THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF THE IoT
The “Internet of things” (IoT) is increasingly becoming the talk of the computer science “town”. It’s a concept that’s definitely going to affect the way we live our everyday lives as we know it, and that includes the way we work. But what exactly is the “Internet of things” and what impact is it going to have on you, if any? There are a lot of complexities around the “Internet of things” but I want to stick to the basics for now.
Let’s begin with some basic understanding.
Broadband Internet is become more widely available even in “underdeveloped” countries, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more Wifi enabled devices(phones, laptops, smart watches, security systems, cctv’s and so much more) are being made available with sensors built into them, technology costs are steadily decreasing, and smartphone penetration is basically off the roof, Nigeria my motherland is a typical example of these prevailing statistics. All of these things are creating a “fertile soil” for the IoT “seed”
Hey! So What Is The Internet Of Things?
Simply put, it’s the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can possibly think of, most definitely including electronic/tech gadgets yet to be made. This also applies to components of machines, like say the jet engines of an airplane or even the drill of an oil rig, it’s basically limitless. Does it have an on and off switch? Then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices… Now that’s a lot of connections my friend (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion. That’s huge!). The IoT is a giant network of connected “everything” (which also includes people and livestock). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things. In the broadest sense, the term IoT encompasses everything connected to the internet.
How Does This Affect You?
To be candid guys the new rule for the foreseeable future is going to be “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” One might want reasons as to why one should want so many devices communicating with each other. There are instances of what this might turn out to be or it’s invaluable impact on our everyday lives. Say for example you wake up in the morning; That is your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you, your coffee maker has access to your medical records, and data from your credit card transactions in your favourite restaurant or data from your online orders, and collates these data to brew a beverage that meets and blurs the line between your medical and preferential and daily needs. This is on a really small scale.
On a larger scale IoT can be implemented in Areas like transportation networks: “smart cities”, via IoT sensors and deployments, such as smart streetlights and meters, can help alleviate traffic, conserve energy, monitor and address environmental concerns, and improve sanitation and thus public health, which will lend us a really needed hand in
reducing waste of food and power, improving efficiency for things such as energy use, thereby saving a ton of power and evenly distributing it, improving security to a level where committing crime is no longer worth the risk. As a matter of fact in the future, intelligence services all around the world will make use of the internet of things for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials; this help us understand and improve how we work and live. These are just but a few, like literally a drop from the ocean of limitless positive impacts.
For big companies the internet of things will offer a number of amazing benefits, enabling them to:
monitor their overall business processes;
improve the customer experience;
save time and money;
enhance employee productivity;
integrate and adapt business models;
make better business decisions; and
generate more revenue.
IoT encourages companies to rethink the ways they approach their businesses, industries and markets and gives them the tools to improve their business strategies.
The truth is that the IoT makes more than enough room for virtually endless opportunities and countless connections to take place, many of which we can’t even possibly grasp yet and it’s a no-brainer as to why it’s a star-hot topic today; Yes, while it opens the door to a lot of opportunities it also comes with a lot of really tough challenges, and Security being the biggest of them is oftentimes brought up. With literally billions of devices being connected together, what do we do to ensure sensitive, and personal data is safe and stays that way? Insecurity in IoT could mean all a hacker needs to do to gain assess into our entire network is to hack our alarm clock. The IoT exposes everyone and everything to more security threats than we might think, including companies all over the world. There’s also the issue of privacy, data sharing which already is a major concern today, one can imagine how much more it will be when billions of devices are connected. What of the issue of surveillance? If every product becomes connected then there’s the potential for unbridled observation of possibly millions of user. At the centre of creating a wide, reliable IoT network lies another significant issue: generally compatible standards. Connected objects need to be able to speak to each other, to transfer data and share what they are recording. If they all run on different standards, communication and data sharing might prove difficult. Hey! How do we even store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated? Wow.
One might ask, programmer or non-programmer doesn’t really matter, What next?
People have been talking about this for many years and are still talking about it today even more. For a better standard of living, healthcare, food, energy and it’s management, resources, for a better life IoT is unavoidable. And it’s impact on even the simplest aspects our daily lives is not just worth the hype but also worth the risks.
And no programmer wants to be left out of the proverbial picture. The richest and most influential people in coming times are IoT investors and pioneers, that’s a given.