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The Connected World of IoT
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Since the technology has become so cheap and small in its form factor, what we are seeing is a trend that things from watches to shoes, to benches and trees, are becoming interconnected through the internet.

Anything that needs to communicate with the internet needs to have at least one IP (internet Protocol) address. IP specifies the technical format of packets and the addressing scheme for computers to communicate over the internet.

For example, a smartwatch has multiple IP addresses, and similarly are the PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.

There are currently two version of IP — IPv4 (version four) and a new version called IPv6 (version six).

In November 2012, the world consumed all the publicly available IP addresses through IPv4. In IPv6, the world can assign an IP address to every grain of sand and to every star on the planet.

In the past, internet has been about people and devices. The future is going to be things getting connected.

“In the past, we did not have small devices with such capabilities (in a minuscule chip) that has WiFi, Bluetooth, sensors to control a light or door and NFC connectives,” said Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager and Managing Director of Cisco UAE.

IoT is the process of connecting devices through the internet and the term “internet of Everything” (IoE) is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. The benefit of IoE is derived from the compound impact of connecting people, process, data, and things, and from the value this increased connectedness creates as “everything” comes online. In this respect, IoE provides a clear answer to the question of future sources of value and IoT is a subset of IoE.

“Internet is the one technology that has the potential to rectify many of the challenges we face. Already, the internet, which has gone through several stages in its relatively short lifespan, has benefited many individuals, businesses, and countries by improving education through the democratisation of information, allowing for economic growth through electronic commerce, and improving business innovation by enabling greater collaboration,” Dabboussi said.

With IoT, devices typically gather data and stream it over the internet to a central source, where it is analysed and processed.

Dabboussi said that it would be difficult for a utility company like Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) to deploy smart meters across Dubai five years ago. Now, they have smart meters and have brought immense efficiency to the department.

It [a smart meter] uploads the unit consumption to Dewa automatically by connecting to the internet and communicating that data back. Now, instead of reading the metre once a month, they [Dewa] can read it every minute.

“As we bring more IoT into the home and monitor every breaker, power outlets and appliances, Dewa can tell the user of how much the washing machine is consuming versus how much the lights are consuming versus how much water is used for toilet flushing or taking a bath,” he said.

“We are living in a world full of waste. We are unaware of how much waste we consume every day in our life. For example, we use our car for less than 10 per cent of the time and the rest of the time, it is being parked.”

Many of us are using wearable bands to monitor our health. In the past, it was not available.

Take that and move into the next level by connecting together and let them communicate with each other.

Then, your smart running shoes will communicate with your wearable device and let the user know that he should run more today as he hasn’t exercised enough during the past two days.

Taking that to the next level, they will start communicating with your smart spoons and smart plates by letting the user know that he shouldn’t be eating the heavy “biryani” today and instead go for salads.

“In the next few years, we will be seeing more devices talking to each other to bring additional intelligence to the user,” Dabboussi said.

The pace of turning parking into smart parking in Dubai has increased exponentially in the past 12 months and everyone wants a smart parking.

He said that the scale and pace of deploying IoT has increased exponentially in the past 24 months and that is driven by the efficient need for resources, the need to operate the business in a much more intelligent way, collect and analyse the data in real time.

“In the future, decisions are going to be made for a user through the intelligence analytics of data and that data have to be collected through the sensors and the devices that are spread around us. Data is the gold mine and it is ubiquitous and no longer a differentiator,” he said.

In 2013, things that are still not connected to the internet stood at 99.25 per cent, but the figure fell to 99.07 per cent in 2014 and to 98.85 per cent in 2015.

Looking to the future, Cisco predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020, that is 6.58 connected devices per person by 2020 compared to 3.47 connected devices per person in 2015. During that period, the global population is expected to be 7.6 billion compared to 7.2 billion in 2015.

“When we crossed the threshold of connecting more objects than people to the internet, a huge window of opportunity opened for the creation of applications in the areas of automation, sensing, and machine-to-machine communication. In fact, the possibilities are almost endless, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact of today,” he said.

IoT opens doors to lot opportunities but also to challenges.

Dabboussi said that security and privacy are the two main “complexities” surrounding the IoT. “If the devices are not secured and get compromised, big things can happen,” he said.

The big things are somebody unlocking the door when the owner is not inside or somebody collecting the data about users’ financial or health.

“But when we started e-commerce we had the same challenge about security and privacy, and that same thing is happening to IoT. I think it is a bit of paranoid now. The transformation of data into information is important because it will allow us to make faster, more intelligent decisions in a more effective way,” he said