IoT Municipal Uses

IoT In Municipal Uses Overview

Last week we touched upon the uses of IoT as well as some issues following the scene since its inception. Today we will be talking about the personal or "consumer" based applications, and the commercial or municipal applications. So in order to begin, lets define those two categories.

Consumer, or personal as I prefer the term, use of the IoT is mostly a growing portion of IoT devices that are created for customer use, including connected vehicles, home automation, wearable technology, connected health, and appliances with remote monitoring capabilities. Examples of this are smart homes, elder care, wearable technology etc etc.

On the other hand, as commercial and municipal applications we will be referring to the applications of IoT centered around more public domains. IoT in healthcare, public transportation, V2X as well as building automation will fall under this category.

First we will expand on their use, and better seek to understand what it is IoT does in those specific subjects, and then we will discuss some of the issues, more in depth, than last time.

Personal and Municipal Use

A rather fascinating subject, and one that is more akin to ye old science fiction, IoT has seen an increase in applications for our everyday lives.

Smart homes, that allow the owner to remotely access anything from security systems, to lighting and heat, aside from convenience, helps with energy consumption, as the system not only allows someone to immediately make sure that any lights they might have forgotten are effectively turned off, but also come with means of doing so automatically. To add to that, certain companies offer a number of appliances that can be connected through a central system, such as various devices from Apple, allowing for a simple application to exist that allows for easy operation of them all.

One key application of a smart home, as Wikipedia says,  is to provide assistance for those with disabilities and elderly individuals. These home systems use assistive technology to accommodate an owner's specific disabilities. Voice control can assist users with sight and mobility limitations while alert systems can be connected directly to cochlear implants worn by hearing-impaired users. They can also be equipped with additional safety features. These features can include sensors that monitor for medical emergencies such as falls or seizures. Smart home technology applied in this way can provide users with more freedom and a higher quality of life, which admittedly is an undeniably good thing.

The above, combined with a more robust and ever expanding network of IoT in the Medical area, allows for a patient's files to be easily accessible via the common network. In addition, with sensors incorporated into sensitive transplants or implants, can allow patients with heart monitors or chronic medication needs, to be monitored by their guardian, nurse or even an emergency response unit, should the need arise. In the end of the day, you cannot call an ambulance if your fall unconscious, so having the means of alerting someone that you need help when you are unable to is a literal life saver.

Last but not least, we have seen IoT become more and more dominant when it comes to Transportation. The IoT can assist in the integration of communications, control, and information processing across various transportation systems. Application of the IoT extends to all aspects of transportation systems (i.e. the vehicle, the infrastructure, and the driver or user). Dynamic interaction between these components of a transport system enables inter- and intra-vehicular communication,smart traffic control, smart parking, electronic toll collection systems, logistics and fleet management, vehicle control, safety, and road assistance. In Logistics and Fleet Management, for example, an IoT platform can continuously monitor the location and conditions of cargo and assets via wireless sensors and send specific alerts when management exceptions occur (delays, damages, thefts, etc.). This can only be possible with the IoT and its seamless connectivity among devices. Sensors such as GPS, Humidity, and Temperature send data to the IoT platform and then the data is analyzed and then sent to the users. This way, users can track the real-time status of vehicles and can make appropriate decisions. If combined with Machine Learning, then it also helps in reducing traffic accidents by introducing drowsiness alerts to drivers and providing self-driven cars too.

Issues and Concerns

Well the first and possibly major issue when it comes to this area of IoT is, surprisingly enough, storage and security issues.

In order to create a smart...well, anything, you will have to have a truly smart system, that is able to process a -lot- of data and filter, what is essentially, the junk data from the useful data. This needs a lot of storage space, and most companies have solved the issue from incorporating their systems into a cloud based data handling system. This allows for numerous benefits as "the cloud can provide you with space to store a large amount of various biometric data, which play a big role in the world of cybersecurity nowadays. Nevertheless, big centralized systems working with the help of the cloud can also be quite vulnerable due to their robustness, so it’s all a kind of a two-edged sword." according to an article by jaxenter.

Furthermore, another possible issue comes when someone considers the economic and privacy issues IoT can bring. Already there have been some articles mentioning that certain insurance companies are flirting with (if not already incorporating) the idea of a "pay as you go" service. Essentially this would mean that insurance companies might start taking into account smart home data to determine the high or low risk of having someone insured. After all, someone who uses up a lot of water, has more of a chance to run into some water related issue that needs coverage than someone that does not, for example. Unfortunately the article I read this on, requires registration to view fully, and as such I will not post it here.

The implications to that are obvious, IoT gives us the means to free our lives, but at the same time, it allows the companies that handle our data to do with them as the contract we sign permits them to, leading to potential violations of our privacy. Already, in the United States, at least to my knowledge, the practice of paying for car insurance based on your data is almost the standard, and although I agree that paying less or more on car insurance depending on your driving is a novel idea, I cannot help but be a bit more skeptical when it comes to more private habits (like hours spent in the bath for example).

In Conclusion

IoT in the commercial and personal side of our lives is a booming concept and one that, despite the concerns, has more merits than flaws as we speak. From life saving applications for patients, energy consumption and proper driving habits, to a more robust health care and transportation network for us all, IoT truly is the future of our day to day lives.

However, as with all new and novel ideas, I ere on the side of caution, as we may outrun reason as we try to incorporate IoT more and more into our every day lives, and thus willingly sign off aspects of our privacy over to those with the means and intent to exploit them for their own personal gain.

From the technical standpoint however, with a few concerns raised when it comes to storage and security, I am sure that IoT has a bright future ahead.

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