For most of my clients, I am a digital expert. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something to do with digital design or how satellites work. I am digital, therefore I should know.
Of course, the reality is that it is impossible to know everything.
But every now and again I like to broaden my horizons, which is why I went to the Internet of Things Meet-Up at Future Labs in Leeds to meet a room full of very intelligent people. I had no idea that The Internet of Things could let you do so many…. Things!
The first talk was given by Joe McKay from IBM Watson. His talk was on how they have used an open source tool called NodeRED to effectively mine business data.
Using the example of office spaces, Joe showed us how drag and drop functionality in NodeRED allowed him to monitor temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in different locations without having to write code to pull back readings. This intelligence could then be used in order to make proactive changes.
Examples of this included:
- Identifying areas of hotdesking which are not being used and closing down / re-using those spaces
- Proactively telling managers to open windows/turn on heating or aircon when temperature, humidity or CO2 levels were high enough to impact staff productivity
- Identifying when the temperature of water sources was high enough to potentially cause the spread of harmful bacteria
Unlike a lot of Internet Of Things projects, it was clear that this intelligence had an absolute commercial benefit: the elimination of inefficiency. Lots of the organisations I have worked with are great at gathering data, but not so good at knowing what to do with it. So it was interesting to see how NodeRED added a layer on top of, what could be a difficult amount of data to interpret.
The second talk was from Jem Henderson from the Digital Catapult IoTUK Programme. As a relative non-techy like myself, it was nice to see how large amounts of very clever technology is being made more accessible. Jem facilitates this by taking complex concepts and stripping them back into clear and concise content, which is digestible to the marketing and commercial world.
One of the most interesting things about her talk was the discussion on PETRAS who are helping to set guidelines for the Internet of Things businesses. Their recommendations over privacy seem very apt at the moment, with such a strong agenda over listening devices and misuse of customer data. It will be interesting to see how the new regulations on GDPR have an effect on the internet of things businesses. Companies who want to store data from wearable or transportable internet-connected devices for historical financial reporting will have to be particularly careful when writing terms and conditions overuse of data and customer consent.
Finally, there was a mention of some of the social good being facilitated through IoT projects. Both Leeds and Manchester have revolutionary smart city projects going on, leveraging everything from monitoring pollution levels through to re-creating lost cityscapes through Virtual Reality. All very interesting (if a bit mind-blowing)!
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