The Internet of Things – the beginning
In recent years there has been worldwide interest in the different ways to exchange data using devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity. These data transfers are widely referred to as “the Internet of Things”.
But what does that even mean?
The Internet of Things is a development of the internet – a leap from what we take for granted
NOW, i.e. people sharing data with other people, people sharing data with objects, objects talking to other objects.
The popular definition on the internet defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as the ability of objects to be embedded with connectivity technology – sensors, networks and analytics software so that objects are able to share data with other objects with little or no human intervention i.e objects are embedded with intelligence technology that enable the decision of what data to share and when to share it is made with little or no human intervention.
Physical objects and devices for daily personal use, business, industry and infrastructure are being designed with built-in wireless connectivity to they can be monitored, controlled and linked to each other, over the internet via a mobile App.
Just about anything can be connected to computer systems allowing the status, location and activities of products, assets and people to be shared across networks.
Why? The development of the Internet of Things is all about being able to provide users of just about anything with smarter and more efficient experiences.
The Internet of Things, via your smartphone App, allows you to check on your baby, track your activity levels, remind you to take your medication, monitor your aging parent, ensure your oven or iron is switched off, find your keys, control the lighting and temperature in your home, and keep your plants watered.
In your smart city, the Internet of Things means that traffic will be controlled to ensure flow and pollution control and waste management will maximise resource protection. In business and industry, IoT will be able to predict product and equipment malfunction to enable maintenance and repair efficiency, monitor the quality and integrity of physical structures and operational systems and keep track of assets.
A well-known example of the development of IoT, now available in Australia, is the Nest Thermostat. This Wi-Fi-connected thermostat allows you to remotely adjust the temperature where your cooling or heating appliance is located via your mobile device. This device is also able to record and share your behavioural patterns of use with other devices such as your smartphone to create a temperature-setting schedule.
This means you can save money on your power bill by being able to remotely turn off your air conditioner if you have forgotten to turn it off.
The sky is really the limit of the type of objects and appliances that can be built with embedded wireless connectivity – just about every household and personal use appliance, transport systems, medical equipment to entire “smart” cities.
With the explosion of number of devices that will be connected and sharing data about location, habits, movements of users of IoT devices, the biggest debate around the slow but sure development of IoT is security and privacy of data.
We already are challenged with keeping up with updating latest version codes for our computers, smartphones and tablets. IoT means more, many, many, more devices to keep updated and free of security bugs.
Navigating the amount of data IoT devices will generate to identify suspicious traffic over the network, or simply missing incidents or threats because we are not able to identify them is another security challenge.
Other potential security risks that could cause harm to users include IoT devices enabling unauthorised access and misuse of personal information on networks and facilitating attacks on other systems.
The development of security features to protect and manage the vast amounts of data that IoT devices share across networks is of primary concern to developers as companies struggle with standartising platforms to enable data sharing across different interfaces and platforms and managing the vast amounts of data within data privacy policies and legislation that regulate data retention practices within the IT industry.