Predictive maintenance and asset tracking are two big IoT markets to watch in 2018 because they will provide real efficiencies and improved safety.
The real IoT trends to watch in 2018 are not telling your lights to turn on or watching delivery drones jet across the countryside. It will be about instrumenting our existing infrastructures with sensors that improve their reliability and help predict failures. It will be about tracking important assets through their lifecycles.
We owe a lot to some of our greatest and most comprehensive engineering feats--dams, roadways, and public transportation systems. But when compared to the pace of technological innovation today, these monoliths seem ancient, and in fact, some of them are.
Take for example, New Orleans, a city living below sea level, kept dry by a system of canals, levees, flood gates, and pumping stations that has existed in some form since 1830s.
In August 2017, a heavy rainstorm overwhelmed the pumping systems and flooded portions of the city. The problem was attributed to 17 pumps that were out of action and some turbines that had been offline for weeks.
A network of pump station sensors, water and rain sensors in the wards, and flood gauges in the canals and Lake Pontchartrain could provide local officials and experts with insights before or during the next hurricane event. Combining data from IoT sensors with hyperlocal weather forecast models, population statistics, and predictive maintenance scheduling can help model different rain and flood events—dramatically improving readiness for flood prone areas.
These IoT principles are equally important in asset tracking for issues such as food safety. The journey from ship to truck to distribution warehouse to truck to store invites a host of potential issues before that product reaches your hands. That same supply chain backed by sensors and connected via cell towers, provides important data points that can help pinpoint a damaged shipment of perishable goods and track the origin of the problem.
Again, these ideas can be applied to everything from renting a skimobile in the mountains of Colorado or an ATV in the deserts of New Mexico. Both vehicles can suffer engine breakdowns or crashes, potentially leaving thrill seekers stranded in dangerous situations. With mobile IoT data plans, engine instrumentation and cloud services you can craft predictive maintenance schedules and in the worst case locate a stranded rider.
Engineers can apply IoT to make the world better. By wrapping sensors around existing aging infrastructure, and tracking valuable assets through their supply chains, they can improve predictive maintenance, save lives, and maybe prevent disasters.
-- John Walicki is a senior technology architect at IBM and a Watson Internet of Things Developer Ecosystem Advocate.