Over the past 20 years, advances in mobility-enabling technologies have driven a slow and steady revolution. The poster child for this revolution has been the smartphone, which as we know has transformed everything from dating and socializing to working and shopping. While the impact of the smartphone has been well documented, there’s also been another crucial but opaque driver of the revolution in mobility: the Internet of Things (IoT).
Not that IoT is a new or unknown concept – with each passing year, it’s more ubiquitous in our daily lives. Smart assistants like Alexa connect to household appliances such as microwaves and dishwashers. Your home’s climate control can be adjusted from anywhere in the world, and you can even shop for groceries from your refrigerator.
The same IoT technology that is making our lives more productive at home is also hard at work across the enterprise, helping to create actionable data, drive efficiencies and increase profitability — not only for you, but also for your customers. IoT can use the data in real time — whether it be from vehicles, applications or other devices — to drive informed decision-making based on what is happening at that moment. Outside of operations, companies can leverage data in marketing, sales and business development efforts as concrete examples of capabilities and results.
To pull this off, IoT projects need to be seamless and easy to deploy. Think of an elevator company using IoT to provide analytics and maintenance data in real-time today. Currently, it’s a cost of doing business. But what if a 5G-capable IoT connection could also add live streaming and advertisements on an elevator display to add new revenue?
What follows are a few examples of organizations that are using IoT to help themselves and their customers today.
A not-for-profit hospice and home healthcare provider in Florida, Stratum Health System (a MetTel client), cares for patients living with advanced illnesses. By leveraging IoT, they’re able to marshal the right resources to the patients that need them most, when they need them. At the center of Stratum’s IoT strategy is Single SIM, which ensures their IoT devices receive the fastest connectivity available in the area a clinician is operating in with no lapses. This is important because Stratum can encounter connectivity problems in rural areas where many of their patients are based.
IoT is also being used to save lives in hospital emergency rooms. With 1,100 beds and an occupancy north of 90%, the emergency room at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City is constantly under pressure to find beds for patients urgently in need of care. To help meet the need, the hospital turned to a bed-tracking program called AutoBed, which tracks the occupancy of up to 1,200 beds and factors in 15 patient requirements to triage bed requests so the patients most in need of care get the immediate attention they need. The results have been hugely successful; Mt. Sinai reported that the technology has resulted in a reduction in emergency room waiting times for 50% of their patients who need inpatient beds.
Tire and Automotive
TireHub (a MetTel client), uses IoT to constantly monitor and optimize inventory for up to 50,000 SKUs and its drivers’ routes in real time while employing Single SIM to ensure they don’t go offline while their delivery trucks are delivering inventory.
Increasingly, more advanced IoT — in partnership with AI — is also driving the move toward autonomous vehicles. For instance, earlier this year Ford entered into an agreement with Mobileye – an autonomous driving technology company — to provide advanced driver-assist features, including “forward collision warnings; vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection; and lane centering.” As this technology advancement progresses, I believe it’s inevitable that trucking and logistics will become increasingly centered on IoT — and as a result safer and more efficient.
Government and Infrastructure
As the fifth-largest city in the U.S., Phoenix and its Department of Public Works (a MetTel client) is challenged with managing 270 million gallons of tap water and treating 135 million gallons of wastewater daily — while also servicing a population of 1.6 million people. The city is also targeting zero waste by 2050. To help get them there, the Department of Public Works is working with my company to reduce waste and improve efficiency by automating vehicle location services through IoT-connected devices to monitor fuel usage, route efficiency and maintenance scheduling.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is also working to help governments leverage emerging technologies to train first responders through the use of simulations and augmented reality. As part of the project, NIST is posing a grant challenge to develop augmented reality training for first responders, which could draw data from smart buildings, GPS and other sensors found in modern cities. They hope the data from the IoT sensors can augment first responders by giving them additional situational awareness and potentially saving lives.
As transformative as IoT is for businesses now, in the coming years the technology could become even more powerful as the emergence of 5G and advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning combine to create new capabilities for organizations and their customers. However, IoT isn’t something that’s necessarily ready out of the box. We talk a lot about digital transformation, and it’s important that companies identify the IT infrastructure they need — which could include mobility, cloud, software, etc. — before they move to IoT to ensure a seamless deployment.
By deploying IoT capabilities across the organization, not only can a company gain insights and drive efficiencies, but it can also often pass that intelligence and savings along to customers. No matter which industry a business is in, there’s a good chance that IoT can be a critical component of any digital transformation project, and when it’s properly implemented, it can be a great image-builder and selling point for business development.
This article was originally featured in Forbes.