What is IoT and What are the Benefits?
This article, the first in a series, demystifies what we mean by IoT and reveals some of the benefits that have been discovered by our research.
So, what is IoT? Well, put simply, IoT is a collection of sensors and technologies that gather data to enable decision makers in organisations to make smarter decisions and deliver better outcomes.
A sensor can be any device that collects local contextual information or data such as air quality, light, noise, humidity, temperature, pressure, motion, images, levels, proximity etc.
The backhaul network is responsible for transmitting the data from the sensor to a point of aggregation for processing. The backhaul network technology used will depend upon the data being collected (i.e., size and frequency), availability of existing network connectivity, usage costs and the scope of the geographical deployment; aspects that will be discussed in a future article in this series.
The data set once received is processed and then presented in a manner typically through a specific application to decision makers.
IoT frees up valuable resources to focus on tasks of high significance
IoT is currently being deployed in low complexity situations which frees up valuable people resources to undertake more complex tasks.
Many of the use cases are designed for 'low-complexity and low-intelligence' tasks. For example, undertaking visual inspections of dampness, faulty streetlights and visitor numbers are simple tasks but time consuming for council officers to undertake. By using sensors, officer time can be freed up to focus on pertinent council priorities.
The complexity of use cases is likely to evolve over time with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and as better processing capabilities and analytics software become available. For example, it is conceivable that AI algorithms could be trained to analyse thousands of hours of video footage taken by council vehicles to spot potholes thereby optimising maintenance schedules and preventing insurance claims. This would be far more effective than teams of people analysing video footage.
IoT can achieve operational benefits and socio-economic outcomes
Business led operational outcomes refer to the benefits derived from IoT to local authorities. For example, the social housing use case delivered cost savings while the waste pilot and street lighting use cases delivered better workforce productivity. These are all positive outcomes for the local authority.
Place-led socio-economic outcomes refer to the benefits delivered to society and places. For example, the social housing use case could determine households at risk of fuel poverty while the street lighting use case could help to improve safety and reduce crimes. These are al benefits derived by communities, citizens and businesses.