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Assembly enlightens the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), its features, security and adoption trends for a Smart World

Linking digital technology with science, a Smart World is envisioned as an era in which objects (eg. watches, mobile phones, computers, machinery, appliances, cars, buses, trains, etc) can automatically and intelligently serve people in a collaborative manner.

Paving the way for a smart world, the Internet of Things (IoT) helps the integrating and connecting of physical devices to the Internet without any human intervention, and human to human or human to computer interaction.

It is a revolution unfolding in the IT world, where people and things are connected with anything and anyone, anytime, anyplace, using a network or service.

The Internet is a continuously evolving entity where, everyday, radical changes are being brought about. And with cheaper and more readily available Broadband connections and more connected devices, data is becoming increasingy more available.

The Internet of Things is driven by an expansion of the Internet through the inclusion of physical objects combined with an ability to provide smarter services as more data becomes available. Here the ‘things’ refers to the embedded machines with sensors that can gather, store and analyse data.

As they are linked to the Internet, data can be uploaded for processing; updated software can be uploaded and can even be managed from a long distance.

The term Internet of Things describes a number of technologies and research disciplines that enable global connectivity over worldwide physical objects. Objects in IoT can sense the environment, transfer the data, and communicate with each other. They become powerful tools to understand the physical world and to respond to emergent events and irregularities promptly. Thus, the IoT is seen by many as the ultimate solution for getting insights about real-world physical processes in real-time.

Technologies like RFID (radio-frequency identification), sensor networks, biometrics, QR codes, and nanotechnologies are the cornerstone of the IoT, in which information and communication systems are invisibly embedded in the environment around us, addressing varying applications, including smart grid, e-health, and intelligent transportation.

In effect, IoT makes full use of things to offer services to all kinds of applications.

Everything around us – from small rooms to large buildings, from everyday appliances to sophisticated embedded systems, from man-made artifacts to natural objects – could be connected, sense and cooperatively communicate over the Internet.

Every device connected to IoT is uniquely identified by its IP address. The brains of these objects will be sensors. These sensors are micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) that will respond to changes in temperature, sound, humidity, pressure, motion, light, time, weight, etc, and take the necessary action that it is programmed to do.

IoT can also lead to a greener and cleaner environment through its technologies that reduce energy consumption

Environmental issues are acquiring more attention as the general public becomes more aware of the formidable consequences of environmental degradation causes.

Recent technological advances are now paving the way for an emerging area known as Green IoT.

The Green Internet of Things (G-IoT) is predicted to introduce significant changes in our daily life and would help realise the vision of green ambient intelligence which interconnects our physical world through green networks. Green networks in IoT will contribute to reduce emissions and pollutions, make the most of environmental conservation and surveillance, and minimise operational costs and power consumption.

It provides a systematic solution that enables green and sustainable growth of society. It supports innovations and applications for addressing societal challenges, such as smart transport, sustainable city, and efficient utilisation of energy.

Technology elements of IoT

There are six elements in IoT – identification, sensing, communication technologies, computation, services and semantic.

Identification is naming and matching services with their demand i.e. gathering information at a point of activity. This can be information captured by an appliance, a wearable device, a wall mounted control or any number of commonly found devices.

Sensing is for collecting various data from related objects and sending it to a database, data warehouse, data centre, etc. The gathered data is further analysed to perform specific actions based on required services. The sensors can be humidity sensors, temperature sensors, wearable sensing
devices, mobile phones, etc. The sensing can be biometric, biological, environmental, visual or audible (or all the above). Sensing technology is purpose specific.

Communication technologies connect heterogeneous objects together to offer specific services. This requires either Wi-Fi or WAN communications. The communication protocols available for the IoT include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC), etc.

Computation, the hardware processing units (e.g., microcontrollers, microprocessors, system on chips (SoCs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs)) and software applications perform this task. The Cloud is a particular important computational part of IoT, since it is very powerful in processing various data in realtime and extracting all kinds of valuable information from the gathered data. Gathered data is transmitted to a cloud based service where the information coming in from the IoT device is aggregated with other cloud-based data to provide useful information for the end user. The data being consolidated can be information from other internet sources as well as from others subscribing with similar IoT devices. Data processing is then required to provide useful information.

Services in IoT can be categorised into four classes: Identity-related services, Information aggregation services, Collaborative-aware services, Ubiquitous services.

Identity-related services provide the base for other types of services, since every application mapping real world objects into the virtual world needs to identify the objects first. Information aggregation services gather and summarise the raw information which needs to be processed and reported. The obtained data are further utilised by the collaborative aware services to make decisions and react accordingly. Ubiquitous services are for services to anyone on demand, anytime and anywhere.

Finally, Semantic means the ability to extract knowledge intelligently so as to provide the required services. This process usually includes: discovering resources, utilising resources, modeling information, recognising and analysing data. Commonly used semantic technologies are: resource
description framework (RDF), web ontology language (OWL), efficient XML interchange (EXI), etc.

Applications of IoT

Industrial Automation – machine to machine communications: with the use of RFID tags automation is possible. The RFID reader directly communicates with the robot without any human intervention.

Plant Monitoring – intelligent technologies can efficiently monitor various parameters, such as temperature, air pollution, machine faults, etc. of an industrial plant to improve energy efficiency.

Healthcare –

(a) Real-Time Tracking – tracks and monitors patients and medical equipment. In relation to assets, tracking assists with maintenance, availability, monitoring of use, and materials tracking to prevent any instrument from being inadvertently left behind in a patient’s body in the course of surgery.

(b) Identification: energy efficiency can be achieved by having efficient tracking methods, efficient RFID-based tracking, prediction techniques, etc. It is valuable for quickly retrieving patient information and monitoring patient locations in the hospital. These technologies can support patient identification to reduce patient incidents (such as wrong drug, dose, etc.), electronic health records (in and out patient), and infant identification (to prevent mismatching).

(c) Smart Data Collection helps to reduce processing time, automated hospital admission processing, and automated care and procedure auditing, and reduces costs.

(d) Smart Sensing: Sensor devices provide patient conditions for diagnosis and real-time health indicators.

Environment Monitoring – used to identify spatial and temporal changes, physical changes in the environment, organism changes, and changes caused by human actions or natural events:

(a) Agriculture – it can sense the water levels and accordingly the suitable crop can be grown. Aiding agriculture and helping prevent forest fires as well.

(b) Pollution control – the Internet of Things Academy (IOTA) is leading the charge for improving air quality in London. One solution that was proposed by the IOTA is the BuggyAir Project. The IOTA wants to have sensors in buggies (strollers) that measure pollution at street levels and record the data. The GPS in the stroller would give the exact location of the pollution levels. The use of IoT technology can make air pollution monitoring less complex and help in better understanding the environment.

(c) Waste management – the rapid increase in volume and types of solid and hazardous waste makes waste management a significant problem. Waste management is a vital issue, particularly in relation to the environment. The costs associated with waste disposal can also be significant, particularly in densely populated countries. Waste can be municipal waste, electronic waste, biomedical waste and industrial waste. To reduce the environmental impact of waste dumping, many municipal and corporate bodies are involved in the development of efficient waste management systems. Embedding a RFID reader, antenna and scale on the refuse truck can make them intelligent. When waste (with an RFID tag) is deposited into the bin, the reader and antenna communicates with the RFID tags, the bin can identify the type of trash to facilitate the recycling process. Furthermore, the waste bins can communicate with each other (by routing information across them) to better manipulate the waste. Such smart practices help promote a healthy environment.

(d) Smart water – portable water monitoring tools to monitor the quality of tap water.

(e) Smart environment – alarm and control of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated.


Public awareness about the changing paradigm of energy supplies, consumption, and infrastructure is increasing. Rather than being based on fossil resources or nuclear energy, the future energy supply needs to be based largely on various renewable resources.

The future electrical grid must be flexible enough to react to power fluctuations by controlling energy sources and the consumption by consumers. Such a grid will be based on networked smart
devices (appliances, generation equipment, infrastructure, and consumer products) based on IoT concepts.

Overall, IoT can dramatically increase the quality of life for citizens. There are countless examples of companies trying to make the world more green using IoT. IoT is something that everyone can get behind as it not only saves money, but it is good for the environment and the sustainability of the planet for future generations.

Governments and organisations are taking initiatives and are playing a laudable role in the up-lift of society. Governments across the world have put forth initiatives to force corporations to reduce carbon emissions, become more energy efficient, and use greener techniques.

For example, a project that collects power consumption data, assesses the energy-saving potential of technologies, protocols, architectures, and experiments with new approaches. It also includes training programmes to spread green network awareness.

Project Earth investigates the energy efficiency of wireless communication systems. It focuses on the theoretical and practical energy efficiency limitations of current networks to develop a new generation of energy efficient equipment, deployment strategies, and network management solutions to ensure quality of service (QoS).

The IEEE Communication Society has also established a Technical Subcommittee on Green Communications and Computing (TSCGCC). TSCGCC works to develop and standardise energy efficient communications and computing. It also provides opportunities to interact and exchange technical ideas, to identify R&D challenges, and to collaborate on solutions for the development of energy-sustainable, resource-saving, and environmentally friendly green communications and computing technologies.

Future of IoT

IoT has transformed our information ecosystem and has helped change our lives. From indoors to the outside world, the IoT has brought about a digital revolution. It has helped a lot in decision making with the use of analytics and subsequently improved transparency.

This has led to huge investments in sensors and which is likely to increase in the years to come. It is expected that the Internet of Things will be omnipresent in the coming years; improving the quality of our lives and the way we live and work.

We are already seeing smart cars, smoke detectors, door locks, industrial robots, streetlights, heart monitors, trains and wind turbines connected to sensors.

There are many things which need a focus in the areas of standardisation, security, and governance for the smooth functioning of the Internet of Things that can benefit society on the whole.

IoT represents an important paradigm shift in information and communications technology that will smooth the progress of smart cities around the world. And the G-IoT is expected to bring in noteworthy revolutions in our day to day life and will facilitate the vision of a green ambient intelligence.

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