IoT in 2019: is space the final frontier?

No matter how strong your clickbait immunity, it’s likely that you’ve still come across a number of end-of-year trend predictions feeding through your newsfeed.

Certainly not ones to be too swayed by industry trends ourselves, IoT - at least from our experience within the space - is here to stay into the new year. Sure, 2019 might not be the ‘year of IoT’ that a number of tech publications would have liked us to believe year after year, but hey, at least it’s still a long way from being dead.

Typical of any popularity contest, the past years of praise for internet-augmented technologies, deemed as the future of industry and manufacturing processes (recently termed ‘Industry 4.0’), many are now critiquing IoT’s significance. One revealing study carried out by Cisco mid-last year found that 74% of all companies that start an IoT initiative will fail. Often, company owners will jump on ‘smart’ technology without a specific direction or core understanding as to what specific IoT-enabled solutions they wish to access within their business. Subsequently, projects go over-budget, deployment times run far too long, staff and resources are poorly allocated, quality of data is undefined, and interoperability issues inevitably rear their heads which will then lead to an eventual cancellation. A public archive listing these failed companies and projects is even available as a cautionary tale or two for the wannabe IoT pioneers who mightn’t realise the barriers that halt successful implementation.

While some might fail, others show meaningful promise using the technologies of IoT.  Our engineer and  ME Program mentor  Chris observed this for himself when guiding students through the ins and outs of Raspberry Pi and the exciting problem solving that can be enabled through IoT-enabled devices and a smart design.  A focus on finding practical, real-world problems to apply the IoT in solving was a key component of the short course; a focus that many companies can often lose sight of when trying to incorporate IoT into their services.

While some might fail, others show meaningful promise using the technologies of IoT.
Our engineer and ME Program mentor Chris observed this for himself when guiding students through the ins and outs of Raspberry Pi and the exciting problem solving that can be enabled through IoT-enabled devices and a smart design.

A focus on finding practical, real-world problems to apply the IoT in solving was a key component of the short course; a focus that many companies can often lose sight of when trying to incorporate IoT into their services.

Nevertheless, the statistics show us that start-ups, large-scale business, government, and organisational entities the world over are increasing their adoption of connected devices, and at an exponential rate. On the topic of Industry 4.0, some emerging technological trends do appear to have promise in enabling disruption within advanced manufacturing - half of which we have dipped our toes into for a variety of project prototypes and deliverables. But again, let’s not focus on the flashy platforms and printers; these are the real trends that we’re hoping to see continue to develop into the new year.

Data for the public, by the public

As data security has served to be the omnipresent flavour of the year (was 2018 the year of data privacy scares?), the democratisation of data - or the open access to data by all, freed from gatekeepers - is increasingly becoming standardised practice. It’s this public desire for data transparency which has informed the likes of government policymakers to set a commitment to optimising the use and re-use of public data, hinged on the ‘open by default’ approach to the release of data deemed non-sensitive. On the topic of privacy - a blog post for another year, I assure you - this not-for-profit’s efforts in developing Trustable Technology IoT security star-rating has got us intrigued.

IoT for liveability

No, we’re not talking about you Siri. The liveability that technology providers might try to woo you with as part of their smart home offerings is one thing, but we’re excited about civic liveability. Smart citizens need smart cities to live, work and play in. You needn’t be a member of City of Newcastle Council to have heard the persistent role IoT and other automated technologies intend to play as part of the Smart City agenda. We’ve been working on a number of council and public organisation projects in the pursuit of equipping city, communities and neighbourhoods with the data and control to respond to all aspects of liveability. That includes more efficient government services, but also more delightful, responsive and people-centred living spaces. Our additional two cents: perhaps the term ‘smart city’ might adopt a new catch-cry. Intelligent urbane? Open village? We’ll get back to you on that one.

Cult of connectivity

Before we can even consider our capacity for data transparency, accessibility and usability, an efficient network of connectivity is crucial. Fortunately, this year has shown an impressive shift in opening connectivity, and within our own backyard no less. Crowd-sourced networks such as The Things Network have shown to rapidly expand LoRaWAN coverage, enabling IoT connectivity as part of a global, bottom-up movement. TTN Newcastle and Lake Macquarie alone has shown to kick some significant goals as part of this movement, regarded as the fastest growing community in the country to-date. As local IoT-enthusiasts contribute to liberating the network one gateway at a time, LoRaWAN is also finding some real estate in the realm of deep space. In endeavouring to create ultimate LoRaWAN coverage, Satellite IoT - integrated satellite/LoRaWAN gateways - is working to connect hundreds of sensors in remote corners of the world. Again, Australia is leading the LoRa connectivity revolution as Fleet from Adelaide are leaders in the market for Space Portal gateways.

Looking ahead, perhaps the new year will bring us a new acronym, but in any case, hype or no hype, the Things of the internet feel more tangible than ever. As accessibility and transparency of data evolves, so too does the community-centric, people-relevant quality of IoT.
We’ll hold a toast to that, fellow innovators.

IoT for all in 2019? Make it s(n)ow.

IoT for all in 2019? Make it s(n)ow.