The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next-generation convergence of mature technologies that already dominate our lives, from wireless communications and sensors, to the Internet and always-connected mobile devices, to embedded systems, to micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). And it is not just the technology infrastructure that is paving the way for the IoT revolution, but also our own evolving attitudes to the digital world. A 2014 report “Interactivity Beyond the Screen” from Ericsson ConsumerLab examines consumer expectations from the IoT and its key findings are very interesting. If initially the digital environment was designed to reflect the physical world (desktops, files, folders, etc.), people are now interacting with screens from a young age and the relationship between screen and physical experiences is being reversed: there is a growing expectation for everyday places and objects to be as connected and interactive as our screens.
There are already sophisticated solutions in place that can be considered prototypes for the IoT – such as home & building automation or smart grids, which integrate many remote sensors and actuators into a cloud-based, data-driven optimization and control system. But the very scale of the IoT will differentiate it from today’s precursors. In a March 2014 press release, Gartner predicted that by 2020 the IoT will include 26 billion units installed and “IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services.”
Before the IoT can be transformed from vision into reality there are still hurdles to be overcome, such as global adoption of IPv6 in the coming years in order to extend the current IPv4 address space which allows for only 4.3 billion unique addresses. In addition, data centers will have to enhance their processing and analytics capabilities in order to handle the huge quantities of real-time IoT data that will be coming their way. Last but not least, the issue of IoT data security must be thoroughly addressed before full-scale implementations can be undertaken in infrastructure-oriented areas such as the water industry. However, the question is no longer if the IoT will happen but rather when. The infographic below from IoT company Libelium shows just some of the ways that the IoT will make our world smarter, with the water industry scenarios highlighted in red:
The Arad Group has been at the forefront of water metering innovation for close to 75 years. Yair Zonensein, VP Marketing, states: “At Arad we are already assessing the feasibility of IP-enabled devices and systems that will allow our municipal and regional water utility customers around the globe to join the IoT revolution, for even more efficient water management and unprecedented levels of customer service.”