The Internet of Things – Hype and Reality, Opportunities and Threats

IEEE UK and Ireland Systems Man and Cybernetics Chapter Invited Webinar (27 July 2016)

The term Internet of Things refers to a global infrastructure of interconnected objects that can collect and share data and information. It is a coming-together of various technologies and approaches such as the Internet, ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, near-field communication systems, real-time localisation, sensor technology, and embedded artificial intelligence.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already a reality in our lives, and currently, in excess of 25 billion devices are already connected to the Internet. In just four years’ time, by 2020, this number is expected to double to 50 billion. These connected devices are to be found in all aspects of everyday life, including healthcare, transport systems, energy systems, smart cities and smart homes.  The individual and social benefits of the IoT are immense, and include personalised and real-time management of individual healthcare, pollution control in cities, proactive prediction and control of emergencies within cities, and real-time traffic congestion management. Within industries, the IoT offers the opportunity for tighter process management, leading to better control of inventory. In the emerging smart home, embedded intelligence is being used to monitor and control energy use, temperature and humidity, and even taking charge of the home shopping.

In this talk I will discuss key features of the emerging IoT, and explain how it has emerged as a convergence of competing technological visions and paradigms. I will give an overview of the technological drivers for the IoT. This will include identification and sensor technologies, and communication technologies, with a primary focus on 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication technologies. I will also illustrate my talk with discussions of a number of applications that have already been deployed. This will include applications from transportation and logistics, healthcare, and smart cities.

I will conclude my talk by discussing current and potential threats of the IoT. This includes security and privacy. I will discuss advances that have been made to improve security in the IoT, and highlight shortcomings that are likely to compromise its current and future growth.  I will also look at potential socio-political implications of a ubiquitous and pervasive IoT. This will centre around privacy issues and the potential for abuse by both state and non-state actors. Like any new technology with the potential to revolutionise social and economic activity, the IoT has the potential for causing social upheaval. I will also consider the likelihood for this, and will suggest proposals for consideration by policy makers.


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