The use of Internet of Things (IoT) to manage infrastructure and services is not a new concept, but response to the new normal of pandemic life, natural disasters, and the implementation of 5G networks all could accelerate the implementation of IoT solutions.
Stay-at-home orders, social distancing measures, and backlogged inspection schedules all combine to make a great case for implementing sensors and other IoT devices as part of infrastructure management. With technology providing data on the status of equipment, facilities, and general infrastructure like roads and bridges, the need to deploy inspectors to the field can be minimized. In the short term, this reduces potential points of exposure for inspectors and field staff. Longer term, it adds a new "colleague" to field management teams. IoT can handle routine, low risk monitoring, freeing up humans to focus on more complex or higher priority tasks and activities.
IoT on the Grid
As Texas was dealing with disruption to their electric grid as a result of three severe winter storms, NIST was releasing version 4.0 of the Smart Grid Framework. This version provides guidance and resources for grid cybersecurity in light of the growing use of interoperable sensors and smart controls in everything from power plants, solar panels and wind turbines, to home thermostats and water heaters. Enabling two-way communication between power generators, utilities, and consumers and making it accessible to other parties, could encourage the development of interoperable tools to help all grid participants make educated decisions about power use according to NIST. Of course, interoperability opens systems up to more threats and disruptions, so the framework includes a cybersecurity risk profile and contains numerous grid-specific security considerations.
The impact of 5G
One of the touted benefits of 5G is its speed which will enable more effective connection between IoT devices and better use of the data they collect. As public and private 5G networks are rolled out, a number of pilots are being implemented to see if these promised benefits live up to the hype. The Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany, Ga., is creating a 5G-enabled smart warehouse that will feature robotics, holographic barcode scanners, augmented and virtual reality applications to help manage storage and maintenance of vehicles, materiel and supplies. This project is part of the Defense Department's larger 5G initiative. Naval Base San Diego is also exploring the impact 5G can have on the use of IoT with an implementation that will be focused on transshipment between shore facilities and naval units. The goal being to increase the efficiency of naval logistic operations, including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval and transportation of materiel and supplies.
To stay up to date on the latest developments and trends related to IoT, check out these events and resources.
- Data & Analytics Summit (May 12, 2021; virtual) -- Government agencies generate and collect massive amounts of data, but have long struggled to extract value from all that information. The Federal Data Strategy provides a 10-year framework to "leverage the full value of federal data for mission, service and the public good." This event explores the efforts of agencies to develop an understanding of the technology, the data in question and their evolving mission needs.
- FedFWD: Roadmap to Digital Transformation (May 13, 2021; virtual) -- Leaders and decision-makers from government and industry discuss the power of modern platforms, the federal government's unprecedented push to adopt cutting edge technologies, and how this all enables agencies to extract new value from their data and succeed in their missions anywhere across the globe.
- Digital Transformation and the Internet of Things (white paper) -- While technology is, in fact, the core of IoT's DNA,it is just a piece of the puzzle needed to deliver on IoTs promise. With 60% of IoT projects still struggling to move out of proof-of-concept and scale successfully, there is more to IoT success than technology alone. What is needed and how can business leaders plan better for IoT success?
- 5G: The Future of IoT (white paper) -- This paper takes a look at the market drivers, trends and cellular technology solutions that will create our connected future. It provides an overview of developments in 3GPP standards for IoT, looking at both the Massive IoT and Critical IoT segments.