“The Internet of Things (IoT) is an incredible development, perhaps one of the most technologically mind-boggling achievement of the last decade,” said ZincFive’s Pete Johnson at the ITS World Congress in Montreal earlier this month. “But if the power goes out what have you got? The Internet of No Things. Where’s the value in that?”
Johnson has a point – a point that was out there to be disproved by a panel of experts at INTERSECT17 primed and ready to discuss the role of IoT in the Smart City and pertinently, its value proposition. Joining GRIDSMART Chief Technology Officer Dr. Jeff Price were Zipit Wireless’ Vice President of Business Development Ralph Heredia and John Muhlner, Alliance Director for Sensity Systems, a Verizon company.
“It’s not really about smart cities,” said Price, “but smart communities. Communities need real world examples of how the Internet of Things can benefit their lives.”
Muhlner, describing Verizon as “deeply embedded in IoT” with the emphasis on strategic partnerships, cited one such real world example where the Internet of Things is making a difference to the daily lives of a community. In New York City, a number of municipal dumpsters have been fitted with IoT-enabled devices, allowing the receptacles to wirelessly report when they are overflowing and alert the waste management division of an imminent rat infestation.
“That’s not a Verizon solution,” he admitted, “but it’s a great example of how IoT can create a better environment for a community.”
Zipit’s Heredia had a solution that was as equally domestically rooted.
“The IoT-enabled home dryer is a good example. How often does your dryer make that encouraging beep that suggests that it’s dried your clothes but you open the door and find that they are still damp? You go back 20 minutes later and they are still damp. With an IoT-enabled dryer, it has the required intelligence to know what materials your load is made from and it only tells you that your washing is dry when it’s actually dry.”
Muhlner suggested, somewhat provocatively, that customers and in particular cities don’t really care how the solution works, just that it does, and that it’s compatible with other systems. “That’s where the true value lies.”
For Heredia it’s important to get the balance right when it comes to the use of the technology.
“To me it’s about platform consolidation. Communities need to figure out the best way to use the data, just as communities in Utah have done, as Carlos Braceras told us yesterday.” Do smart trash compactors need to be 5G-enabled? Of course not – Verizon’s new CATM1 network is designed for just those purposes.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then it can be said that smartness is, too. Heredia cited another example very close to home of how IoT is improving lives.
“My mother is 75 and doesn’t have a smartphone or a computer. She loves having photos of her grandkids so I bought her an IoT-enabled digital photo frame. I upload pictures of my kids onto it remotely from my phone so she regularly has new photos of them. To her, and to me, that’s a tangible value proposition of the Internet of Things.”