IoT – Real life applications behind the buzzword

Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock has heard the term “Internet of Things” or IoT. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding IoT and how it will change the way we live, work and interact. It’s deemed to be the next big thing and is a trending topic across the globe. But what does it really mean? And most importantly what does it mean to consumers in everyday life?

What is IoT? Simply put the Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that interrelated devices, machines and objects can connect and communicate with one another exchanging information and data over the Internet without requiring human-to-human or human to computer interaction. This includes pretty much anything you can think of – from cell phones, washing machines and gadgets to printers and sensors.  Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. To put that into perspective, that represents three connected devices for every human on the planet. So it’s little wonder that the market opportunity for IoT is calculated in trillions of dollars.

IoT in day-to-day life IoT is considered the most innovative technology concept since the Internet and it promises to change the role of technology in everyday life. Imagine a world where every device could speak to one another. Imagine if your cellphone calendar could synchronise with your GPS and your car would know where you have to be on any given day. And what if your laptop would automatically order flowers for your wife’s birthday and your home appliances could start cooking dinner before you arrive home. IoT could have groundbreaking applications in everyday life for each and every one of us. But what are the business implications?

IoT in business and cities The real value of IoT for businesses is DATA, but it only becomes valuable when analysed in real time by cloud-based applications. Cloud based applications are essential in leveraging data – by interpreting and transmitting information in real time, data becomes business insight. This is perfectly illustrated with smart sensors monitoring all sorts of data and cloud-based apps translating that data into useful business knowledge for key decision makers – all in real time. The applications and implications are endless and this is not a futuristic vision of IoT. It is already a reality with many companies using smart sensors to provide them with real time critical data and business insight. Think of Smart Buildings. Think of the implications of IoT and smart sensors in the context of Buildings.

IoT and Smart Buildings What makes a Smart Building Smart? Automated processes? Good customer experience? Seamless service delivery? Remote monitoring? Intelligent central control? The answer is all of the above and more. A Smart Building is only Smart if:

  1. Its operations are so smooth that the building operator is saving costs,

  2. Control and monitoring of the building is so efficient there is reduced risk to tenants and building assets, and

  3. The overall tenant experience is easy and enjoyable.

You guessed it. All of this is possible thanks to IoT. With smart sensors in place, you can optimise things like light, temperature and energy consumption thereby improving the tenant experience. But the real benefit comes from transforming building operations from a reactive service model to a preventative one in which critical asset failure is prevented with real time data. This not only saves building operators money but it also creates a safer living environment.

What if we went a step further and told you, you could have a central software that would streamline your operations, seamlessly link your CAFM to remote monitoring so that alerts from your smart sensors would directly link to your maintenance teams and that would also generate new sources of revenues with existing resources and services. The Urbanise Platform does all of this and more.

With the Urbanise e-commerce portal for services, tenants can order anything from pet walking to maintenance, electrical or handyman services from the comfort of their own home while building operators generate new sources of revenues using the same resources as previously used in every day facility management services.

In addition, the Urbanise smart sensors deliver visibility and control of the building, while the CAFM and operations centre of the Urbanise platform help facility and building managers streamline operations and consequently reduce costs.

As CEO Benjamin Churchill states: “At Urbanise, we are all about enabling new business models. We’re not interested in a sensor that’s producing data for no real purpose or application. It has to be wrapped in a service. So we enable new services using IoT. For example, in a building you would traditionally have a building management system that doesn’t talk to anything. It allows you to control the building (if it’s configured correctly), but if you’re making decisions on services you need to be able to externalise information. Let’s take an air conditioning unit. You might have a regular schedule to inspect it every month, to service it every quarter, to take it out and rebuild it every year. Other than that kind of developed best practice, there’s no real reason for that schedule to exist. But because that’s the standard that has been put in place – that’s what happens.”

Delivering smart services in an efficient building with seamless operations is the only way building operators can make their buildings SMART and start capitalizing on the IoT technology.