Protecting privacy in an IoT-connected world.

Author:Smith, Michael S.
Position:TECH TRENDS - Internet of Things

To say we live in a connected world is an understatement in light of the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is described in "Internet of Things Global Standards Initiative' by ITU--the United Nation's agency for information and communications technologies--as the network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity that enable them to collect and exchange data.

The Rise of IoT

Gartner says by the end of 2015, 4.9 billion connected things will be in use--up 30% from 2014. Three factors have played a significant role:

  1. The development of the personal computer

  2. Ubiquitous computing at low costs

  3. Low-cost storage

    A more recent business trend contributing to escalating data volumes is commonly referred to as SMAC, which involves using four major technologies --social, mobile, analytics, and the cloud--to engage with and collect data about customers, which is then analyzed and used to drive innovation, process improvements, and productivity.

    IoT's Anticipated Growth

    The number of IoT connections continues to grow exponentially:

    Gartner predicts 25 billion devices will be connected to the IoT by 2020.

    IDC predicts that in that same year, the "digital universe" will reach 44 zettabytes--that's 640.2 billion 64GB tablets full of data--by a world population that's projected to be fewer than 8 billion people, according to the July 2015 update to the International Data Base.

    IoT's Daily Influence

    The IoT is being leveraged by people and organizations across the industry spectrum for a variety of purposes, changing nearly everybody's daily lives, as shown in the following examples.

    Personal Use

    IoT connections can send an individual's blood pressure, glucose levels, and other medical metrics to doctors. Pedometers and health meters on smart watch devices also help people track and share their progress toward their personal health goals.

    Sensors on cars alert emergency services to accidents, and responders locate accidents via geographic positioning systems.

    "Smart" homes have thermostats that can be adjusted, lights that can be turned off and on, and garage doors that can be opened and closed via smartphone, refrigerators that can track food supplies through radio frequency identification tags and automatically order more, and washing machines that turn on when the demand for energy is low.

    Introduced in March, Amazon's Wi-Fi-enabled Dash buttons can be located in kitchens, bathrooms, and garages, enabling users to reorder the products they use frequently in those locations with a single click.

    Government Use

    "Smart" cities are also a growing trend around the globe. Sensors combined with information and communication technologies run cities more efficiently and effectively, reducing costs and the consumption of valuable resources.

    Singapore, for example, connects smart devices to taxi mirrors to monitor traffic congestion. The sensors feed data into a centralized hub and analytics predict traffic patterns and redirect traffic lights to improve traffic.

    Global Use

    The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Digital Economy Outlook shows South Korea as the most-connected country, with 37.9 things connected to the Internet per 100 people. Interestingly, the United States is fourth at 24.9 per hundred...

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