IoT from Many Vantage Points

What is the Internet of Things? It depends on your vantage point, says Dave Tanis in today’s blog post. How employees, employers and IT departments experience IoT differs based on their requirements and usage. CommScope offers its viewpoint on IoT in the “Connected and Efficient Buildings” e-book, which is available for free.

IoTThis is the second post in a new blog series about intelligent buildings, based on content from the CommScope Connected and Efficient Buildings e-book.

I recently attended Cisco Live 2016 and saw banners on every wall about IoT – the Internet of Things. When I asked 10 different people what IoT means, though, I got seven different answers. Many answers were related to sensors, devices, data and analytics, while other people talked in terms of the user experience. I guess the answer to my question lies in your vantage point.

Let’s look at it from the point of view of the typical office worker, who I’ll call Martha, in a hot desk environment. (Hot desking is generally when employees share work space and/or computers.) Martha comes into the office and is assigned a desk to work for the day. She connects her laptop and smartphone to the WiFi and works for the day. The office is well lit and comfortably air conditioned. At the end of the day she packs up and goes home. What was her IoT experience? She connected to the Internet on her laptop and her phone via WiFi. Not a lot of direct contact with the IoT.

Now let’s look at the same scenario from the point of view of her employer. Martha was identified by the RFID tag on her employee badge, which was used to assign her an open desk to work. When she arrived at her desk, the occupancy sensor recognized her and turned on the desk light. The work space was logged as occupied in the system, and Martha was “clocked in” for the day. Martha logged onto the WiFi network with both her laptop and smartphone to work. Temperature sensors in the office continually collected data throughout the day to keep the room at a comfortable 74 degrees. The light sensors measured the amount of light coming in the window and adjusted the brightness of the LED lights to save energy. IoT helped the employer improve the working conditions in the office space to increase productivity and more efficiently manage operations.

Now let’s explore IoT from the vantage point of the IT department. IoT has added a new level of complexity to the size and scope of the network, thereby increasing the work load of the IT staff. Data collection is the first part of the equation. Sensors need to be deployed to gather data and can include temperature, humidity, occupancy, light levels and a whole host of other data points. Connectivity is key to ensuring that sensors and devices can send data. Managing the connectivity can be greatly simplified with the use of an Automated Infrastructure Management, or AIM system.

But once sensors are deployed, how do you take the data points, interpret them, create actionable data and implement the actions? The data may first be directed to a gateway router where it is gathered and translated to a common platform. Decisions on that data can be made locally from the gateway or sent to a cloud application to be further analyzed. Once decisions are made on the data and actions are developed, they are sent to individual control systems to be implemented.

For example, the air conditioner may be turned on to cool an office space. Delivering meaningful results requires being capable of implementing changes across a host of systems within the building. IT and facility departments need tools for harnessing the data and translating it into an actionable format to save money, conserve energy and improve the employee work experience.

CommScope offers its vantage point on IoT in the Connected and Efficient Buildings e-book. In it, we offer best practices for IoT and other network technologies that comprise an intelligent building. Download your free copy now to see what we see in IoT.