IoT World shines the spotlight on big data

Tuesday saw the kick-off of the second annual Internet of Things World in San Francisco and what a great start it was! The event was buzzing with people from the moment I entered the exhibition at 8:30 a.m. to attend the keynotes until I left at after 6 p.m. The atmosphere was electric, and announcement after announcement kept coming about the latest developments in IoT. 

IoT world shines the spotlightIoT is gaining momentum as electronic giants drive development forward by making their software and hardware open to developers to facilitate adoption and growth. Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung, made this abundantly clear in his opening keynote, declaring that Samsung wants everyone to build smart IoT applications on the company’s new Artik platform. 

“Artik allows developers to rapidly turn great ideas into market-leading IoT products and applications,” he told the crowd.


Indeed, Sohn shared on the stage some brilliant examples of what can be achieved. One of the first partners using Artik is Boogio, a startup that makes motion-tracking models for shoes. Boogio’s CEO Jose Torres said he got access to Samsung’s hardware about six months ago and was able to shrink down a prototype of the company’s latest model from something the size of a GoPro camera to a gumball-sized sensor. 

Another partner, Temboo! demonstrated a fully connected ecosystem for a smart watering tank, which can be used by farmers to better manage their water supply for crop irrigation. This was particularly pertinent, given that California is facing one of its most severe droughts on record while it continues to be the world’s fifth-largest producer of food, cotton fiber and other agricultural commodities. I was surprised to learn that 70 percent of the world’s water consumption goes to crop irrigation, so smart agriculture suddenly moves very quickly up the list of key IoT deployment initiatives, especially in times of an uncertain climate and weather patterns.

 Samsung’s Sohn also reaffirmed the company’s commitment to a connected lifestyle, saying that all of its products will be connected by 2020. This will be no easy feat for a company that ships 660 million products a year as the world’s largest manufacturer of TVs and second-largest manufacturer of home appliances. 

Analytics make sense of the vast amounts of data collected 

While security and privacy were the big discussion issues at Mobile World Congress in March, at IoT World the topic on everybody’s mind in relation to IoT is the potential for big data and analytics. Not only was there a conference summit on the show floor addressing IoT analytics, but it was addressed in the keynotes as well as, dominating discussion in the smart cities track, which I attended for the afternoon. 

Smart living – cities and everything else that falls under the connected umbrella – not only creates vast volumes of data but also relies heavily upon analysis of data to give the end user the best connected experience, from applying personal preferences and customization to helping them avoid traffic jams and monitor electricity use of appliances.

In the course of a single day, more than 300 billion emails are sent and 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched, according to Mike Carlson, President, Siemens Smart Grid Division, who spoke about how digitization is creating smarter cities. Overall, we are creating 5 exabytes of data a day!

 “Where is the value in all that data?” Carlson asked. 

As cities are becoming smarter and smarter, we need to start using data more intelligently to gain deeper insights, which will in turn improve services such as traffic management and electricity use, he said, adding that investment in analytics as a result will go from around $2 billion dollars to over $30 billion in North America over the next 20 years.

 Intelligent data will allow cities to manage their resources and infrastructure much better, and this is why cities such as Los Angeles are sharing data about traffic, water and energy consumption, and crime rates openly on their websites as they recognize that they alone cannot process and handle all the data themselves. Jonathan Reichental, Chief Information Officer, City of Palo Alto, California, stressed the importance of public-private partnerships when dealing with and handling lots of complex data sets. 

There are other data challenges, which Tim Myers, Senior Systems Architect, RailComm, pointed out. He suggested that it’s possible to collect too much data and suggested using edge analytics that only send back the most important data, so that vast quantities of data don’t flood the network, particularly in rural areas where you are lucky to get a 2G signal. 

There is clearly still a lot to consider when addressing large data sets, and this problem is far from being solved, especially in the context of a connected world where many independent data-sets are created by multiple partners including governments (both local and national), service providers and application providers. 

The debate will no doubt continue to dominate the continuing discussions today at IoT World, and the issues will also be top of the agenda at TM Forum Live!, when we gather in Nice, France, June 1-4 for our own flagship event.