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Blog // Connect Michigan

The Potential of the Internet of Things

By Wil Payton

The Internet of Things (IoT) is considered the next evolutionary phase in connecting our digital world, ensuring machines and assorted devices can “talk” to each other and make decisions with limited human interaction.

In 1999, Kevin Ashton, executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, became noted for being the first to use the term the Internet of Things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble. Subsequently, the term has taken a life of its own on websites, in research papers, books. and other publications. Below is an excerpt from Ashton’s presentation:

“Today computers -- and, therefore, the Internet -- are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. 

The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy -- all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things -- using data they gathered without any help from us -- we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost.”

Jordi Botifoll is president of Cisco Latin America. In a News is My Business Op-Ed, he give some practical examples of how cities around the world have the potential to benefit from IoT or as he phrases it, the Internet of Everything:

“The Internet of Everything is able to make parking systems in cities immeasurably more efficient. Knowing what parking lots are empty, book them before you arrive, and pay according to the proximity or remoteness of where we will go, gives us many advantages. A sensor in each parking space is activated depending on whether it is occupied or empty. A smartphone guides the car to the nearest available parking. It is estimated that 40 percent of traffic in cities is caused by people trying to find a parking place. Cities can increase their income by 30 percent optimizing the parking structure via the “Internet of Everything”.

“The possibilities that “Internet of Everything” offers the cities are endless, according to the city’s needs. Cities can automate their video surveillance, garbage collection (to only be collected when the garbage cans are full), street lighting so that lights only come on when someone comes to the site, to collect tolls in areas heavily congested without putting booths or disrupt mobility, among others.”

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