The Internet of Things

When It Rains It Pours

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 13, 2014

The Internet of Things continues to pick up speed. In just the past couple months, and since we came out with our last issue of this magazine, such top-notch communications players as Cisco, GE, Microsoft (News - Alert), and Verizon have revealed interesting details about their work on, and some new collaborations around, IoT.

The Internet of Things was one of the key phrases uttered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (News - Alert) in describing the functionality of Windows 10. This release, he said while speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo, represents the first iteration of a platform that can run on multiple screens and addresses the Internet of Things.

“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise data centers worldwide,” Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s operating systems group, recently blogged. “Some of these devices have 4-inch screens – some have 80-inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all…. We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device. And across this breadth of devices, we are delivering one application platform for our developers.” 

Elsewhere on the IoT frontier, Cisco (News - Alert) said it will leverage and resell Sensity’s Light Sensory Network platform as a foundation for its City Infrastructure Management solution. As a result, Cisco has a common set of sensors, embedded analytics and back-end data structure from which to enable parking applications, traffic management, retail analytics, and security.

And General Electric has joined forces with Verizon (News - Alert) to expand the reach and strength of the Industrial Internet. As a result, GE’s machines and devices will connect to Verizon’s machine-to-machine connectivity and cloud platforms to create a secure wireless communications system for the Industrial Internet. This relates to GE’s Predix value-added services, which include remote monitoring, diagnostics and the ability to resolve maintenance issues virtually anywhere in the world.

“The potential for transforming industries, including rail, aviation, energy and health care — as well as society as we know it — is tremendous, and yet the Internet of Things (IoT) is a nascent, complex and fragmented market,” said Mark Bartolomeo, head of IoT Connected Solutions at Verizon. “Driving adoption requires broadening alliances across the ecosystem. We look forward to using the power of our network and cloud platforms to enhance our long-standing relationship with GE so that together we can create new business models across the Industrial Internet to meet the increasingly complex demands of customers.”

The fact that so many of the world’s leading companies continue to move forward with the Internet of Things is testament of the staying power and broad applications for M2M technology. And the more I read and watch the mainstream news, the more I think now could not be a better time for M2M.

Just the other week NBC Nightly News ran a piece about the danger of underground gas pipes that carry natural gas to homes. Some of these pipes, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, are around 100 years old, according to the report, and at rate of several times a week they begin to leak, sometimes with tragic results.

At least 135 people have died in gas line explosions in this country. Explosions have happened in Allentown, Penn., Brentwood, Long Island, New York City, and even in California. Replacing these pipes could take up to 50 years to replace, according to the report. In the meantime, if this hasn’t already happened, it would seem that these pipes could be fitted with sensors to send alerts when leakage occurs.

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, recently commented: “It has been 21 years since the last significant boost was made to the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The last investment hike – a 4.3 cent per gallon increase to the gas tax – went into effect Oct. 1, 1993. In the 21 years since the gas tax was last raised, bridges have continued to collapse and numerous roads have crumbled. The American Society of Engineers has ranked the U.S. transportation system at nearly failing. Thirty percent of America’s bridges have exceeded their 50-year design life, and bad roads contribute to a third of all traffic fatalities.”

With so much of our nation’s infrastructure now nearing end of life, M2M solutions could potentially help avoid disasters on a number of fronts. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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