Ottawa is getting smarter, at least in the technical sense. The Internet of Things, which is to say the connectivity between devices in everything from wearables that measure heart rates to cars that self-assess, is going to be big.
“The Internet of Things will allow us to see our world and to make our world smarter. It will transform the way we live,” Mohamed Ibnkahla told those gathered for his appointment to the new Research Chair in Sensor Technology for the Internet of Thing at Carleton University.
This is another in the long string of IoT focused investment of human capital and, well, regular capital. IoT is taking over everything from energy consumption and water control to garbage collection and snow removal, he said.
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Ibnkahla went so far as to say that the “whole concept of city governments … will completely change with the Internet of Things.”
Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman, who partnered with Carleton in the announcement of this new chair, says, “We may already think we live in a hyperconnected world, but one per cent of the things that can be connected are connected.”
That means there is plenty of room for growth. A recent Cisco study determined the IoT will drive $14.3 trillion of net value globally over the next decade with $400 billion of that coming in Canada alone.
“The Internet of Things has the opportunity to transform every single industry, every business, every city and every country,” Wightman said. “The path to digitization is hugely reliant on research and innovation, precisely the type of research and innovation that (Dr. Ibnkahla) is doing. Canada has an opportunity to lead and take a key role in digital disruption and creating a thriving environment that will benefit all Canadians.”
IoT dominance is coming. The choices are to be prepared or get out of the way.
James Maynard, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Wavefront, is dedicated to accelerating Canada’s wireless innovation. The institution works with more than 30 companies and its mandate is to grow Canada by $400 million in GDP, 6,000 in new jobs and a 150 new companies in the first five years. They’re on pace to achieve that.
“In the last five years, there’s been a tremendous shift in the price performance and availability in technology, to the point now where it’s almost free,” says Maynard. “The major shift with the Internet of Things, is the shift in the role of IT in enterprise. This is the first time where I’ve seen technology platforms have become offensive strategic weapons for businesses to grow.”
Maynard says if you’re still trying to figure out how to get online and mobile, you’re two years behind.
“Mobile devices have overtaken traditional web terminals. The mobile user is king and the next thing is to connect them to their world.”
IoT is part of the “intellectual insight” that helps businesses grow, streamline and modernize.
“It’s really the next phase of bigger integrated platform of cloud, data analytics, big data and mobility,” says Maynard. “We need to have a sense of urgency. Every sector of the economy is going to be disrupted by this … new connected phenomena that connects people, processes and machines. Don’t think it’s not going to happen to you. This is a conversation that Canadian business needs to have that they’re not having.”
UNDERSTANDING THE INTERNET OF THINGS
It’s been around for just about 30 years, and used to be called machine-to-machine communication. And the long and short of it is IoT is here to save you “million and millions of dollars” if used right, says Alan Swain, VP at Wavefront.
He mentions self-reporting analytics that will tell you when something needs servicing versus having an arbitrary service date is a great way for companies to shave operation costs with needless check-ups.
Another area is health. The newly opened Humber River Hospital, for instance, is the first fully digitally integrated hospital in North America.
Which is to say IoT isn’t risk free. Swain warns of security threats from hackers getting into, say, a self-updating pacemaker and futzing with it, but the best way to ward of those worries is to be prepared.