When the history of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is written, its success or failure will be determined by answering one question. How did IoE benefit humanity? In the end, nothing else matters.

With this in mind, let’s look at two examples of how IoE will benefit people, both today and tomorrow.

Today—Transforming the World’s Cities
To revitalize the world’s largest cities, City24/7 — a company committed to making public communications more accessible to everyone, everywhere — in collaboration with Cisco IBSG and the City of New York has launched an interactive platform that integrates information from open government programs, local businesses, and citizens to provide meaningful and powerful knowledge anytime, anywhere, on any device. In short, City24/7 delivers the information people need to know, where and when it helps them most.

Located at bus stops, train stations, major entryways, shopping malls, and sports facilities, City24/7 Smart Screens incorporate touch, voice, and audio technology to deliver a wide array of hyper-local (about two square city blocks) information, services, and offerings in real time. The Smart Screens can also be accessed via Wi-Fi on nearby smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers.

The overarching goals of the City24/7 Smart Screens are to:

  • Inform by instantly connecting people with information that is relevant to their immediate proximity
  • Protect by giving local police and fire departments a citywide sensing, communications, and response network that can direct needed personal and resources exactly where and when they are needed
  • Revitalize by increasing levels of commerce, investment, and tourism

Another prime example of IoE in action today is “connected public lighting.” Public lighting is making a transition from analog to digital, from fluorescent light bulbs to solid-state lighting—all connected to an energy grid through a variety of last-mile access technologies. Additional savings are being achieved by incorporating connected (Internet-based) controls, and by using the lighting network for other connected services.

Cisco and Philips are currently looking at how extra benefits can be derived in cities by connecting public street lighting to the Internet—the “Energy Internet” (sometimes called “Smart Grid”)—and other IP networks, which will add significant advantages to the stand-alone benefits of LED lighting.

The Energy Internet relies on a mix of enabling devices and intelligent data-treatment tools, which, in turn, trigger smarter decisions in infrastructure operation and management. These components include data-collection devices (sensors and metering systems that enable cities to generate information about lighting infrastructure usage and condition) and, of course, intelligent networks (which connect these devices with a central data-collection unit).

The Energy Internet—part of the growing Internet of Everything—will create more resource-efficient, environmentally resilient cities, help ensure the safety and security of city residents, and assist cities in establishing an attractive, vibrant image.

IoE Tomorrow—Conquering Climate Change
While it may seem out of reach today (and possibly laughable to some), IoE will eventually allow us to become better stewards of our finite resources by improving how we sense, understand, and even manage our environment. As billions and even trillions of sensors are placed around the globe and in our atmosphere, we will gain the ability to literally hear our world’s “heartbeat.” Indeed, we will know when our planet is healthy or sick. With this intimate understanding, we can begin to eradicate some of our most pressing challenges, including hunger and ensuring the availability of drinkable water.

  • Hunger: By understanding and predicting long-term weather patterns, farmers will be able to plant crops that have the greatest chance for success. And, once the fields are harvested, more efficient (and, therefore, less-expensive) transportation systems will allow for the distribution and delivery of food from places where there is abundance to places where there is scarcity.
  • Drinkable water: While IoE may not be able to create water where it is needed most, it will have the ability to fix many of the problems that reduce our clean water supply, such as industrial waste, unsustainable agriculture, and poor urban planning. For example, smart sensors located throughout a city’s water system will detect when there is a leak and automatically divert water to avoid unnecessary waste. The same sensor will alert utility personnel so that the problem can be fixed as soon as resources are available.

While this example may seem unrealistic, consider how people, businesses, and countries could contribute to and benefit from all of the various components and processes that need to come together for this scenario to become a reality.

The opportunities are nearly limitless.

Let me know what you think. How will IoE benefit your business or organization?

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