Ridgian’s BI Team’s March article has been written by Jon Lunn, Senior BI Consultant who investigates the way in which the global generation of data has increased of recent years as a result of innovate technologies and how even household gadgets now have the potential to produce large amounts of data. Moreover, Jon reflects on how this will impact upon the application of Business Intelligence.
Things tend to have many names, my name is Jon, my wife calls me a nickname I’m too embarrassed to share, my daughter will call me dada, daddy, dad. Another assigned with many names is the Internet or the World Wide Web, Information Super Highway, Interweb, Online, Dial-up, Narrowband, Broadband, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Internet of Things and onwards.
I’m going to take a guess that this year – 2014 – there will be more discussion on the concept of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). It seems to be gathering pace, but as with most early concepts people seem to be talking about it, but we’re not sure of what it actually is, or how it will benefit individuals, companies, consumers and producers.
What is the IoT? In fairly basic terms, connecting everything to be a data gathering and information producing device. But for what ends, would you get a friend request from a bridge that you use regularly?
Kevin Aston’s paper on the subject http://kevinjashton.com/ provides one of the best definitions of IoT I’ve came across;
“To track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”
I’m going to assume this may cause some issues due to the volume of items that may need to connect to the internet. Using the example of my own house, I have a total of 9 connected items:
• 1 Desktop PC
• 1 Laptop
• 1 IPad
• 2 Smartphones
• Wi-Fi enabled TV
• Wi-Fi enabled Blue Ray player
• 2 Raspberry Pi’s
With the some of the concepts of the IoT, I may in the future add a further 28 items
• 1 fridge
• 1 cooker
• 1 washing machine
• 1 tumble dryer
• 1 Electric Smart Meter
• 1 Gas Smart Meter
• 20 light bulbs
• 2 Cars
Giving a total of 37 data gathering/information producing items in my home. You may see that most of the new items are light bulbs. If you haven’t already seen it check out the LIFX light bulb, Wi-Fi enabled, with LED’s as illumination, you also get a phone app, so you can choose the output colour to fit your room design, colour scheme and even your mood with a twist of a virtual dial. At the moment they are about £20 per bulb, but as the economies of scale kick in they will drop in price to something reasonable.
Why have a Wi-Fi light blub? Image your connected oven, sending a signal to the lights in your house, which then detect which room you are in, and change colour to let you know the chicken is ready. You only cooked the chicken as your fridge indicated that it was nearly at its use by date, and suggested a recipe based on the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards. By the way your online shopping has been updated with recommendations that those items that have been used need replacing.
The amount of data that the IoT will produce will be staggering in terms of the current data flow and the historic data, which will be used to drive analysis of patterns to improve efficiency. However at some point the machines will take over, not in a Terminator style nuclear Armageddon (fingers crossed!), but in the day to day of running things. For example, network connected traffic lights, cameras and self-drive cars. It will automatically determine traffic volumes and route traffic more effectively and efficiency than humans ever could. We will even see the start of ‘Emergent Behaviour’, patterns arising out of complex systems. Engineers at one major Cloud based technology company, already see this in there autonomous server load balancer, which covers their data centres across the world, and controls many thousands of servers. In one recent article they admitted even they are not quite sure why it makes some decisions to do things, it just works nicely, which is the aim of many a developer, myself included.
However there is a danger as recent news reports have noted that smart TVs, and even a smart refrigerator have been use to create e-mail spam, as vendors have pushed out smart appliances without attempts to make them secure. So broad up take of the IoT will have to be measured in the terms of data volume, connections and security.
Whatever the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes, one thing is fairly certain that volumes of data will increase and the human capacity to store and understand such volumes will be increasingly stretched. So timely, accurate, smart intelligence and business intelligence will be further demanded.