The Internet of Things is on the rise with Statista Inc. predicting that by 2020 the installed base of IoT devices is forecasted to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide; this being nothing new by the way… for those of you bright eyed and bushy tailed folks (I like to think I’m in the same category), one of the first internet (OK, ARPANET)-connected appliances was a coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University, back in 1982 (way back when!) and later a coffee machine in 1992 at Cambridge University – if you are really interested in this sort of trivia, check out RFC2324 for the coffee control protocol!

In this ever changing and getting-more-connected society, tech vendors are endeavouring to help big businesses to be more operationally efficient and potentially keep up with the demand of the consumer. Typically, these businesses operate in a very competitive market place so any advantage over their competition is key to achieving their overall bottom line and satisfying their shareholders and investors. When we talk about IoT we need to think of the infrastructure to support this demand. Ultimately this means a faster infrastructure to be able to deliver it is required, nowadays mobile…enter 5G.

Let’s take a quick look at the current mobile landscape.

We know that 2G delivers the voice element for a mobile phone (its intended purpose from the outset), 3G typically delivers voice and data access over a mobile phone network and more recently 4G delivers voice over LTE (Long Term Evolution) and a faster data speed, hence the emergence of the smartphone and the ‘all-you-can-eat’ data contract. Imagine what 5G will be able to do in enabling IoT on a grander scale! To put into context 5G will provide an anticipated 1000X wireless capacity and more varied service capabilities and content delivery compared to those back in 2010. Think of every consumable item (most of which we all have around the home today) having some form of connectivity to the Internet. The connected world is here to stay and the opportunities it brings (both good and not-so-good) are limitless.

With the rise of the ‘everything-connected-all-the-time-because-we-can’ environment, the reality of autonomous vehicles will no longer be something out of a Hollywood movie (autopilot takes off). Imagine IoT within the healthcare (electronic tattoo), emergency services using drones to provide vital resources to patients when they cannot arrive at a critical health incident quick enough. Adding sensors to medicines (self-aware pill) allow healthcare professionals to track how well a patient is sticking to their treatment. The managing of power grids, the main arteries of our critical transport infrastructure including, bridges, ports and train services. The real-time notification and trending analysis will provide the vital information for operational teams to respond or act upon which will drive more efficiency and speedier responses and ultimately save lives.

The UK Government have already invested £16 million into three Universities who will be linked up via 5G test beds. According to The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) “[the technology] could be used in the future to help communicate with autonomous cars as part of smart home and city infrastructure”.

So what does all this mean to you and me? – probably a great deal in the grand scheme of things and within a connected world we need to be more aware of the security risks that surround both the corporations operation and our increasing demand of applications, especially those that might contain your ‘crown jewels’: your username and password! –Imagine losing those because someone compromised the web server in your fridge and hopped onto your (unsecured) wireless home network. They could potentially see every keystroke you make, access your bank accounts, steal your identity, ruin your credit rating – the list goes on and it’s a scary one.

The dangers of all these are there for all to see. I would urge you to read a piece from (The Nemertes Research Group, inc), a research, advisory and strategic consulting firm that specialises in analysing and quantifying the business value of emerging technologies.

Whilst we embrace this world of technology for all the benefits it brings we must not forget the many disadvantages and pitfalls that come with it. The key is to ensure we treat it with the utmost respect in order to prevent any malicious activity!

Related articles