The Internet of Everything: Boring, But So Important

When we are just getting used to Twitter and Facebook, Email and SPAM, along comes "The Internet of Everything" (IoE) where everything -- well almost everything -- is connected to everything else.


Goldman Sachs calls it the 3rd wave, and points out that while:

The 1990s' fixed Internet wave connected 1 billion users ... the 2000s' mobile wave connected another 2 billion. The IoE has the potential to connect 10X as many (28 billion) "things" to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars.


If we put some kind of sensor in a thing -- a tree, a car or a household appliance like a toilet -- wireless communication will allow us to connect it to the Internet for transmission, aggregation, or other use. Wireless Tags, for example, a company headquartered in Irvine, California advertises that their "sensor tags connect events in (the) physical world, e.g. motion, door/window opened/closed, temperature or humidity exceeding limits, to your smart phones, tablets and any Web browsers anywhere in the world with Internet access. "

With California suffering droughts, it might make sense to flood the state with sensors that turn on and off sprinklers only when absolutely necessary. Or, because of soaring health care costs, install Toto's Intelligence Toilet II, "which can measure, record, show and report important health data like blood pressure, sugar levels, body temperature, weight, and body mass index so trends can be analyzed." This is a lot more efficient than crowding the emergency rooms or depending on an annual physical exam.

Today's Internet of Things (IoT) innovations aren't a fluke -- they're the future. Every day, cheaply manufactured sensors are being placed underground, into buildings and into people's pockets -- and government is finding that the arrangement suits its needs nicely.

From tasks as small as shaving a few seconds off a person's commute or finding a parking space to saving the lives of lost hikers, IoT technology is changing how governments serve their citizens.

When we think of the Internet we think of communications in the usual sense, i.e., sending messages, chatting on a social media site or ordering goods and services. Some new innovations will depend on market dynamics but will slowly evolve as necessaries for more consumers. Thinking about IoE and governments however -- cities in particular -- is a more revolutionary effort, and as IBM explains:

City administrations must decide what activities are core, and, therefore, what they should shed, retain or expand into. Not only that, cities must "assemble the team" - integrate their own administrations and work with other levels of government, especially country-level, as well as private and non-profit sectors.

Cities must also take into account the interrelationships among the systems they are based on, as well as the interactions among the challenges they face.

The payoffs are huge. According to Cisco Systems:

IoE could generate $4.6 trillion in value for the global public sector by 2022 through cost savings, productivity gains, new revenues and improved citizen experiences... Cities have the potential to claim almost two-thirds of the non-defense (civilian) IoE public sector value.

Cities will capture much of this value by implementing killer apps in which "$100 billion can be saved in smart buildings alone by "reducing energy consumption.

Business and government, cities and counties, indeed everyone with a stake in America's future, needs to begin thinking about the role of technology and cities, about the Internet of Everything and the promise it offers.