There has been a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) concept in the business world, and with good reason. The IoT is full of potential to improve performance, reduce costs, drive innovation and create new revenue streams.
And talk is turning into action: technology is adapting and businesses are planning IoT strategies.
In downtown San Francisco, a lot of traffic congestion is caused by people hunting for a parking space. This congestion could be reduced in an IoT-enabled city, as wireless sensors in a parking lot could help guide connected cars to an available space and even initiate payment.
If needed, parking details could be used in-car to "call" a mobile mechanic to change the oil while the driver is away.
A connected transport system means that traffic can be routed more effectively as conditions change. Users of public transport services such as buses, trains and trams could receive instant notifications about service updates and relevant information.
The IoT could make a huge difference in the packing and shipping industries, making monitoring and logistics seamless.
Many older people live alone across the US, Canada and Europe. Using IoT technology, elderly people could retain their independence and live at home for longer, with relatives or carers reassured quickly regarding their safety and wellbeing.
Sensors throughout a house could monitor activity levels, sleeping patterns and medication schedules. Alerts could then be automatically sent to healthcare services or relatives if there were cause for concern.
Better connectivity in hospitals may help improve patient care. Doctors could more easily view test results and notes using their own mobile or wearable devices.
Cleaners might be alerted when an area requires attention, improving hygiene standards throughout a campus. Equipment could be monitored and therefore allocated to the correct department more easily, according to demand.
The energy used by commercial and industrial buildings in the US reportedly generates almost half of all the greenhouse gas emissions of the whole country.
Businesses are under pressure to make their sites more energy efficient. The IoT could help to achieve this, using sensors which automate lighting, water and gas use by the number of people in the building and their precise location, as well as according to the weather conditions.
Smart-connected cities can reduce their impact on the environment by making services more efficient. Resources such as electricity, water and gas could be distributed according to use, and maintenance services can be alerted instantly if there are problems on the network.
Connected cars could also alert maintenance services when they pass a pothole, or a street light that needs fixing. The alert would be sent automatically to a staff member closest to the location that needs attention, saving time and money for fuel.
The IoT can help make services smarter, better and more efficient, therefore saving people time and money.
Gavin Wheeldon is chief executive at Purple WiFi
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