- Have you ever turned your heating up using your phone?
- What about your CCTV pinging you an alert when something out-of-the-ordinary happens outside your home?
This is all possible thanks to the Internet of Things. IoT is about making everyday items ‘smart’ and connecting them. Smart devices, from phones and fridges to driverless vehicles and cities, are all linked through the Internet. IoT refers to the ‘space’ where these devices talk to each other.
As wireless networks grow, more devices can become part of IoT, helping make tasks easier – whether that’s your fridge automatically ordering milk when you’re running low, or major energy infrastructure adapting to information received from sensors on the ground.
We’re already seeing a range of major industries experiment, use and adopt IoT, from insurance providers and energy suppliers to couriers and retail giants.
But what about smaller businesses? What sort of benefits can IoT bring to Welsh SMEs?
Benefits of IoT
You can reduce your energy usage with IoT. Sensors can monitor things such as lighting and temperature and then switch lights off or lower the temperature automatically.
One step ahead
For haulage firms, maintaining their fleet is a vital part of their business. IoT can help spot issues before they become a problem – for example, if the brake pads on a truck are about to fail, the firm would be prompted to take the vehicle out of service and schedule maintenance.
If you’re a facility management firm, you could use IoT to collate data from thousands of sensors in things like coffee machines and soap dispensers, rather than checking them manually. Your team would then receive alerts about low stock and take immediate action. It also means you can order what you actually need, rather than what you think you need, saving you money.
Getting to grips with IoT
But it’s not just a case of flicking the ‘on’ switch. Setting things up can be difficult if you’re not sure what you’re doing, plus you also need the right tools to get your devices talking. Your business will need to adapt to the scale and variety of data produced by IoT devices to make the most of it.
Keeping things secure
There is concern around IoT and security. As some devices are so cheap, security can often be lower than expected for internet-enabled devices. This means that any device can, potentially, serve as a point of attack. To protect yourself, you should make sure that end-point security is properly addressed and make sure you minimise your risk as much as possible.
So, what’s the best way to get started?
Remember: the primary goal of IoT is to solve business problems, so avoid getting carried away and buying tech you don’t need.
Ideally, start with a low-risk project that has clear benefits. Once you’ve successfully done this, you can become more ambitious as your expertise and support grows.
What’s clear is IoT is here to stay and is set to change the world of business. While it may seem futuristic, it is already making a difference to Welsh businesses, helping them make more of digital.
IoT in Wales: Farming Connect and EIP Wales
Things like soil condition, the level of the water table, rainfall and air temperature all affect likelihood of water run-off from fields. If the field has recently had slurry applied, run-off will waste valuable nutrients and risk polluting rivers and ponds. This presents not just issues for land management, but potential environmental issues too.
In the project, the team will use devices to monitor the water table, soil moisture, rain and slurry pit storage. The information from these devices can then be used to determine whether or not to apply slurry. The project will be the first of its kind in Wales and will help identify good ways of using IoT in farming. Read more.