Internet of things is the next breakthrough technology making it very important to know for your IAS Coaching. The article provides a summary of VIF India Article.
A paradigm called “Internet of Things” or IoT is a concept where objects, animate and inanimate, become part of the Internet; each with a unique identity on the network, is accessible as any computer today is, and whose position and state is known and tracked all the time. In short, there is now a model where the real-world objects can participate as digital entities and as peers in a vastly connected network of networks, which includes the internet.
How does it work?
- The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in a 2005 report said that IoT will “connect the objects with sense and intelligence, both”.
- There are four dimensions described in this report: identifying by tags; sensing and feeling through networked-sensors; embedding ‘things’ into systems and leveraging nano-technology for shrinking things.
- The term “things” applies to vast instances of physical objects in the IoT concept and includes endpoints like computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and appliances like those at home and in the office, each having a sensor interface.
- Through a gateway, which is essentially an aggregator, these ‘things’ connect to the internet and provide data from the sensed environment to the network and onward to the IoT processors which make sense out of the vast amount of data collected. These processors take intelligent decisions and help provide high quality services to users.
IoT Applications: A Developing Economy View –
Following are some of the applications which have wide social impact –
- Monitoring and tracking the environment is a critical IoT application. Through collection of temperature and humidity parameters nationwide, it provides a compelling weather picture to citizens.
- On the electrical energy front, through use of smart energy meters and a connected energy platform, energy is balanced between demand and supply points and ensures that no energy is wasted and users are encouraged to save energy. ‘Optimised electricity’ consumption can potentially improve consumption-patterns and communicate the consumption of energy in households, office buildings and data centres allow users to tweak or load balance their consumption to off-peak times with potentially lower costs.
- Given the impact of climate change, and increasing cases of nature’s fury and disasters, by means of sensors located in notified and disaster prone areas, and through simulation, disaster management IoT applications can reasonably model and predict occurrences of landslides and avalanches for citizens in those areas to take proactive actions.
- To advance the cause of citizens’ health and well-being through sensors and health equipment connected in an IoT network, monitoring of patient-parameters help a limited number of doctors and paramedics to serve a larger pool of patients. Where there are large numbers of elderly population in a special-care home, wellness, mobility and monitoring of the geriatric is possible. This is relevant as we see demographic change with rising numbers of aged people.
- Agriculture and food security is key to a nation’s progress. This is the era of drones. Imagine this scene: A farmer enclosed in a glass cabin is monitoring quadcopters, drones and driverless tractors which are tasked to provide detailed readings of soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, and measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual vegetable or fruit.
This is ‘precision farming’ where with lesser and lesser resources you use more and more farm produce. Pesticides are a strict ‘NO’ and so are antibiotics. Governments will be able to figure out quantitatively and respond to issues affecting food security, such as famines and droughts, floods and large-scale infestation of pests. Governments can intervene by setting up agriculture command-centres which process and fuse remotely sensed parameters with embedded sensors and leverage public networks to notify and alert farmers through SMSs that he needs to take certain measures to obviate damage and loss to crops.
- One of the largest contributors to the national economy is manufacturing. Of all the points in an operational value chain that IoT can make a difference, including investments in IoT hardware—from sensors inserted in manufacturing equipment and products to electronically items with tags in the extended supply chain—the major gain comes when IoT data helps setup up machine learning protocols and help take decisions in optimising operations. Improvement of workflows and shift reorganisation dynamically are two possibilities. Also, sensor data used to predict when equipment needs repair can reduce cost of maintenance by half and reduce an equipment downtime in equal measure. Sensors measuring stock levels now help ‘just-in-time’ supply chains and autonomous on-the-shop-floor vehicles raise productivity significantly. Due to its ability to precisely and in near-real-time monitor machines, safety also gets a major fillip in an IoT controlled shop floor.
- Water scarcity is now real. With the importance of water for both human and economic development in societies and its acute scarcity in many places, networks of water-sensitive sensors, connected together with the appropriate simulation workflows can help monitor water interventions such as watershed management and catchment area management.
- Transportation management is another area of immense value where IoT can have a major and positive impact. Monitoring of road, rail and waterway transportation routes as well as channels can be implemented through a network of sensors providing traffic information, visibility into emergent bottlenecks and even for revenue generation from tolled usage.
- One of the largest investments by Central and State Governments, which began a few years ago, was in the Smart Cities programmes. We know that there is a massive change in demographics with a signal shift in population from villages to cities. This shift is accompanied by increased stress on existing infrastructure and services, and through Smart Cities initiatives, we expect to see several areas where IoT will provide the foundations for emerging service frameworks.
- In e-governance, at the city level, IoT will significantly deliver value in enhancing citizen experiences and quality of administration in crowd monitoring, video surveillance of roads and traffic management, water management, smart parking, public transportation management, smart street lighting, leveraging tolls on roads, air quality management, waste management, grid distribution and transmission management, and in providing smart justice through IoT connected courts and prisons. At the central level of governance, areas of IoT value creation and addition include fast-tracking of mission oriented central government initiatives like the National Disaster Management, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, mission for climate resilient agriculture, universalisation of elementary education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Solar Mission, Rural Health Mission and Total Sanitation Mission, to name a few.
Organisation Restructuring –
- The role of the traditional IT Department will change. They will need to become more of a specialist team enabling vertical departments and business units to become operationally ‘digital’ and make IoT an embedded entity in all their assets, inventories, and operations.
- So we see two technologies at play – one, the traditional IT which is around provision of computers, applications and networks and two, the core business and operational technologies which will now have IoT in their respective value chains.
- In a nutshell, IT and IoT are set to converge to provide a unified management model. The leaders have a challenge to get all their teams aligned and work outside their present silos.
The prospect of implementing IoT in organisations should prompt even greater concern about cyber security as each of the objects becomes a potential entry point for cyber criminals, and the damage from a hack can be possibly life threatening—for example, an oxygen plant in a hospital running rogue with polluting gases or a disrupted oil pipeline running at twice the approved pressure.
Multi-Dimensional security is the way to go for a holistic security cover. Three levels of the IoT system are at play here – devices and sensors, networks and applications. Each of them have to be secure while at a holistic and integral level, the entire system across all three planes have to be secure.
The following are the minimum essentials –
- Devices and chip manufacturers aligned to the lower level of the IoT need to ensure that security is integral to the device and approaches like Manufacturers Usage Description (MUD) are adopted.
- Original equipment Manufacturers (OEM) need to apply network and transport-layer security designs to reinforce the application layer. Beyond that, they can build on their hardware security design features to offer an integrated solution.
- Application developers need to leverage their control of Application Program Interfaces (API) and user interfaces to implement security in their architectures.
Lack of Standards –
An area of concern is the lack of standards in IoT and IoT security. It is crucial that leading OEMs and industry leaders come together with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and other stake holders to establish IoT security standards for their industry. Standardisation of technologies is important, as it will lead to better interoperability, and thus lowering the costs.
IoT Competencies and Skills –
Given that IoT is a transformative paradigm with massive retooling of human skills and capabilities, knowledge of IoT operations, security-specific knowledge and relevant certifications will become a standard requirement for employees both on the IT and IoT parts of the organisation. IOT specialists must have a grasp of both sensor and device architectures as well as networks and applications.
Care to protect the user’s right to privacy and trust in the IoT is crucial. There is a need to follow the principles of informed consent, data confidentiality and data security. The issue here is that access is now not sought by human entities but by objects and appliances and to ring-fence authorised areas of the IoT system is a challenge.
Given the possibilities of massive positive impact that IoT can bring into areas of agriculture, energy, transportation and manufacturing, with radical innovation in the immediate future, we are set to see industry and the government investing to harness the benefits. This calls for a larger public and civic society discourse of the technology, its potential benefits, and related issues and challenges. India needs to take a leadership role in this challenge, particularly in terms of alignment of IoT play in its missions of “Skill India” and “Make in India”.
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