The first experience many communications service providers have with the Internet of Things (IoT) is in home monitoring and automation services, but its the business market, not the residential market, that represents some of the biggest opportunities.
The Internet of Things is big enough to encompass things like fitness monitors and flying drone cameras you control with your smartphone, but thats far from the only thing that people were thinking about when they decided to rename the machine-to-machine (M2M) business.
They were thinking about vast numbers of items everything from simple sensors to complex machines in regular contact via the Internet, all subject to command and control. Many of those applications, and therefore many of the biggest opportunities in the IoT market, will be outside the consumer sphere.
Rio de Janeiro had Cisco, IBM, and Samsung equip its streets with sensors and monitors, which it uses for traffic monitoring and control. The city reports that it has sped its emergency response by 20 percent.
Russian petroleum company Lukoil wanted to increase the production of oil and exports from its oil terminal in the Timan-Pechora basin in the Arctic. The company contracted with Emerson Process Management to install 700 instruments to detect, diagnose, and measure onshore, offshore, and underwater pipeline systems to help it monitor both environmental conditions and oil production systems to help it achieve its goals.
BC Hydro in Canada installed about 1.8 million smart meters. The company can monitor the meters and update their firmware remotely. The company claims to have reduced theft by 75 percent, and to have saved $330 million in meter reading and $224 million in self-service tools. The systems were set up by Cisco, Itron, Cap Gemini, and Accenture.
That its possible to create such disparate systems is encouraging, but the overall market is still in its infancy.
One of the biggest IoT initiatives is the U.S. Smart Grid program, now formally in its fifth year.
Homes across the country are studded with smart power meters at least 46 million of them at the end of 2013, on the way to an estimated 65 million at the end of 2015. Utilities are saving some money and seeing some efficiencies associated directly with reading and monitoring those meters.
The full promise of installing all those meters is nowhere near being realized yet, however. The vision was to have smart appliances too washers and dryers and dishwashers that the people could load and set to turn on at those points in the day (or, more likely, in the middle of the night) when electrical power rates were lower. Smart versions of those and other appliances are lacking.
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