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Internet of things (IoT) refers to the international networking of physical devices that are fitted with sensors, actuators, software and network connectivity that enable them to collect and exchange data.
When internet of things is fitted with sensors and actuators, the technologies reach a point of a cyber-physical situation where one can control nearly all physical devices in a cyber café using internet. At this stage now the IoT will lead to creation of smart homes, smart cities and intelligent transportation just to mention but a few. Each of this devices will be controlled via their individual systems but will also interoperate still within the available network infrastructure.
In a nutshell, internet of things aims at achieving an advanced level of connectivity of systems, devices and services beyond the existing machine-to-machine connectivity and communication. The application of this communication is expected to achieve a high level of automation in nearly all sectors. The word “things” in Internet of Things refers to devices such as automobiles fitted with sensors, transponders fitted to farm animals, heart monitoring implants, DNA analysis of food and environmental pathogens as well as field operation devices that can assist firefighters in searching and evacuating victims.
The machine will collect useful data which autonomously flow to other devices. The Internet of Things affects your daily life by connecting devices in areas like environmental monitoring, infrastructural management, energy management, medical and health care management, automation of building and constructions, and transport sector management.
According to research, there are already more devices connected to the internet than the number of people on earth. According to CISCO trend forecast, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. BI Intelligence shows that there will be more than 34 billion devices and according to Gartner Inc. trend forecast there will be 20.8 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. For this reason, the current space in IPv4 cannot hold all the addresses and hence the need to upgrade to IPv6 that can hold addresses for all atoms on the earth’s surface.
The application of IoT in monitoring of the environment involves use of sensors that help in environmental protection. This is done by monitoring aspects like water and air quality, conditions of the atmosphere and soil quality. Internet of Things can also assist in monitoring the migration of wild animals and their habitats. This can assist in protection of the endangered species like the white rhinos, counting and protecting the remaining 2000 lions in southern Kenya etc. Such devices connected to the internet can also help in early detection of earthquakes and tsunami. This can assist in offering more quality aid and quick evacuation of victims from the affected areas.
Internet of Things can also be used to control and monitor activities in urban and rural development. Such is the construction of structures like bridges, railway line system and so on. IoT devices can help in detecting changes in these structures that can pose a risk to public and compromise safety. It will also make it easy to schedule reconstruction or maintenance and repair by coordinating the concerned service providers and users of these facilities. Having knowledge about the condition can help inform people of the danger, improve emergency services in case an accident occurs and reduce cost of operations in all infrastructural activities.
If sensing and actuation devices are integrated and connected to the internet, it will be easy to optimize power consumption. When internet of things is integrated into the power consumption equipment’s like switches, bulbs, television and so on, the power supply companies will be in a position to balance power generation and energy consumption. The devices will also provide an opportunity to remotely control the equipment via a cloud based system. This is possible by scheduling where the client controls the energy consumption by switching off some machines, changing lighting systems, controlling ovens etc. Apart from home based energy management, IoT will find relevance in the smart grid since it can collect and act on energy related information. This 0000w0ill be in a bid to improve reliability, efficiency and sustainability of production and distribution of electricity. IoT not only collects data from the end user side but also manage other distribution automated devices like transformers and reclosers using an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
Medical and healthcare management
It is now easy to remotely monitor health and emergency notification systems by use of IoT devices. These devices range from the simple heart rate and blood pressure monitors to more complex equipment like pacemakers, advanced hearing aids and Fitbits electronic wristbands. Other special sensors can also be equipped within the living systems to monitor health and ensure general well-being of the senior citizens while making sure that proper treatment is administered helping people regain their lost mobility via therapy. Heart monitors that are wearable and scales that are connected are possibilities still within the IoT. Antenatal and chronic patients will be in a position to manage their serious health aspects as well as requirements of recurring medication as more and more end-to-end health monitoring IoT devices continue to show up.
Building and home automation
In a smart home, such a connectivity of devices will ease remote control and automation of air conditioners, ventilation, fridges and freezers, ovens, air purifiers, and appliances like dryers using Wi-Fi. This is the phenomenon known as Building Automation Systems (BAS). The objectives of building automated systems is to improve occupants comfort, ensure efficient operations in the building, reduce power consumption and extend the useful life of facilities. BAS is a form of distribution control system that involves computer networking of electrical and electronic devices aimed at monitoring and controlling the lighting, fire and flood safety, ventilation, humidity and security systems in a building. A building under a BAS monitoring system is referred to as an “intelligent building” or at the residence level a “smart home”
Internet of things can help in integrating communication, control and processing of information across different transport systems. IoT application moves up to all aspects of the transport system i.e. the road, vehicle and the driver. The connectivity among these components of the transport sector enables smart parking, smart traffic control, inter and intra-vehicular communications, road and safety assistance, fleet management and electronic toll collection systems.
The IoT’s downside
Research shows that about 88% of the population are either overwhelmed by IoT or know negligibly little about the whole thing. Therefore, this affects the IoT penetration since people do not know about it. People embrace what they think they know all its aspects and outright benefits and ignore what appears to be too much for them to understand. For any system to go far, it must be embraced by the society. If this acceptance doesn’t happen due to some propaganda or few disadvantages that find a place in the minds of individuals before benefits do, then the system cannot grow. A good example is the genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A survey conducted in the US shows that 69% of the US citizens are highly concerned about the data security and privacy if IoT can access all information concerning almost everything. Despite the great potential of internet of things to improve access to information, increase government transparency and eminently empower citizens, it faces enormous privacy threats. These threats have made many people to think that big data infrastructures like internet of things and data mining are completely incompatible with privacy. A writer Greenfield posits that this level of technology is an invasion to public space and a method to perpetuate normative behavior. The IoT council compares this kind of increased digital surveillance to a panopticon concept developed by Jeremy Bentham.
The American civic liberty union claims that this technology will reduce people control over their own lives. It says that there is no simple way to forecast how such great powers accumulating in the hands of corporations seeking financial advantage and a government that is each day craving for more and more control will be used. They said that the public finds it hard to control their lives while it remains so transparent to corporations and government that continue to more and more opaque to them.
To respond to the privacy concerns from the people about smart technology, the British government promised to adhere to policies of ‘privacy by design’ while implementing the smart metering program. The program would replace the traditional power meters with smart power meters that would track, monitor and manage energy usage more accurately. However, the British computer society is still skeptic if these principals were ever implemented.