I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on “The Internet of Everything” educational session at ISC West 2014, featuring Bill Gerhardt, Cisco director of engineering for the IoT (Internet of Things) business unit.
The premise of the seminar was that the much ballyhooed Internet of Things referring to the emerging prolificness of connected devices and machines will soon become much more than that. We are moving toward an era when just about anything that has electricity pass through it will also possess connectivity that enables new paths of communication, data gathering, analysis and actions. And the mammoth whole of that will far exceed the sum of those parts. The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings into the equation the totality of people, processes, data and things.
Gerhardt shared projects pegging the number of “smart objects” skyrocketing from 12.5 billion today to 50 billion by 2020, or more than six times the number of humans on Earth. The adoption rate of digital infrastructure to support this ascent is progressing five times faster than electricity and telephony did when they emerged. Imagine all the security, lifestyle, monitoring opportunities and more this amazing trend represents to the electronic security industry. It’s fairly staggering.
Sensors lay at the heart of IoT as they sense and communicate the data needed to allow other devices and/or humans to make evaluations or take actions. And the king of those sensors is video, which Gerhardt calls the Uber Sensor in its seemingly limitless capabilities. He presented a timeline of the six generations of video and its role in moving to IoE. The first generation was locally accessed analog video surveillance; second was digital video; third was networked video; fourth was networked converged physical security; fifth is (where we are today) virtualized services and experience; and sixth will be the impending Internet of Everything.
According to Gerhardt, there are five components necessary for networks to benefit from the IoE. They are: cross function convergence; resilience at scale; security; distributed intelligence; and cloud management. He said security was the single more critical element among those five. He further detailed these six additional characteristics: interoperability among disparate systems; data sharing among departments; common infrastructure investments; standardization of interfaces where possible; adaptability to new technologies; and rapid deployment of resources.
Lastly, Gerhardt offered some markets and applications where IoT and IoE are either already or will soon make an especially significant impact. He said Barcelona is serving as a beta test or pilot for connected cities with an elaborate web of video, sensors and other devices/systems being deployed. The people, processes, data and things are helping the Spanish metropolis run more efficiently while also enhancing overall security and safety. In general, connected cities can optimize operations in numerous ways that include parking, lighting, traffic, buses, waste management and much more. Retail is another leading application for IoT/IoE and yields an easily quantified return on investment by helping to understand what influences people in stores to make buying decisions. Other markets include manufacturing to maximize efficiencies, and transportation to enhance both the customer experience and safety.