Broad use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and systems to support every day civil and business functions can reduce waste and improve speed and efficiency, while large-scale uses, such as infrastructure and utility use monitoring and asset management can provide significant benefits to society and improve quality of life, says IoT Industry Council of South Africa (Iotic) chairperson Roger Hislop.
“IoT is more than the sum of its interconnected parts. It provides better control and improves management of businesses and municipalities and enables users to track where things are, how they are being used and what is happening around them."
The technology has multiple applications, is cheap and easy to implement, and does not need constant micro-management once installed. The information gathered by the sensors and devices can be used for analytics and insights.
The data can be sent via a mobile device on any application and can then be captured in a dashboard to fine-tune processes, services and results, he says.
Smart meters provide minute-by-minute electricity or water readings and can also be used to notify individuals if there is a leak on their property, which will save money and water. Smart meters can also help people to better manage their usage and provides granular control over an expense for customers and industries.
Similarly, a temperature sensor can be installed into air vents to monitor air-conditioning, to ensure that the freezer in a retail outlet is optimised correctly and to keep temperatures tightly controlled for the transportation of certain goods.
"IoT can also be used to track items and individuals, including to monitor vulnerable people's health and safety, such as the elderly and children. It is a technology that improves visibility into operations and processes that helps to manage them better. This technology has been developed to enhance people’s lives by helping them become more effective," says Hislop.
An IoT device is usually small, battery-powered and uses the Internet to communicate with smart systems, providing real-time, real-world information that is valuable and relevant.
These tools allow users to switch devices on and off remotely, minimise waste including wasted time, stock, resources and opportunities.
"With the right IoT technology in place, organisations of all sizes can streamline processes and systems to ensure optimal use of space, time and resources," he adds.
The technology has been available for the past 20 years, but is now cheaper and more accessible, which means that there is more scope for new use cases and innovation.
This shift in price has ignited adoption and allows business and government to leverage IoT to benefit the country. This is particularly relevant for businesses and municipalities as IoT can help them to function more effectively, he says.
"IoT is cheaper, faster and more readily available for inventive implementations than ever before. Its application should become a priority for government and business because it can deliver immediate benefits at scale to communities across the country," Hislop concludes.