our biometrics and combing through millions of past patient history and medical research papers to make predictions about our health.
Read on whether you are a healthcare provider, work in a hospital or clinic or health insurance or pharmaceutical company or you are an entrepreneur aspiring to bring AI to any of these industries.
Value from healthcare data
Hospitals are losing $300 billion yearly just in the U.S. from the lost opportunity of creating value from healthcare data. Healthcare data is growing in volume to reach a new measurement unit called yottabytes, one of which is the equivalent of 280 bytes.
Artificial intelligence technologies are beginning to be employed on healthcare data to make sense of patterns of fraud, improve clinical inefficiencies and coordinate care processes to reduce healthcare costs by 80%.
AI disruptions in healthcare has begun.
Top AI disruptions in healthcare
Connected hospitals with intelligent messaging
In today’s hospitals, pacemakers, defibrillators and oximeters are all connected to the internet and share vitals immediately with doctors, in turn speeding response times. Hospitals have technicians, nurses, staff, billing departments, insurance providers, patients and patients’ families as stakeholders, each with different requirements of information about the care given to patient.
Unified Inbox offers an AI-based unified cloud IoT messaging platform for internet of things devices to connect various stakeholders, giving them the freedom to receive different messages at different frequency, with different senses of urgency in different mediums of their choice. Unified Inbox launched this at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore as “CUBE,” the IoT-secured messaging gateway for healthcare. The artificial intelligence makes the hospitals connected, giving peace of mind to patients and their loved ones while improving efficiency in the overall hospital management and interaction with all stakeholders.
Drones as a service
Artificial intelligence is used in the form of machine learning and computer vision to train drones to drive autonomously. Drones are now deployed as a service and have begun disrupting healthcare industry.
Zipline makes a drone that delivers medical supplies in Rwanda. Delft University in the Netherlands has piloted the Ambulance Drone, which can drive autonomously to an emergency site on-demand and will act as the eyes of remote emergency personnel while acting as a connected defibrillator.
Robotic haptic feedback toys and robotic surgery
Robots are driven using artificial intelligence. BigAu makes robots in the form of toys for kids in long-term care in hospitals. BigAu uses IBM Watson’s AI technology to teach the robot biomimicry social skills to collect information about how the child is feeling from biometrics and haptic feedback to get optimal care for the child.
Robotic surgery is another area where robots are used to perform remote surgery with a skilled surgeon at a console in the operating room, manipulating the wristed robotic instruments in real-time. DaVinci Surgical Systems have performed robotic surgery on three million patients. Robots are not only used for remote access, but also for precision during the surgery.
Robotic arms are also being developed to act as prosthetic arms for disabled patients, but with the help of AI they allow the patient to move the robotic arm using their mind by mapping the electric pulses from their thoughts.
Deep learning algorithms
AI algorithms can comb through large volumes of patient data to look for patterns to make a personalized prediction about whether a patient is likely to get certain diseases. DeepMind, a Google company, has partnered with NHS in the UK with an app called Streams to apply deep learning AI algorithms to patient data to predict kidney failures or eye problems before they occur. DeepMind also uses AI to help doctors separate out cancer cells from non-cancer cells for radiation therapy.
IBM Watson AI took 10 minutes to comb through 20 million cancer research papers, and helped a patient in Japan get the right treatment by spotting a rare type of leukemia. IBM Watson has partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and created Watson Oncology to augment the physician’s experience to identify the type of cancer in patients. IBM is making this AI available for their employees and their families fighting cancer starting in January 2017.
AI is here to save lives now!
Wearables inside us
Wearables are becoming available as pills to swim inside our bodies. This seems far-fetched, but the applications from such pills are also equally amazing.
Proteus offers a FDA approved pill that can track our biometrics from inside our bodies. Nanobots are tiny devices that swim inside our body and share pictures of our cells. This creates a huge volume of images, which are processed by artificial intelligence using machine learning to identify cancer cells. The nanobots can then be used to kill the cancer cells.
Which AI innovation will disrupt the world?
Which of these AI disruptions do you think will change the world of medicine, extend life and change our interaction with intelligent machines? Which AI do you see disrupting your industry? Where do you see the opportunity? Do you see any challenges for your industry?
I am excited to meet my doctors’ AI helper soon. Are you?
I look forward to your thoughts and continuing the discussion.
Today’s global enterprises are investing in more group spaces and tools to give knowledge workers the environment they need to work in teams. But, providing the infrastructure alone isn’t enough to ensure productive meetings. One-third of all meetings are considered unproductive — that’s alarming, considering over 25 million meetings are held each day in the United States. Wasted time is a primary culprit, often before the meeting has even started. Microsoft Research suggests that an average delay of eight to 12 minutes occurs between the scheduled start time of meetings and the actual start time.
Any obstacles with scheduling, physically locating rooms, using the AV equipment and setup can all cause significant delays and lost productivity. With more devices connected now than ever before, it’s important to look at specific causes of these obstacles, and how they can be prevented through the internet of things.
Organizing and scheduling
The software used to schedule meetings rarely provides information beyond the number of participants and location. The in-room technology, therefore, must provide the capabilities they need to achieve those goals. For example, if there are remote participants, the room must have video conferencing capability. Scheduling software simply doesn’t provide the meeting organizer with all the information he needs to ensure a successful meeting.
Office spaces tend to be large and sometimes confusing to navigate. During the course of a typical day, workers transition from meeting to meeting. Sometimes the meeting spaces are spread out across multiple floors and buildings. Lacking familiarity with a building or campus enhances their stress level, as they furiously try to find their way. By the time they arrive — if they make it on time — they’re in a harried, frustrated state. This can cause significant cognitive dissonance, which can negatively impact their effectiveness, as well as the effectiveness of the other meeting participants.
OK, you’ve made it to the meeting. Now, let’s get this party started! Oh, but wait, you’re having trouble getting the presentation on your laptop up on the room display. You frantically plug and unplug various cables into various ports. You’re crawling around below the conference table. Now you’re really sweating.
This and other “technical difficulties” tend to rear their ugly heads at the worst possible times. Beyond the cost of the wasted time, the delays and disruption are highly frustrating for all meeting participants, further negatively impacting their mental state and effectiveness. This frustration, according to Herman Miller, results in meeting organizers actually avoiding two-thirds of available conference rooms, suggesting only one-third of the spaces are actually fully supportive of their goals for the meeting.
Clearly, there’s a need for technology that addresses these issues.
What’s the solution?
Bluetooth proximity beacons are simple, inexpensive devices that deliver huge IoT capabilities because they enable personal mobile devices to have an awareness of where they are located, bringing the power of GPS-like navigation technology indoors and to an extremely accurate level. Combined with mobile solutions, the technology will pioneer a better approach to meetings. The most advanced and sophisticated technology will allow workers to:
- Locate available rooms nearby at all times and schedule meetings on the fly, rather than waiting until they return to their desks. This will allow workers to have better control of their schedules.
- Empower employees with mobile functionality, linked to “smart” rooms. With this access, they’re freed of the all-too-common scheduling and technical bottlenecks that drag down productivity.
- Access meeting space floor plans along with photos of the inside and outside, and room type, size, and features/ capabilities, so they can be certain they’re booking the right room for their meeting.
- Host a personalized experience at the start of the meeting — when I walk into a room, the room knows what I’m there for because it’s intelligent, it knows my habits and trends. The presenter can instantly present wirelessly from her smart device, at the touch of a button. When the meeting is concluded, the room knows it’s vacant, and everything automatically turns off, which ensures the security of confidential information.
Tomorrow’s meeting requires fully integrated solutions for managing them. Keep an eye out for more beacon-powered solutions to reduce bottlenecks and better facilitate workflow in the year to come.
Whether in airports or bank vaults, warehouses or showrooms, most organizations strive to safeguard their people and property by monitoring with video cameras. Approximately 60% of Fortune 250 companies use video as part of their corporate security strategy.
In the early days, video meant closed-circuit television (CCTV): a static camera visibly mounted in the corner of a room, recording on eight-hour VHS or Betamax magnetic tapes that offered poor resolution quality and had to be vigilantly monitored by a security officer in a distant room.
As in so many areas of 21st century life, connectivity has completely transformed that late-20th century scenario. In today’s world, IoT and digital technologies are taking the applications for video well beyond safety. Sophisticated high-definition cameras and digital sensors are improving video security and monitoring environments by orders of magnitude. They increase operational efficiencies, deliver high resolution and are much less obtrusive, while paving the way for organizations to capitalize on the holy grail of digitalization: advanced analytics. To tap the full potential of your video assets, however, you need the right combination of advanced video management capabilities.
New applications for big video data can be found in every industry
All kinds of enterprises can benefit from the use of video assets, whether it’s to make their operations more efficient, minimize risks, support regulatory compliance or learn more about their customers.
In a multi-store retail operation, a unified video management platform would allow a distributed system of thousands of cameras to act as one. Such a system could capitalize on low-cost hardware for recording in every store. Then the IT department could put more resources into software that would analyze the timing of heaviest customer traffic or how well various types of displays are received, providing valuable insights to inform staffing, marketing and even procurement.
Another type of enterprise with a lot at stake in gaining valuable insights about customers are casinos, though for different reasons. Tracking the sleights of hand that might constitute cheating requires high-quality images that would generate an intense amount of data. Video management software (VMS) for such a business could take advantage of algorithms to presort the data and offer for further analysis only those clips that show an anomaly, thus making most efficient use of storage capacity.
Prioritization and sorting algorithms would also be essential for manufacturers and transportation organizations. Formulas could be devised to send periodic equipment maintenance or malfunction alerts to security personnel, detect when intruders entered facilities like warehouses or tunnels, or to coordinate deliveries and shared infrastructure.
In any regulated industry, such as transportation, organizations need to retain data longer for compliance, litigation or business analytics — here, storage is the major bottleneck. Effective tiering of video data could allow it to be stored more cost-effectively, while still making retrieval swift and easy. In environments like airports, where carriers and regulatory bodies typically use different legacy systems, an open video management platform would allow them to communicate in a common format.
With a robust VMS, security managers get more versatile front-end operations and an unprecedented range of back-end services. Video analytics software can transform the vast amounts of new video data generated into usable information. And a unified video management platform can organize, manage and store data — even from older, outmoded systems — synthesizing information from different vendors and preserving the investment that enterprises have made in previous waves of technology. Such a platform can scale up to thousands of cameras in a national retail operation, or down to 20 or so miniaturized sensors providing data within a single automobile.
The amount of video data being generated in the average enterprise organization is already enormous and likely to grow: Research firm IHS reports that 71% of security managers planned to increase spending on video surveillance in 2016. In addition to legacy machines, they’ll be able to take advantage of higher resolution HD, panoramic and 4K cameras, body-cams and drones, with geospatial metadata as they devise new applications for video data.
With this proliferation of cameras, enterprise leaders can expect that many people will rightly be concerned about privacy. Advanced features like privacy masking address this concern. In applications where an individual’s identity is not relevant, this feature automatically pixelates all or certain aspects of that person into an unrecognizable blur. Privacy masking is available in all reputable video management platforms and can be used to gather insights about customer or employee behavior in aggregate patterns rather than specific instances.
Just as our binary vision provides us with a 3D view of the world, data from multiple realms provides us with more reliable information. Video gives us eyes and ears, while next generation video analytics will give us intelligent insights to act on.
As our lives continue to become more virtual, people have become inundated with messages to constantly keep up with securing their cyber-profiles, from changing passwords regularly and never using the same one twice, to setting up multiple-step verification for online accounts. However because of the constant reminders — and the nearly daily reports of new hacks and breaches — most people have become overwhelmed trying to keep up with their online security and fallen into complacency — “security fatigue” if you will, preferring to deal with a security problem once it arises versus protecting themselves proactively.
With hackers becoming savvier by the day and new IoT platforms arising every second, users can’t afford to wait until a breach occurs to think about their online safety. Information can be stolen in seconds, and hackers can hold onto information for years before using it — just look at the 2012 LinkedIn hack that resurfaced a few months ago.
But users can’t protect themselves on their own. According to Dashlane, an inbox auditing tool, the average American has 130 online accounts registered to a single email address, meaning (in an ideal world of IT security), 130 separate passwords all changed regularly and never reused. That’s simply too many devices, too many accounts and too many passwords to keep track of. So what can be done to help users maintain their online security and prevent security fatigue? Manufacturers and providers of internet-connected devices and online platforms must take some of the onus on themselves to ensure the products they are providing are secure, especially when it comes to products that have become essential to everyday life. This will mean adopting more proactive security practices from the get-go.
Commit to better monitoring
Many companies adopt a “sell it and forget it” mentality, meaning once they’ve sold a product to their user, cyber-support is virtually nonexistent, especially in the case of lower-end products like baby monitors and cameras, many of which have only recently adopted internet capabilities. But as the recent DDoS attack that took out major websites across North America by accessing internet-connected surveillance cameras showed, it’s clear that this mentality does not work. Instead, manufacturers must commit to providing monitoring and support throughout the duration of the product’s life, delivering product updates and providing real-time support in the event of a cyber-issue.
Implement secure practices from development stage
As more and more products are connected to the internet, companies who have never had to deal with developing lines of code are finding themselves hiring developers or outsourcing their platform to agencies to be built. To ensure they deliver the best product, manufacturers must educate themselves on the most up to date, secure development practices and implement them within their newly minted development departments (or be sure the agency they are working with is using them). The same goes for experienced teams — manufacturers must ensure that their developers are utilizing secure practices from the development stage.
Most importantly, companies must commit to operating transparently. In a world where cyberattacks happen nearly every day, consumers are able to forgive a company who is hacked — as long as they handle it well. For this to happen, transparency is key. Users should be informed of any sort of breach as soon as the organization is made aware of it, and be provided with as much information as possible as to what kind of information may have been compromised. Further, support should be provided to users with questions and concerns about their online safety.
While users still need to be responsible for themselves in the online world, with the number of internet-connected devices increasing by the second and security fatigue taking hold, manufacturers and providers need to take responsibility for their products, committing to creating more inherently secure devices, offering security support for them throughout the entire product lifecycle, and operating transparently.
The real breakthrough of the internet of things is the quantity and quality of actionable information that is used for creating value. This explains the crucial role of sensors in IoT: they are the gatherers and the gatekeepers of this actionable input data. Getting sensors to be truly smart, however, is not a trivial undertaking.
Smart sensors have been formally defined as follows: “A smart sensor is a device that takes input from the physical environment and uses built-in compute resources to perform predefined functions upon detection of specific input and then process data before passing it on.” While this definition is technically correct, it is rather limited; it describes only the minimal requirements for what a smart sensor can be.
In order to be effective and competitive in the real world, smart sensors should go beyond the minimum requirements by including the following features and capabilities:
Rich and high-resolution data — This is a preliminary requirement, as all further processing is based on raw input data.
Edge analytics — The more data analysis is performed at the sensor level, the more powerful the sensor is. Embedding data analysis capabilities reduces latency, offloads network traffic and facilitates reactions to neighboring devices.
Highly secured — IoT endpoints, such as connected sensors, are very susceptible to cyberattacks. A multilayer security approach using encryption keys and secured protocols must be implemented by design.
Privacy protected — The multitude of data enabled by sophisticated sensors may include sensitive personal information. In places where privacy is expected (e.g., home, healthcare, workplace), effective privacy protection measures should be implemented.
Scalable — Sensors should be configured such that their numbers can be easily scaled. Plugging more sensors into a network should be simple and straightforward.
Upgradeable — In view of the expected lifecycle of sensors and the rapid technological changes, smart sensors must be “future-proof,” allowing for remote firmware updates.
Interoperable — Given the lack of standardization and the increasing variety of ecosystems and platforms, smart sensors should be designed from the ground up to support leading communication protocols to fit within the diversified ecosystems.
Easily commissioned — Setting up smart sensors for an IoT system can be a rather lengthy and expensive process. It is therefore vital that the sensors be designed for easy installation and commissioning using automated or semi-automated processes.
Affordable — In order for smart sensors to proliferate, it is highly critical that they be inexpensive. While this precondition often conflicts with the long list of required features and capabilities, there is no room for compromise here, as pricing is a crucial gating factor.
Smart sensors for smart buildings
Early-adopting market segments that embrace IoT include industries such as transportation, utilities, industry, smart cities and agriculture. According to a study by Memoori, smart cities already make up 47% of all connected devices, and smart buildings account for 63% of connected devices in smart cities. This indicates that about 30% of all connected devices (including sensors) reside in smart buildings.
What makes buildings intelligent is determined to a large extent by the capabilities of their sensors. Gathering actionable data about the building systems and environment can dramatically reduce costs and generate business intelligence. Since one of the key technical attributes for smart buildings is a permanent infrastructure for collecting granular occupancy data, smart sensors are becoming critical enablers in this domain.
In this regard, image-based sensors are emerging as a good example of smart sensors in commercial buildings. The richness of visual information together with onboard processing allows them to spearhead the smart sensor revolution. IP cameras, which are used primarily for surveillance purposes, can serve as a basis for such smart sensors. Driven by increasing processing power at decreasing costs, there is an ongoing market swing away from server-based analytics towards edge-based analytics in IP cameras. Leading vendors, such as Bosch, have already announced that all of their IP cameras will feature edge analytics capability. Other vendors are providing edge analytics data without streaming the video, thus protecting occupants’ privacy and further reducing network traffic. If produced in miniature sizes, such image-based sensors can be incorporated into widely spread appliances such as networked lighting fixtures, thereby covering the entire building space.
When providing the complete package of features and functionalities, the value of these smart sensors for commercial buildings is immense, addressing different use cases across all aspects of the building. A small sample of such use cases is outlined below:
- Space utilization — Hot desking, coordination of meeting rooms, space planning
- Energy saving — Harvesting light energy (using the image sensor photosensitivity), demand-controlled ventilation for HVAC (by counting the number of occupants in a given space)
- Safety and security — Assisting in emergency building evacuation, detecting tailgating events
- Retail analytics — Buyers’ traffic, heat maps, queue management, display attention and dwell time
- Healthcare — Detection of fall accidents, monitoring if patients are in bed
In summary, smart sensors play an undeniably key role in driving the IoT revolution. Understanding the full set of features and capabilities associated with these sensors is essential for practical implementation.
Let’s face it — the hype surrounding the internet of things and how it would magically transform your home into an oasis of seamless automation hasn’t exactly delivered. Consumer products like Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Echo have yet to fully live up to the promise of the connected home. But don’t be so quick to knock IoT in general; it’s becoming more advanced every day. There are plenty of devices and machines — backed by millions of lines of code — that apply the same automation in less visible, but no less impactful, corners of the world.
Industrial spaces, in particular, are ahead of the IoT adoption curve, applying networked sensors and systems to the benefit of their facilities and organizations. From heat maps that provide insight into occupancy and traffic patterns within a warehouse or factory, to asset tracking technology that helps monitor inventory and equipment via sensors, intelligent systems within industrial spaces are invaluable tool. Simply Google “industrial internet of things (IIoT)” or “industry 4.0” and you’ll quickly understand just how prevalent and influential these systems can be.
This has paved the way for IoT infiltration in the “smart workplace.” Maybe (okay, probably) even yours, regardless of if you work at a desk in a high-rise building or on the floor of a manufacturing plant. So, what makes workplaces ripe for the IoT revolution?
Data — and lots of it
Similar to a warehouse or other industrial environment, the office is a hive of activity and patterns, both obvious and unrecognized. People come and go, creating an ebb and flow around conference rooms, printers and other destinations, all of which can reveal something more meaningful about the state of the business at large. When wired for IoT, a building can track these behaviors, providing all sorts of data and applying analysis to turn that raw information into office-wide intelligence that improves productivity, engagement and safety — as well as the bottom line.
A new appreciation for employee engagement
Consider everything that contributes to a “good” day at work. In all likelihood, it’s not just what you accomplish, but how you accomplish it. With technology playing a larger role in our everyday lives, its ability to work with us, and not simply for us, has come to the forefront. This also means that many offices are no longer designed to be “one size fits all,” and IoT helps make this possible.
Customized individual lighting and temperature controls ensure a comfortable and optimized environment for specific desks or stretches of assembly lines. Sensors located in conference rooms can detect occupancy or usage trends and map to Outlook or Google calendars for dynamic room scheduling, creating a convenient solution to the “this conference room is always booked” problem. Collectively, these seemingly small improvements minimize distractions, improve engagement and allow employees to focus more completely on the responsibilities that matter most: increasing satisfaction and efficiency.
To deliver on its promise, IoT requires a few elements. It needs power. It needs a network. And it needs to be spaced appropriately so that the system is collecting data from a meaningful and representative swath of real estate and occupant behavior. Workspaces are, by nature, perfectly equipped to provide all of these things. Building management systems can integrate with the existing infrastructure, from power to HVAC, to provide some degree of automation and, in some cases, intelligence. Lighting systems can also provide a natural smart building network and, through embedded sensors, can leverage their power sources and evenly-distributed spatial design to easily capture the data necessary to truly understand the way a business operates. Companies can use these systems to not only change the way employees interact with their workspace, but also to make informed decisions that optimize their operations.
Intelligence and beyond in the new smart workplace
The trifecta of data, employee engagement and existing, equipped infrastructure make the workspace the natural next horizon for intelligence and smart building applications. And existing conduits, such as lighting, make this new world of integrated insight easier to achieve than once thought. With the workplace a daily destination for most of the population, it’s there that the benefits of this intelligence are likely to inspire new applications as well as the continued evolution of the IoT movement as a whole.