The “connected to everything” economy has arrived. As Moore’s Law predicted, the processing capability of computers is doubling every 12 to 18 months. And the pace of technology advancement is increasing by leaps and bounds: what took 66 minutes to occur in 2013 will happen in 30 seconds in 2020!
More important, technology adoption is trending upwards as devices and technology become more affordable. When you consider that it took 30 years for electricity and 25 years for telephones to reach a 10% adoption rate, it’s mind-boggling to see tablet devices achieve the same penetration rate in less than five years.
Powered by both the rising tide of technology advancement and user adoption, the Internet of Things (IoT) could solve some of today’s most intractable global problems.
1. Increasing pressure on the world’s energy supply
Every second, the urban population grows by two people, which will inevitably lead to a 40% increase in worldwide energy demand by 2030. Thanks to the IoT, commonly referred to as the third industrial revolution, device interconnectivity is beginning to drive the adoption of smart-grid technology. Meters, sensors, and other digital tools are controlling the flow of energy while reducing emissions through the integration of alternative sources of power such as solar and wind. IoT is also helping to lower manufacturing costs drastically by reducing waste, lowering fuel consumption, and discarding economically unsustainable assets.
In addition to the sustainable use of resources, a city’s infrastructure could benefit greatly from an integrated, multi-modal transport system. Data generated from roadside sensors can help analyze traffic patterns around the city and adjust traffic-light operations to prevent traffic jams. And maybe, one day, it can even trigger an automatic shutdown of speeding cars and identify drunk drivers before they start to drive!
2. Lower quality of life due to environmentally driven population displacement
Climate change continues to have a significant effect on our ecosystems, economies, and communities. In fact, 250 million people will be displaced by 2050 as a result. Although this trend will undoubtedly impact the quality of life, the IoT can help mitigate – if not, improve – the situation for many.
For example, security and safety, especially of women and children, can be enhanced with real-time surveillance feeds transmitted to the police department. Children will no longer have to walk to schools that are miles away from home; instead, they will experience interactive learning from the world’s best teachers on handheld devices.
3. Increased risk of lifestyle diseases
With today’s medical advancements, non-communicable or chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes, will cause greater loss of health and life worldwide than infectious or childhood diseases and accidents. While the IoT may never be able to eliminate death, it is shifting people’s focus from illness to wellness. Even the most remote areas can receive medical attention from doctors through telemedicine, mHealth, and assisted care.
The IoT: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to raise up humankind
The IoT is offering us an incredible opportunity to mitigate problems related to environmental degradation, which humankind has created in the name of development. Will we seize these use cases and invest in them to encourage sustainable development of our planet? It all depends on us.
Success in the IoT requires new levels of speed, agility, and flexibility, not just from the systems delivering IoT services but also from the people charged with making those services happen. Learn How to Rewire the Organization for the Internet of Things.