The Future of IoT
The “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to the practice of connecting real-world devices to the internet in order to gather information about such objects. Many folks have the misconception that it started happening all of a sudden. Over the course of many years, a number of companies have been focusing their efforts on enhancing it in some way.
The Internet of Things value chain is composed of several components, including devices, gateways, network servers, application servers, and networks. There are public, private, and even satellite network options available. Additionally, there is the option of joining a community network or a hybrid network, both of which enable you to transfer your devices freely between networks without losing their tracking capabilities.
Over the course of the last twenty years, there has been unwavering progress. On the market, you can now find silicon chips with integrated LoRa that also include a strong central processing unit and a LoRa front-end. These chips may also be purchased. Connectivity is essential for the cloud and all of its associated ecosystems.
In this episode of “The Future Of” Jeff is joined by Donna Moore, CEO and Chairwoman of LoRa Alliance, Reg Orton Product Development Lead at Fresh Consulting and Rob Tiffany Chief Vision Officer CVO Sustainable Logix.
Reg: By adding these interventions and by adding in some development, then you can start to make changes that are really impacting people’s livelihoods and people’s lives. I’m excited about this increased connectivity that’s happening not just in people’s homes in America but around the world as well.
Jeff Dance: Welcome to The Future Of, a podcast by Fresh Consulting where we discuss and learn about the future of different industries, markets, and technology verticals. Together, we’ll chat with leaders and experts in the field and discuss how we can shape the future human experience. I’m your host, Jeff Dance.
In this episode of The Future Of IoT, we’re joined by Donna Moore, CEO and Chairwoman of LoRa Alliance, and Reg Orton, Product Development Lead at Fresh Consulting, to explore the future of IoT. Welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you on this episode focused on the future of IoT.
Given how big IoT has become, I think we have billions and billions, 12 billion devices now or more connected to the internet. It’s exciting to have two leaders who have been involved in both projects, products, and standards that cover the world. For those that don’t know you, if we could get some quick insights into your experience with IoT and a bit more about your journey. Donna, if we can start with you, can you tell the listeners about yourself?
Donna Moore: I’ve been in the standards world for quite a few years, maybe 10, 15 years, and I really, really believe in standards in terms of making it easier for consumers and being able to adapt and grow but I started my career in healthcare. Many people don’t know that.
I actually was a registered nurse and moved into healthcare and then went on the operation side and became a COO of a very large healthcare company and wanted to get into technology to bring it back to healthcare but I loved it so much I ended up staying.
The crazy thing is, it’s a full circle. With LoRaWAN right now and in particular, the types of deployments, it really is about sustainable IoT, improving quality of lives, impacting business’s bottom lines, which is exactly my background from operations and healthcare. It’s come full circle.
Jeff: Currently, you’re the CEO and Chairwoman at the LoRa Alliance. Tell us a little bit more about the LoRa Alliance.
Donna: The LoRa Alliance is 7 years old and it is an open standard. We do three key things, which is develop and maintain the LoRaWAN standard, which is a low power wide area networking standard. We market this standard, and we have a certification program for devices. Those are really our pillars of what we do and drive the adoption in the market.
Jeff: I also noticed that, for 10 years, you were the executive director and on the board of the Digital Living Network Alliance, which was also an international alliance around standards, tools, and certification of IoT. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Donna: That was interesting because, back then, we were doing home networking. We were the first group that was really around connecting devices in the home. Back then, a big task was really educating consumers about getting their network set up or how to connect devices. It’s crazy.
Now, you’ve got the home market that has so many standards and it’s crazy about all the different technologies that are happening in the home. Back then, it wasn’t. We had a really successful run. We had over 4 billion certified devices in the market and it’s still used today, primarily in automotive. They’re doing connected cars and with a lot of other products that are in the home.
The LoRaWAN World Expo is an international event. It’s a two-day event in Paris for LoRaWAN and it’s July 6 and 7. We’re bringing together all the industry thought leaders and experts around IoT, specifically LoRaWAN.
We have ESG tracks, we have panels with smart cities and agriculture, explaining how to develop LoRaWAN, how to drive your business.
We have very strong technical tracks, certification of device tracks, with a lot of vendors really demonstrating the types of devices and solutions that are out there around LoRaWAN. If anyone’s at all doing anything in IoT, highly recommend going to the lora-alliance.org website and check into the event in Paris.
Jeff: Excited to learn from you. Reg, can you tell the audience a little bit more about yourself?
Reg Orton: Sure. As you introduced myself, I’m the Product Development Lead here at Fresh, and my background, I’m an engineer, product designer by training and by experience.
Reg: I spent about 10 years designing medical devices and diagnostics. Then took a pretty big departure about eight, nine years ago, and started working in telecoms, and specifically, telecoms for emerging markets, where I started a company called Brick that was designed to connect the next billion people. As part of that, wasn’t just connecting the people, was connecting things and enabling livelihoods through using connected hardware.
I spent, like I said, almost 10 years doing that, deploying hardware across the emerging markets. Now here at Fresh developing those products and taking them to the next level.
Jeff: Curious about the experience you had. As I understand, you spent a lot of time in Africa and South America as well. Curious about the experiences you had where you watch people get connected that hadn’t been connected before. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Reg: Yes, it’s an amazing thing. Really, if you think about what a next-generational economy looks like, or how to enable an economy, a growing economy, you need two things: you need power and you need connectivity. Those things enable industry to grow and improve and enable GDP and growth and all that great stuff.
What’s interesting over the last 10 years is watching IoT and watching it come into these emerging markets, and enable new businesses that I would never have thought of before. Things like asset management, where you can start to– Groups like M-Kopa that have gone out and built IoT-controlled lighting so that you can then provide lights to people that couldn’t afford them before, and now offer a pay-as-you-go service.
I think they now have over 2 million customers across the continent, that honestly would not have that ability if it wasn’t for these tools like IoT and LoRa. Yes, just amazing, amazing stuff going on.
Jeff: Good stuff. What is really IoT? When did it really start? Donna, can you give us a little bit of a history? I know it’s pretty basic, but for some folks, this is still maybe quite haven’t grasped all that it is.
Donna: IoT really started–it’s an internet of things. It’s connecting things to the internet to provide data. That’s IoT. It’s interesting, it is here, it’s now, and a lot of people think it just happened overnight. It didn’t. It’s been evolving for years, all the work behind the scenes, and it feels like, nothing, nothing, nothing, then all of a sudden, it’s here.
Many companies have been working on the development of their devices. To put out IoT, it takes a village, I will say that, and the value chain consists of devices, gateways to take the data from the devices, network servers, application servers, networks themselves. There’s all types of networks, particularly with LoRaWAN, there’s public networks, private networks, satellite networks.
We now have community networks, if anyone’s heard of Helium, and then hybrid where you can run devices, like Reg said for tracking between networks. It’s really a matter of collecting information from things. It’s a wireless battery-operated device, it lasts around 10 years, depending on the use case. It’s collecting the data, networking the data, and bringing it back to a dashboard that provides real insights.
Again, there’s devices and actuators. It’s not even just looking at the data and then I have to do something, you can set up alarms and alerts, you can set up the actuator. Once there is a gas leak, it automatically turns off the gas. It’s an incredible, incredible technology for the world. It really helps improve lives, safety, I could go on and on.
It really helps the planet with our resources, water conservation, air quality, increasing food around the world. Again, there’s just so much that it does in terms of improving lives. From a performance standpoint, because increased performance equals increased profits, the ability for LoRaWAN to improve operations, both from an efficiency and effective standpoint, rules dollars right to the bottom line. That’s IoT in a nutshell.
Jeff: Reg, what are your thoughts on the current landscape where we are today with IoT?
Reg: 20 years ago, I was working on something that wasn’t even called IoT. It was looking at how you can connect medical devices to the Internet, that was relatively nascent at that point of time compared to what it is now, and trying to improve compliance. How do you track medical device used to make sure that patients are doing the things they need to do to get themselves healthier? It was hard work. We were having to build circuits from scratch and build servers from scratch, instead of this entire ecosystem that didn’t exist. You could progress through the timeline over the last 20 years, and now you’re getting to the point that you can buy Silicon chips off the shelf now with embedded LoRaWAN. I think I saw one just came on the market a week ago that has a really high-power processor plus a LoRa front end, plus a connection to the cloud and all the ecosystem around it.
You mentioned Helium, where, now, we can just take an IoT device, throw it out into the open, and it’ll connect to any number of backhoe hotspots anywhere around the world. It’s becoming so accessible, and every device or every industry is under seed utility in that it’s growing exponentially.
Jeff: In addition to the conversation we had with our guests on today’s episode, we asked another expert to provide their insights on the future.
Rob Tiffany: Hi, my name’s Rob Tiffany. I got my start with the internet of things back in the ’90s, monitoring vending machines, tracking inventory, things like that. Today, I’m leading a company called Sustainable Logics where I’m using digital twin and industrial IoT technology, not for commercial purposes, but to tackle the biggest challenges in society today focused on those 17 sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations to tackle things like hunger and poverty and climate issues, water, things like that.
What are aspects of IoT that are open to innovation? I think some of the biggest innovations right now, on the data side, once you’ve captured that telemetry data from your IoT endpoints is around a technology concept called digital twins. That’s basically modeling a physical asset entity or process digitally as a digital representation of that.
That’s a great way to understand and apply analytics to things that are in the real world. Industrial digital twins are something I’ve seen for years in the manufacturing space. A lot of that grew from manufacturing and from NASA, but I’d say, lately, here in 2022, I see the words digital twin almost every day out there in the media. I know that technology is going mainstream and it’s really innovative. It’s a great way to wrap your head around all those things that you’re monitoring.
Jeff: I want to talk more about, you guys have a common thread of healthcare background and this notion of saving lives. I want to dive into that a little bit in the future as we think about all the possibilities because that’s one of the biggest. If we can stay here in the present a little bit, Reg, for you, we’ve heard a lot about 5G over the last few years. Many of us have 5G capable phones now, how is that a paradigm change for IoT? How does that affect IoT?
Reg: 5G is an interesting protocol and interesting set of standards that really augments a lot of the existing networks that are around. 5G starts to implement some ideas around-–currently, with 4G you’re limited by the number of connections you can make. Things start to get slow, start to get congested.
Batteries don’t last as long as they could with 5G, we’re starting to see some new technologies come on the market that allow for lower-cost devices, lower power devices, and many, many, many more devices that can work across spectrums and can work across standards as well. Previously, we were just stuck in the LTE realm.
Now, we can start to bring in things like LoRaWAN into that 5G ecosystem and WiFi and LTE advanced in the other CBIS technologies that can start to bring in this ecosystem and all this data coming into one place so we can be smarter about that data.
Definitely, one thing we are seeing as well is acceleration of the amount of data. We’re collecting so much information from so many places and so many devices that back hold starts to become limiting unless we start to move into these 5G worlds.
Jeff: It seems like everyone is doing something big in this space, but who are some of the biggest players that are moving the needle around IoT, that are truly accelerating it? Donna, I’m interested in your thoughts on who some of the biggest players are.
Donna: Well, I’m going to go back to the value chain. It requires multiple stakeholders in the value chain to do what they do and do what they do best. That’s why the LoRa alliance, we have 400 to 500 members and we have representation of all stakeholders of the value chain. It depends on what part of the value chain you’re talking about it. On our board, we have AWS, we have Microsoft, and they’re really keen with their cloud. We have Simtech, ST, as chip providers. We have hundreds of device makers, module makers, because, again, as Reg pointed out, long time ago when you were saying, Reg, they had to find the pieces. Now, we have hundreds of full end-to-end solutions by our members that partner and collaborate. We have thousands of devices out there.
To say who, we have big network players, Orange and Paris and–
Jeff: Everyone in tech, essentially.
Donna: Yes, and you say, who’s the biggest? It depends on the space that they’re trying to fill. Everybody has a role, and then they typically partner and collaborate to provide the full end-to-end solution because, historically, if I was the customer trying to implement something, I’d have to find someone to make this type of device, and then someone to put it my network, and then someone to have an application platform.
We’re not there anymore, thank goodness. Again, that’s where an open standard plays, because all of these value chain partners come together over the same standard, and they connect in and work together.
Jeff: I’ve heard this term ‘the Internet of everything’, because it’s like the Internet of Things, and then it’s like, well, it seems anything could be connected now. It’s like you’re the trees, the water, the soil that the farmers, or your pet. What are some of the trends we’re seeing right now with IoT, now that so many things are connected?
Reg: The thing that I’m really excited about with IoT is the adoption or the creation of new business models that never existed before, and things that we didn’t think about connecting before and now, different prism actually really interesting. You brought up connecting soil, and well, that’s interesting, you can measure your soil, that you make sure you have an alert that tells you that you haven’t watered your plot in weeks. I definitely need one of those.
You can actually start to enable new business models and you can start to see farmers that are now able to get insurance because they have soil sensors that can tell the insurance company the risk profile of what happens when a drought comes.
Or you start to see companies that can do outgrowing of vegetables because they trust that their supply chain is going to be there because they can track fertilizer movements. They can track how much pH is in the soil, and they can track temperatures and the effects of any climate change on their business model. I mentioned, before, asset financing, where you can track–I met a company that was tracking industrial printers for newspapers so that they can start to finance big printers, rather than having that massive capital expenditure at the beginning, and again, manage risk.
I think that’s the thing that I’m excited about is I don’t know what the future holds and that’s a great thing because these new business models are going to come, and come out of every field and really change the way that we work.
Donna: Very much, again, to Reg’s point, once you have the networks up. I’ll take smart cities for starting, and there are many, many cities around the world that have LoRaWAN Smart Cities deployed. Say the network is up. Typically they start with lighting on the streetlights, and they’ll put a gateway and they’ll monitor the lights. They are tracking and censoring what’s happening with lights for safety, for energy efficiency.
Once you have your network up, it goes to utilities: water, waste management, for conservation, for water quality. Then it goes to air; air quality. It goes to traffic; monitoring and managing traffic. When buses are coming, it goes to parking spaces, it goes to smart waste cans. It’s unlimited. Once your network’s up, you can add device, or use case after use case. One LoRaWAN gateway takes tens of thousands of devices. That’s exciting.
When you talk about agriculture, oh my gosh, that’s one of our key ones where we have farmers. We’re literally increasing the world’s food supply, and it’s through improving crop yields by water, soil management for the farmers. It goes on and on beyond that. Nutrients and whatnot. Through water and through food waste, we reduce food waste by tracking cold storage of food when it’s being transferred during delivery in stores and restaurants.
A lot of times, if you don’t have the right temperatures, you’ll waste a lot of food and we prevent that. In terms of what’s happening now, every vertical that I see is happening, it’s expanding. Let me just do one on safety. Again, I could do this all day but I think safety is a huge one. When you look at LoRaWAN deployments that are–
We have devices out there that tell us when tsunami, floods, fire, earthquakes are coming through vibrations, through water, through temperature sensors. We have alerts for mining shafts, for construction sites, for oil refineries, panic buttons. We have structural alerts for bridges and buildings if they’re starting to crack or crumble or have some structural integrity. We have alerts for actual assets like Reg talked about, so it’s tracking the assets to know where they are or to prevent theft, but it’s also tracking what’s happening inside the crates.
Is the temperature right? Is there breakage happening? Again, it is so expansive. Your original question of internet of things versus internet of everything, I think that’s just relabeling what’s really happening, but we are tracking. I like to say that anything your eyes can see is going to be somehow improved to help. That’s what we’re seeing with LoRaWAN.
Jeff: Reg, what are your thoughts on the future? If we think about the future, 10 to 20 years from now, how is IoT changing the landscape or how is IoT changing?
Reg: We are starting to see the point that everything is becoming measurable, or we have the ability to go in and measure so many different things. One of the interesting parts of that is when that information becomes smarter and better, and we can start to bring in lots of different sensor types to start to determine outcomes that we didn’t think were determinable before.
I think the things I’m excited about going into the future of IoT, how we can improve efficiencies and reduce waste. I think it’s still––I forget the exact number, but it’s something 70% of the world’s water utilities are non-revenue.
They’re wasting significance about water based on leaks. Can we go through and measure that water, measure those leaks so that we can preserve our fresh water supplies around the world? What can we do that’s really impactful that’s going to change society?
It’s interesting to think about what’s in the home and your smart coffee maker and what that can do, and you can turn your oven on as you’re driving home, so your dinner is ready by the time you get there. I think that IoT world it’s bigger than that. It’s really impacting society in so many wonderful ways. I’m excited about the impact and the equality that can come out of this data that’s coming out of IoT sensors.
Donna: I’ll say something that really excites me, that’s fairly new, is digital twins, which is a virtual environment. It’s a virtual environment of either an object, a thing, a building, or a system, and it’s already happening right now. It’s not mainstream, but as digital twins, again, they take this virtual environment or building and they do simulations and they do different types of things.
It does predictive maintenance as well as preventative. LoRaWAN sensors are a big key to that. We’re feeding the digital twins this information, and also there’s more and more happening on the edge with the gateways in terms of just the turnaround of AI, getting smarter and smarter of the data that it’s getting and producing back.
As AI and process automation continue, and digital twins become more mainstream, we will see hyper-performance and profits for businesses because that data just keeps getting smarter and smarter and smarter.
Rob Tiffany: What’s IoT going to look like 10 to 20 years from now. If things go well, we won’t be saying IoT anymore. It’ll just disappear into the background. It’ll fade back into the fabric of things. Right now, like in the early days of any technology revolution, there’s lots of hype.
You’re always talking about it every day, it’s new, it’s exciting, where right now we’re either building new products that have compute storage power networking baked into them. But for the most part, in the industrial space, particularly, we’re retrofitting old things and applying sensors and things like that to machines to get more insights from them and pulling data from different sources.
In the industrial space, they don’t get rid of old machines really quickly. They might be hanging around for decades.
We’re going to spend a lot of time retrofitting, but over time, these old machines that are having a retrofit, the newer versions of those machines, those things that make other machines, things in factories or airplanes, or bullet trains, or cars, all kinds of stuff, they’re going to start having those IoT-ish capabilities baked into them at time of manufacturing.
While it’s a big deal now to retrofit as we retire older products over time, the newer ones that are going to start coming out in the coming years will have that capability baked into them right out of the box with connectivity and everything. When you buy whatever that product is, it will wake up that first time, make a connection and start sending telemetry about its health.
Jeff: What about AI? As we think about the future of technology and the future of the human experience, it seems like the compounding of things, the fact that we have billions of devices that now have AI in them. That was really pushed by a lot of the voice AI platforms as a type of IoT, but where do we see that really making a big difference in the future? That was that “meter of smart.” It sounds like, “Hey, we’re already doing a lot of projected or preventative maintenance or preventative health. We’re saving lives, buildings, preventative insights on bridges,” you mentioned. All that sounds huge, but how do we see AI impacting, accelerating the benefits of IoT.
Reg: I got to spend a bit of time a few years ago in Busan, South Korea. Busan is one of the first and I think one of the strongest smart cities around the world. Really they’ve gone through and tried to put sensors on nearly everything from smart lighting, to traffic lights, to buttons, to push when you’re filling, including the ports and logistics and streets and sewerage systems.
The data that started to come out of that is saying that AI is really able to improve people’s livelihoods by bringing in all this data that previously was siloed so any human or any one person can’t go through and sift through that amount of data, or determine insights from it.
With AI, we can take massive amounts of disparate data and turn it into something useful and start to improve public safety, start to improve traffic patterns and efficiency, improve utility systems, like I said, in just ways that are not comprehensible by the just sheer amount of data that’s coming out of these systems.
As well as that, there’s definitely AI being used in understanding patterns of things that are like weather patterns and starting looking in the agricultural space of how do you predict into the future, what you need to add to your soil and when you need to water because you know the weather’s going to do something coming up so you need to look forward in time to see that based on historical data.
Definitely, as I said, we’re seeing the impacts now, and imagining what’s in the future is quite incredible.
Jeff: Nice. One of the things that happened here in the local Seattle area is we had––it was Orcas Island in our San Juan islands, they had a fiber connection that got cut and most of the economy of that island got shut down essentially because it was reliant on the internet.
We now have Starlink coming up, we have an Amazon hyper building about an infrastructure for the internet in space. Any thoughts on how we stay ahead of some of the risks of having everything connected, but then having so much of our economy reliant on those connections?
Donna: There’s also satellites too. Like I talked about, we have a lot of satellite companies within the alliance that are low orbiting satellites and there are more and more devices that are coming out where it goes from device directly to satellite versus device to a gateway, and then up.
I don’t know if those will play more of a part on it, but there are backup systems. Like I said, a lot of the stuff that’s happening is localized. It’s going right to the gateway and the data’s on the gateway. So, if there’s any kind of two-cloud catastrophe, you’re still getting all the data being collected and processed there.
Reg: I actually have a personal story in that I got stuck in an airport in Northern Kenya at one point because the internet stopped working and the plane couldn’t land and so we were stuck there for two days based on a fiber cut. They are very real problems. There’s things coming into the future that are going to help prevent that with really smart edge devices.
The processing capability in these devices is just improving rapidly and so devices can make decisions themselves now. AI that was previously just the domain of big cloud systems is able to be modeled in the cloud and then deployed right at the edge. You can do both this more reliable model, but also faster. You can have faster response times to environmental effects.
Then the other part of IoT that is, again, it’s changing, but it has some pretty big risks is security, is how we manage data security, how we manage security of devices. There were many cases of smart light bulbs using lower cost devices that really didn’t have enough security on them and they exposed security risks to the local data.
As we start to see, like I said, increased processing capacity and increased encryption on devices, the availability of encryption becomes much more secure. Then as those edge devices become more secure, the devices in your home become more secure.
Eventually we get to this point that things are harder for vectors to come in here. Microsoft’s working on edge sphere and various full end-to-end solutions of security, but I think it’s something that we need to make sure we’re aware of so that as we move into the future, we can deliver a sustainable ecosystem.
Rob Tiffany: What are the biggest challenges faced by IoT today? There’s no shortage of challenges. I’d say the top one that I experience have to do with the complexity of internet of things solutions. Security is a big thing. Security is what gives chief information officers, CTOs, executives at companies that are looking to do IoT for all the obvious reasons of value, making money, saving money, new business models, safety, stuff like that, but IoT inadvertently created the largest attack surface in the history of computing.
Lots of hackers out there, they’re never sleeping and they’re attacking us all the time. IoT certainly can add some vulnerability to company assets, and so that gives leaders pause. Is the upside good enough to outweigh the possible downside from hack attacks?
Jeff: What about healthcare? We started there. You guys both mentioned you have experience there. How do we see this space in the next 10 to 20 years? How will IOT advance healthcare? Obviously, there’s a combination of other technologies at play.
Donna: I think LoRaWAN and LPWAN is huge for healthcare. One, it doesn’t interact with their IT infrastructure, which is key. It’s a separate network and that’s always important with healthcare because of all the data compliance.
In healthcare right now, it spans the gamut from, again, making sure that medications are stored at proper room temperatures, tracking medical equipment, cleaning automation, finding dementia patients. They tend to wander. I’m all over the map, but expanding telehealth applications.
During COVID, there were popup tents that came up in parking lots and they used LoRaWAN for the information and the buttons, the nurse buttons, and call lights in these popup tents. It’s huge, and particularly in healthcare now and it will be in the future as well, between the burnout from COVID and healthcare and labor shortages and nurses burning out.
Actually, there’s a whole thing where nurses are retiring at a much greater rate than nurses coming in. The labor shortage has been and is very, very real. One of the things that LoRaWAN does incredibly well for healthcare, other technology systems as well, but particularly for healthcare is supporting labor.
You don’t need an RN to go check the medication temperature every three hours. It’s all automated, and spending time tracking the equipment. It really helps with the efficiency and with the labor shortages so that the healthcare workers can focus on the patients and the clinical needs and not the tasks that must be done, but doesn’t have to be done by them.
It will continue to soar in healthcare in every single aspect of the business and not just hospital healthcare, but home healthcare again with telehealth services, with tracking different types of safety for kids or, again, Alzheimer’s patients, or all settings of healthcare, not just healthcare systems.
Reg: My background, prior to telecoms was in home healthcare as well, and low intervention healthcare. Some of that stuff is interesting when you can improve compliance, when you can start to provide ways to ensure that patients are doing things they need to be doing to improve their health.
Then you can start to layer on top of that AI where you can look at, is this person actually at risk based on three or four different measurements that might be done in the home. Maybe that’s a blood pressure monitor and heart rate, a CPAP machine and how often they’re using that machine and looking for trends and looking for predictors that say, actually this person needs to go into a clinic now or maybe they don’t.
Maybe we don’t need to use unnecessary nurse time to review a patient that actually is fine at home. Improving the efficiencies based on, do people always need to come to hospital? Can they be managed at home with smart intervention? Probably. I think the other area that’s really key is logistics. You see that with the massive worldwide rollout of vaccines and how cold chain works.
Can we ensure that something that has to be delivered at minus 40 degrees gets from point A to point B without any temperature spikes in between? Can we improve the way that we’re not shipping things around the country unnecessarily, can we start to improve that logistic management and track fleets and track containers? Can we make sure that hospital rooms are well stocked looking at stocking levels at the edge so that when something happens, those supplies can be rapidly deployed to that area.
I think, these are all areas, IoT can really jump in and support healthcare.
Donna: I think those are great examples, Reg. The point about the COVID vaccine, we have several members that have been involved in using LoRaWAN to track the COVID vaccines because of the temperature issue. In fact, we’re doing a lot of work with pharmaceuticals in general, around storage and transferring the medications and whatnot. Those are great points.
Reg: I think we’re also seeing this really interesting thing where ambient measurements of devices. One, I think came out a few years ago, was looking at pollution levels in cities. Can you put air quality sensors in many places than they were previously? Then can you hyper localize down to, okay, this is actually where we need to provide some intervention, as well as just that read coming off the air quality sensor.
Are there lots of other indicators that are coming in off other devices? Maybe looking at people footprints and through traffic and that we can start to combine and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict where healthcare needs to be that needs more intervention.
I think these are all areas that are starting to emerge as well and become opportunities.
Jeff: There’s a lot of moving pieces there. How do we orchestrate that together or how is that being done right now so that you do end up with net benefits versus the history of silos that we still see?
Donna: It’s called standards.
Jeff: Standards. This comes back to your role. You have a very important role for the future.
Donna: Very important role. It is. It’s a standard, and the standard allows everyone to build to the same interoperable standard and implement it. Again, it’s happening right now in cities where there are multiple areas where they’re taking multiple data points in different things, in different measurements, and bringing it together for a key insight or a key action. Again, that’s happening all over the world.
It’s standards. It’s standards that allow the devices to bring the information together and get through the network, and have an application server. It’s standards. There’s no way any proprietary solution can drive the world like this.
If you look at it, Wi-Fi is a standard, cellular 3GPP is a standard. The way I look at it, you’ve got Wi-Fi, you have cellular and you have LoRaWAN for the LPWAN side. Those are the three key pillar standards, and Bluetooth, that are out there really driving all of this.
Jeff: It seems like with the pandemic, with the supply chain issues, with the war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukraine, we’ve had all these disruptions in our connected global economy. Does the future of IoT allow us to self-heal, in a sense? Because we’re so connected. I think we’ve seen the inward of people going like, “Okay, I need to not be as reliant on the rest of the world,” but does the future of IoT enable us to shift more quickly to other sources, essentially because we have that information at our fingertips.
I’m curious about how this notion of the connected world and the connection of everything, how we deal with these macro issues that have created massive disruption. We’ve witnessed this in multiple areas in the last three years
Donna: COVID solved and helped us out of so many issues during and after that period. I just had a conversation with my team the other day on this. When you look at the oil crisis and you look at rates are going up and we hear that actually, unemployment’s going to raise again. You look at all of these key issues, and when I think of LoRaWAN and how it supports labor, right?
If the labor shortage is there and how it drives business bottom lines and how it can track assets. When I look at all of the things that are happening in the world, really, these are some of the tools that we have that can help those exact issues. We actually had a list going of all the key topics and unfortunate things that are happening in the world. We were looking for just our own interest of all the different ways that LoRaWAN can support each and every one of those crises.
Reg: I think working in the emerging markets has given me a unique viewpoint on this and something that’s very dear in my heart. Some of the work that I’ve been doing before was looking at how you can measure water quality in refugee camps in Northern Kenya and Somalia, because you don’t get these mass diseases if you have clean water.
How do you deliver clean water? You can only deliver clean water if you’ve got good infrastructure. How do you ensure you have good infrastructure? You have to have good funding. These pieces have to line up in order for you to get real changeable impact happening at the edge.
IoT helps you get that information back faster. Specific to the war in Ukraine. It’s so new, but you’re starting to see data coming, data availability, and communications in places that, if this was 20 years ago, those places would be annexed entirely. You’d just be very, very dark from a communications standpoint.
Now, with the availability of that data that’s there and availability of communication, both for people and for things, we’re going to start to hopefully see healing much faster. Again, at least we’re going back to the emerging markets areas that are typically been neglected and typically been slow to change by adding these interventions and by adding in the available data, you can start to make changes that are really impacting people’s livelihoods and people’s lives.
Yes, I’m excited about this increased connectivity that’s happening, not just in people’s homes in America, but around the world as well.
Jeff: It brings forward the truth, right? There’s an element of you can’t say one thing––it’s hard to deceive people.
Reg: Absolutely. There’s now examples of renewable energy plants popping up all over the world that are now connected to IoT and can now prove that they are solar-generated and not just data that someone’s made up out of the sky. You can actually start to see business models, again, coming up out of micro generation that was previously too hard to manage if it’s happening in a million places but now that’s available.
Jeff: Donna, your thoughts.
Donna: Yes, I’ll give you some examples about how the government’s driving IoT. One is the UN, the United Nations, 17 sustainable goals. That’s around air, water quality. LoRaWAN kicked off a whole launch about LoRaWAN for good that supported, in countries around the world, key pieces of the UN sustainable goals.
There is ESG for companies, environmental governance, and sustainability for companies and corporations. They’re really being looked at from their stockholders and the markets and employees about what are you doing for ESG?
Again, LoRaWAN plays a huge key in driving ESG and tracking it, and monitoring it as well. Just recently, in the US, the Biden administration has just launched some initiatives around clean air in buildings, clean air in schools specifically. Again, LoRaWAN is already deployed in many schools for looking at the CO2 levels and the number of classes and ventilation, and humidity.
The government is actually driving IoT as well and some of the funding is coming from there too to help support these very critical initiatives.
Jeff: Any thoughts on what we need to do to maintain the human experience and make sure we’re designing for what’s good for us? I know we’re hearing the benefits, but it seems, like history would tell us, there’s also some byproduct where we’re not changing as fast. It caught up in like “Hey, we’re on phones all day and not spending time, not connecting with each other in a more meaningful way” as one example.
There’s always pros and cons to technology, but any thoughts on how we can be more intentional for the future?
Reg: I think this is an area that’s very key. If we look at other technologies, AI, for example, there are many, many examples of biased AI that’s implemented negative things into our society. There’s lots of people that are––facial tracking and facial recognition can be used for things that aren’t so great, and the same thing with collecting mass amounts of sensor data from everywhere. It can come with risks.
I think that if we do weigh up the pros and cons, and I think we need to go into this with open eyes, we can do some really, really amazing work and start to think about how can we ensure people’s personal privacy, but still provide a benefit to society that is useful.
There’s a fine line in that. I think it comes with learning, and some honest realization of what “Is it that we’re trying to achieve here?” Do we always need to put sensors in everything? Probably not, but as the utility in doing that, probably in many cases, yes.
Jeff: Thank you. Donna, any thoughts from you?
Donna: Again, I’ll speak specifically to LoRaWAN. The goal of LoRaWAN is to not be intrusive, to take the information, and take action on your own once you’ve sent parameters. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, what’s the downside?”
Sorry, there really isn’t, it’s about allowing people to have more time to do what they do well, and automate the efficiency of the operations in a way that just keeps moving. That’s the goal.
Rob Tiffany: What are the main social and cultural aspects of IoT as we move forward? In the early days of it, you’ll certainly hear a lot of talk about IoT replacing people and jobs and things like that. We all know how, in society, that can cause upheaval. Of course, that’s what technology does. That’s what automation does.
We used to build cars by hand, and now we do them in factories on assembly lines, that’s automation. Farmers used to till the soil by hand, and then they got horses to help them, and then we invented tractors. Those are innovations of technology that make it easier to do more with less.
IoT is just another innovation like that. It’s going to help augment people, people and machines will work together. I think as artificial intelligence gets better and better over time, you’ll see more humans and machines and artificially intelligent systems working together side by side to accomplish tasks.
Jeff: My last question is around disconnecting. We’re connecting more and more as human beings. How do we also be intentional about disconnecting? Can the technology that we’re creating and connecting, can that also help us?
Donna: I don’t disconnect well, so I’m probably not a good person to answer that. I don’t know. I’m not one that’s so deep into technology that feels like it rules me, but I am so appreciative of the technology that I use and the efficiencies and the connections that it gives me.
I don’t feel overwhelmed by it all, but again, I don’t have a zillion gadgets in my house and everything connected, but the stuff I have, like I said, I can’t imagine because it really makes me more efficient.
Reg: I think for me it’s about how we continue to enable human connection. I think anything that reduces our pure screen time can be seen as a good thing. I think IoT and edge and physical devices rather than purely digital devices or physical devices and enhanced by digital can start to enable that. We don’t need to go to our phone or our smartwatch to do things now that can happen in the background without our intervention is great.
When we don’t need to spend as much time fiddling and thinking about technology as we can just living our lives and technology manages things behind the scenes, I’d say, I think it is a good thing. I would like to hope that IoT ends at this point where it’s sitting in the background, it’s not ever-present in our minds, but it’s doing all the things that we can spend more time with people and spend more time with other humans rather than managing technology.
Donna: Well said.
Jeff: Let’s end on that note. Thanks for your insights and wisdom, both of you guys. Reg, for the work you did and are doing that touches people around the world, the strategies you have and have implemented for the refugee camps in Kenya.
Donna, for your work as a leader in advancing the internet of everything, and the opportunity it has to get help companies from all their biggest problems, but also save lives. In your new roots, in that space and thinking about how we can build a better world together and design that together, knowing that technology is a key part and will be a key part of that future. Thank you.
I really enjoyed learning from you and look forward to continuing to learn.
Donna: Thanks, Jeff. Thanks, Reg.
Reg: Thank you. Nice to meet you, Donna.
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