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The Internet of Everything: Where Technology and Innovation Meet To Make the World a Better Place

What will the future be like? As depicted in today’s popular movies and books, the future is either one of bright promise—where the world’s greatest problems have been solved by technology and greater human enlightenment—or it’s a dystopian world where today’s problems have only gotten worse, technology has gone bad, and the very survival of humanity is at risk.

As Cisco’s chief futurist, it’s my job to think about what the world will look like in a few years, and how our actions today will impact that future. And while I’m not ready to put on my rose-colored glasses just yet, I do have an optimistic view of what the future may bring, enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE). Within 10 years, there will be 50 billion connected things in the world, with trillions of connections among them. These connections will change the world for the better in ways we can’t even imagine today. But here are just a few things I can imagine:

Better supply of food: Sensors all along the food supply chain, together with Big Data analytics and the intelligence of the cloud, will help us optimize the delivery of food from “farm to fork.” Sensors in the field will be combined with weather forecasts and other data to trigger irrigation and harvest times for each crop. And sensors on the food itself will alert merchants and consumers about when the “sell by” and “use by” dates are approaching to prevent spoilage. All of this will significantly reduce food waste—which today amounts to about one-third of total world food production.

Better supply of water: Similarly, about 30 percent of our water supply is lost due to leaks and waste. Just one faucet or leaky pipe dripping three times a minute will waste more than 100 gallons of water a year. “Smart” pipes can reduce this waste significantly by sensing and pinpointing the location of leaks that would otherwise go undetected for months or years.

Better access to education: Affordable access to education is one of the most important ways to lift people out of poverty. Soon, time and distance will no longer limit access to an engaging, affordable, high-quality education. With connection speeds going up, and equipment costs going down, distance learning is going beyond traditional online classes to create widely accessible immersive, interactive, real-time learning experiences.

Better access to healthcare: Urbanization and population growth are putting a strain on healthcare resources—especially in rural areas. After the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, Cisco was a strategic partner in creating a networked medical delivery system, including four telehealth networks that allow doctors to meet with and examine patients remotely. But those capabilities are just the beginning of what IoE will make possible. Soon, women with high-risk pregnancies will be able to wear a tiny, always-on fetal monitoring electronic “tattoo,” which will communicate to the cloud whenever the woman is within range of a wireless network. The analytics capabilities in the cloud will alert doctors at the first sign of trouble, and even tell the mother-to-be when she needs to drink more water, or get more rest.

While sensors and machine-to-machine communication are important parts of these solutions, it’s not just the “Internet of Things” that is making all of this possible—it’s the Internet of Everything—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. And Big Data analytics is what brings the intelligence to all of these connections, enabling new kinds of processes, and helping us make smarter decisions.

I’ve highlighted just four areas where IoE will change the world for the better. But there is not a single part of life that will not be impacted in some way—whether that means improving your drive to work, speeding you through the checkout line at the grocery store, saving energy through smart lighting, or minimizing your wait at a traffic light. The Internet of Everything is not a silver bullet that can solve all the world’s woes, but with the spark of human innovation, IoE can be the engine for a better future.

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Breaking Down Barriers to Children’s Healthcare in Brazil

sergipe_mapThis week, Cisco launched its newest CSR program – Connected Healthy Children – Brazil.

Much of the Brazilian population lives far away from major cities, so distance can pose a real barrier for children who need specialized medical care. For example, 41 percent of all infants under age 1 and 90 percent of newborns with congenital heart disease are in remote areas.

Connected Healthy Children – Brazil is intended to help reduce the disparity of access to specialized care between urban and rural areas. In the northeastern state of Sergipe, Cisco is partnering with the state’s only University Hospital in Aracaju to support remote consultations for patients and families, and also improve education, training, and decision-making for care teams.

Advanced telepresence and collaboration systems and cloud technology will connect Family Health Clinics in Tobias Barreto and Lagarto with pediatric specialists at the Federal Medical University campus in Lagarto and the University Hospital in Aracaju. A team enabled with mobile technology will provide specialist access to even more remote areas.

The launch event on November 4, 2013 at the Federal University of Sergipe was attended by approximately 150 people in person and remotely via Cisco TelePresence video conferencing solution – one of the technologies being deployed for Connected Healthy Children – Brazil.

We will report more on the impact we are having on children’s healthcare in Brazil in the coming months. Please follow Cisco CSR on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ to stay informed!

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Video-Equipped Mobile Clinics Bring City Doctors to Clinics

Today, the Wall Street Journal featured a video on Cisco’s Connecting Sichuan program, which revitalized healthcare with technology in Sichuan Province after a massive earthquake in 2008.

The program included mobile clinics equipped with Cisco videoconferencing technology and uplinks. Today these clinics connect rural villages to more than 30 networked hospitals around the region, giving rural doctors real-time face time with more experienced doctors hundreds of miles away.

Watch the entire Wall Street Journal video about Connecting Sichuan.

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Cisco Technology Allows for Virtual Visits with Medical Specialists

Amanda Spencer’s young son, Jonathan, needs specialty medical care that isn’t available in the family’s hometown of Monterey, California. But through Cisco HealthPresence technology, Amanda and Jonathan can meet with a pediatric urologist at Stanford University, 80 miles away, without even leaving Monterey.

“In Monterey, it’s a small town and we really don’t have enough children in the community to support certain specialties,” Dr. Todd A. Dwelle, a pediatrician at the Pediatric Group of Monterey, said during an interview with KION-TV. “So this system allows areas such as ours that are underserved in that regard to bring in as needed pediatric specialists from Stanford.”

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Tune In, Turn On And Meet Your Doctor

This blog was originally posted on the Huffington Post

We are now witnessing children’s health care expanding across the nation with advancements in video-based networking and collaborative technologies. A virtual visit by a renowned pediatric specialist at your local clinic is now becoming a reality in a growing number of communities.

As one in five children in the U.S. seek specialist medical care this year, ready availability of pediatric sub-specialists is critical for our children’s health and healthy communities. These specialists are in short supply, however, and tend to be clustered in the major metropolitan cities. Wait times for initial appointments can range from three to nine months. According to Time Magazine, 15 million children live in rural enclaves where the ratio of pediatricians and family physicians is 22 for every 100,000 kids. That’s a patient load of more than 4,500 children per doctor. Outside the U.S., those numbers drastically increase.

Today, telehealth pilot programs with a video interface from a medical specialty facility to a local clinic are vastly improving access to pediatric specialty care. With no travel to the big city to see a specialist and no associated travel costs, families reduce time lost at work and school to receive care for their children.

In Jordan, Cisco “care-at-a-distance” technologies connect patients at two rural hospitals to specialists in Amman, the capital. Traveling to Amman is expensive or prohibitive for many people, but now they can get the specialty care they need through remote consultations.

In Jordan, Cisco “care-at-a-distance” technologies connect patients at two rural hospitals to specialists in Amman, the capital. Traveling to Amman is expensive or prohibitive for many people, but now they can get the specialty care they need through remote consultations.

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