To consumers, the Internet of Things (IoT) is about technology for controlling home lights and locks from a smart watch or phone. It’s about simplifying and automating tasks in our lives. But to modern businesses and organizations, IoT means much more than that. In fact, IoT isn’t really a technology at all—it’s a process for rapidly collecting and collating information, and it can help organizations respond faster to emergencies, improve productivity and efficiency, and access new insights from data.
Here are three ways that organizations are using IoT to transform how they operate.
Keep First Responders Safer
Firefighters rush into danger without hesitation when lives are on the line. Supervisors need to know where their men and women are at all times, even in the midst of chaos, smoke, and flames. New IoT technologies can help keep firefighters safer, even in extreme situations. Wearable sensors can monitor life support, remaining oxygen supply, environmental conditions, and the current location of responders. Some sensors are even capable of identifying if a firefighter is standing, running, crouching, or lying prone.
The various IoT sensors transmit data to the cloud and to supervisors, who can use a tablet app to monitor the situation in real time. If a responder’s air supply runs low or a firefighter suddenly stops moving, a rescue team can be sent in immediately to help.
Streamline Processes in Retail
IoT helps modern retail businesses stay ahead of the competition by tracking inventory levels, the locations of products, and even customer traffic flows in large stores. For example, small, affordable sensors on products can identify their locations all the way from the factory to trucks, warehouses, and into retail stores. Other sensors on the trucks themselves can help monitor fuel efficiency and truck location, in addition to even identifying maintenance issues. The benefits of IoT even extend into factories where key production equipment can be monitored to flag—and sometimes automatically fix—problems the moment that they occur.
In stores, inventory trackers can trigger systems that notify key personnel of low stock and can even automatically re-order items. Cameras can monitor customer movements to identify high-traffic and low-traffic areas in a store, or to alert security if a customer breaches an off-limits area.
Analyze Complex Data for Businesses
Enterprise businesses use IoT technology to help collect and analyze data in near real time. With the results of that analysis, these companies can respond much more quickly to changing needs than their competitors can. To achieve real-time analytics, businesses often use IoT sensors at “the edge”—locations that are remote from headquarters, like oil rigs or factory floors. In many cases, data from those locations is analyzed right at the source by using an Intel IoT Gateway or similar device that can run SAP analytics. This gives on-site supervisors immediate information that they can use to respond to pressing issues, like mechanical breakdowns. But for deeper analysis, data from multiple sensors and multiple locations is sent to the cloud or to a data center. There, applications like SAP HANA can be used to identify patterns and trends, which allows the business to better plan for future needs or respond to changing conditions.
Putting It All Together
This combination of real-time, actionable insights at the edge with deeper analytics in the cloud or data center makes IoT a compelling technology for businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and healthcare providers.
Intel is at the forefront of many of the IoT solutions described above. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at some of the videos, papers, and infographics on their website for more information.
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