The IoT: Speaking the same language will unlock its true potential
We’re smart people, many of us own smart phones, but how far away are we from living in smart cities? In Sydney, maybe not far at all.
Much has been made of the potential the Internet of Things (IoT heralds. By 2025 there will be over 50 billion IoT devices across the world, and it will be making a US$11 trillion annual impact to the global economy.
For this potential to be realised however, we need to overcome challenge of interoperability.
Let’s quickly break down what that means.
The IoT is a collection of physical devices that are embedded with sensors and software that enable them to collect and exchange data. To use a very simple example, the right technology would enable my phone to collect location (GPS) data to indicate I am two kilometres from home and then send a signal to my heating system indicating it should switch on to warm up the house in time for my imminent arrival. This entire system is made up of customisable data sets, so I would be easily able to adjust the location at which my presence is triggered, the temperature of the heating system or if I wanted to limit the process to weekdays only.
It sounds great, and it is great. The problem is that on a larger scale, the different types of these smart systems cannot communicate with one another. At present, the only way to facilitate smooth, integrated functionality between applications is by manually writing code to reconcile their data sets and languages. This process is manageable when only a few systems need to communicate, but it will not serve as a scalable solution as billions more connected devices are brought online over the coming years.
The Internet started quite similarly. With separate networks operating on various frameworks being built by academic institutions and technology companies. Initially there was little pressure for the individual networks to be compatible. When Tim Berners-Lee, founded the W3C in 1994 to bring together various companies to agree on standards to improve the quality of the web, he laid the groundwork for the modern internet as we know it.
Similarly, the IoT needs a framework and standards to build new products and solutions. That is why today I’m excited that KPMG is supporting the launch of Hypercat Australia as a technology standard to support the development of smart cities. The Hypercat Alliance, founded in the UK three years ago, is a not-for-profit organisation that has two main areas of focus: it has created a standard to make IoT data more discoverable and interoperable, and it has brought together a consortium to drive forward interoperable smart city innovation.
In just a few years, Hypercat has already been applied to multi-million dollar smart city projects including London and Bristol, attracted more than 1,000 industry members such as KPMG, Cisco, BT, Symantec, Flexeye and WSP, and gained support in 47 countries
The Australian arm of Hypercat will be the first of its kind internationally. It will be an independent, not-for-profit organisation and will be administered by the Knowledge Economy Institute led by Dr Mike Briers AO, Australia’s first Industry Professor of IoT at the University of Technology Sydney.
It will also underpin the move towards establishing smarter cities in Australia. As a key platform for the roll out of connected technology in our cities, towns and suburbs, Hypercat will help place Australia on the cutting edge of a major technological change.
And beyond the tangible benefits for people whose lives will be more convenient thanks to IoT technology, we have a major opportunity to leverage our experience and expertise to develop new industries and high-tech jobs.
The IoT represents the ability not just to live in smart cities, but to build a smart country.