Business and consumer attention is now focused on the latest technology trend – the Internet of Things (IoT). The potential of IoT is huge, as no one wants to be left out of things, especially when so many new products and technologies are emerging on the market.
Analysts predict that the number of things that will be connected by 2020 is expanding. They estimate having more connected devices than people! Currently, they envisage 24 to 200 billion gadgets that would benefit the economy by between $2 and $9 trillion!
The phrase “IoT” is currently used to describe a variety of technological advances, progress in design, manufacture and services and many more. Due to such a variety in terminology, defining IoT can be confusing.
So, what does “a thing” and IoT in general, stand for?
To clarify, the “thing” is any data from a machine or technology. It
can be from smart homes, Fitbits or electricity meters. All of these objects are part of a global network, interconnected and bring benefit to society without human intervention and therefore, are considered “smart”.
On 4th May, 2017, Innovation Forum (IF) Manchester organised an event to reveal what the connection between IoT and healthcare, energy and life sciences brings to society and why we should care about it?
Daniel Moreno, President of IF Manchester opened the evening by introducing IF to the public and discussing the vision and opportunities IF holds for collaborators.
According to Tacis Gavoyannis, Head of Smart Cities and IoT at ATKearney, the IoT opportunity is estimated to be$14.6 trillion by 2030 and will impact close to 6% of the global economy. “It is a huge potential for small and large organisations. Hybrids of new organisations using the larger ones, getting to scale and creating new jobs”. And this is not surprising as IoT will require and offer opportunities to engage with multiple capabilities. There are four main areas included: services (drone deliveries, energy usage), sensors (smart meters, wearables), infrastructure and platforms (data aggregation and storage) and applications (data analysis).
Although a lot of projects currently focus on innovation, much work still needs to be done. Compared to other cities, Manchester is a leader in combining and linking different sectors with each other: transport to energy, energy to health, and health to wearables.
Tacis believes that organisations like IF would be helpful for the IoT industry because “…a lot comes out from the Universities and small companies and also larger organisations, like ATKearney, which help SMEs with IP. So, we need to work more collaboratively than we have done in the last 20 years.” Indeed, collaboration is the key for innovation and this is the reason why IF builds bridges between academia, the private sector and policy makers.
Steve Gardner, CEO from Row Analytics Ltd specializes in informatics and has a strong track record of building world-class companies, teams and products mainly for the life science industry. Steve believes that currently, we have the largest amount of data we ever had, which spans from the full genetic profile of a patient to all prescription histories. However, the problem arises when a medical professional has to “translate” this data to a patient and make a meaningful conclusion in the context of an individual, rather than a specific disease. Thus, the future lies in improving developmental tools that can be used in and outside of clinical settings: to analyse this data which will eventually support users in staying well by improving their diet and lifestyle. Steve also supports the idea that IoT contributes to advanced data analytics, data collection and real-time data.
Nick Chrissos, Head of Innovation Tech for Cisco UK and the Project Director for CityVerve, highlighted the importance of IoT and Cisco involvement in the Manchester project. “Cisco is the industrial partner, the leading industrial partner. We are running it. We are the Tech Director for the project and the Cisco CREATE team is managing the project. With the leadership of Manchester City councils, but Cisco is in the middle of delivering it and we are very proud to be partners in this project”.
We asked Nick whether there is a point, at which making the city smarter is making people ignorant. According to the leader, smart cities are about improving lives of people: making these better and easier. Cisco has considered the possibility of citizens becoming spoilt without realizing, how to operate light switches or thermostats in non-smart homes. However, Nick believes that in reality, this technology will become more ubiquitous and its users will be more in tune with the future.
After very thought-provoking presentations, Dr. Samir Khan, Consultant and Senior Analyst at New Medicine Partners, moderated a very “hot” panel discussion. Apart from the keynote speakers, the panel involved key experts from various fields. Paul Brodrick, the Head of Connected Communities at Siemens discussed the challenges that IoT holds, such as cyber security and co-creation of innovative projects with SMEs and cities. Professor Peter Ogrodnik, a Co-Founder of Metaphysis LLP, added that another complication of IoT is low integrity and low fidelity data. He also believes that we need to ensure not to create “…second-class citizens because they do not choose to or they cannot be in the smart environment”. And this is of paramount importance, especially for the connection between the older generation and technology.
IoT has also an impact on healthcare. The presence of SMEs’ and their products on the Asian market is of pivotal importance for globalization. Dr. Jameel Zayed, Director of Sinan Compass Ltd which specializes in UK-EU-Chinese services, bringing niche hi-tech products to the mass market was one of the panellists at the event. Jameel highlighted the importance of IoT in the international trade and discussed the significance of inter-cultural understanding for success in the market.
Finally, an architect and urban designer, Professor Tom Jeffries, Head of Manchester School of Architecture, discussed the variation in the current occupation density in the UK, how this affects the housing landscape and what influence IoT has on modern architecture.
After a stimulating discussion and answering challenging questions from the audience, our speakers concluded that “data is the new oil” and the IoT take- home message is: “people talking to each other in a meaningful way”.
This was a successful conference, which finished with a lively networking event with great food and wine, provided by sponsors. The diverse audience and professionals from a variety of fields found common topics. IoT was not only connecting people, but aiming to make our lives better, easier and healthier!
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