Tech & Trade: The Internet of Things
Posted on December 1, 2021
The first wave of the internet began with personal computers, moving quickly into people's homes. The second wave of the internet came with the cellular phone revolution, where so many more people have access to the internet in the palm of their hand. Now almost all electronic devices are or soon will have the ability to connect to the internet. This can be anywhere from e-readers and tablets to refrigerators, pacemakers, and components in manufacturing facilities.
Each physical device connected to the internet would be included as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Inexpensive computer chips and widespread wireless networking combined with sensors make up this network of smart devices that relay data back to a source in real-time for interpretation.
What makes the IoT confusing or complex is that it is not simply one thing. It can be something small and innocent like a kid's toy or a full-scale self-driving vehicle. Anything that can be connected to the internet with a sensor, microphone, camera, GPS, or item you can control remotely can be included as an IoT device. These devices automatically send information back to a network for data collection without any human interaction. Once received, this data can be analyzed for future needs.
The term "Internet of Things" was actually coined in 1999 by British Technology pioneer Kevin Ashton, but the term has taken some time to take hold. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags were one of the earliest IoT applications, which allowed for tracking using a small radio transponder. Now, RFID tags are used in many applications like tracking vehicles through an assembly line and have been injected into livestock or our family pets to relay information about ownership.
More sophisticated technology continues to enter the market, enabling even more real-time data-driven applications to improve efficiency, identify problems, and make our world more agile when faced with change.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is also called the 4th industrial revolution, referring to IoT technology based in a business setting. The variety of applications for industrial uses are increasing. Manufacturers can track the lifespan of parts, detect when systems are deteriorating before a breakdown occurs, and track inventory or temperature sensors across facilities. By using these sensor technologies, reduction of waste is possible as crucial components can be repaired at first signs of distress. With a focus on reducing consumption and e-waste, IIoTs can assist with monitoring systems for proactive maintenance, repair indicators, and performance issues (Adams, 2021).
Entire cities are embracing IoT technology for smart lighting, traffic and surveillance cameras, environmental sensors, water filtration, power stations sensors, dams and bridges, and many more essential functions to fulfill their duties more effectively. It also allows city planners to be more informed of the happenings in these well-connected locations.
Ports are even taking advantage of this intelligent technology. Smart ports use automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT technology to monitor traffic flows, cargo handling, energy use, and pollution control/monitoring. Primarily focused on seaports but expanding to inland ports, the need for increased efficiency has been amplified by the pandemic. Yahoo Finance predicts that smart port tech will grow from $1.7 billion today to a $5.1 billion industry by 2026 (Global Smart Ports Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2026: Asia Pacific Forecast to Grow at Highest CAGR During 2021 to 2026, 2021). The real-time data collected and analyzed has been immensely helpful to understand the problem areas to increase efficiencies. Smart ports are expanding throughout the Asia Pacific region as its maritime growth is high with lower production costs and expanding economic development.
By multiplying the IIoT beyond one company in a supply chain but across the whole system, real-time data, inventory tracking, and GPS systems could provide information across the globe for trade in the process of moving goods from their source through production to the consumer. Take overland trucking, for example, sensors in every truck can relay vehicle health information back to a central IoT platform, any malfunctions can be detected and managed instead of breaking down in inconvenient places, causing delays. Preventative maintenance can even be scheduled en route or before a pickup of goods happens. The real-time data of products can be a great tool even for sensing the internal conditions of the goods themselves. The last thing that is wanted is a container full of grain to be full of water, and these sensors can identify these types of issues in real-time and alert you to any situations that arise (Smith, 2021). All of this can even be done remotely from across the globe, giving more oversight to the goods and their handling from anywhere (Velocity Global, 2018).
One of the major concerns about all of this connectedness and data collection is privacy and security. Experts say that many of these devices are not able to be patched or updated for any bad or hackable code, leaving them open to threats. And, depending on what sensors are in the device, this could have serious implications, like speakers that can record everything said or smartwatches that track location and movement. Security is not only a concern for consumers, but the security also extends to the IIoT technology that may even be running costly and dangerous industrial equipment and vehicles. Beyond the hacking implications, creators of IoT tech likely collect and sell the data for marketing or analytics uses (Corefield, 2021). Many governments across the world are trying to regulate and control the information and security of these products. They often warn of unintended problems that could have a major impact on companies and consumers who have chosen to embrace the technology and not fully consider the risks.
Many ND companies are creating smart technology that will integrate farms, medical equipment, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with a plethora of data collection tools all contributing to the IoT. Although many finer legal points will make headlines in the future, there are bright prospects for this type of integration globally. In the long term, we will likely see more transparency throughout the process of global trade if the technology is adopted and widespread.
Adams, T. (2021, August 26). Next Generation Supply Chain – Building The Circular Economy. Retrieved from Global Trade: https://www.globaltrademag.com/next-generation-supply-chain-building-the-circular-economy/
Corefield, G. (2021, August 23). European Commission Airs Out New IoT Device Security Draft Law – Interested Parties Have a Week to Weigh In. Retrieved from The Register: https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/23/eu_device_security_regulations_comment_period/
Global Smart Ports Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2026: Asia Pacific Forecast to Grow at Highest CAGR During 2021 to 2026. (2021, August 24). Retrieved from Yahoo Finance: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/global-smart-ports-market-analysis-080800257.html
Ranger, S. (2020, February 3). What is the IoT? Everything You Need to Know about the Internet of Things Right Now. Retrieved from ZDNet: https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-the-internet-of-things-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-iot-right-now/
Smith, D. (2021, October 18). Keep an Eye on IoT: The Future is Now When it Comes to Tech's Role in Supply Chain Management. Retrieved from Global Trade: https://www.globaltrademag.com/keep-an-eye-on-iot-the-future-is-now-when-it-comes-to-techs-role-in-supply-chain-management/
Velocity Global. (2018, August 20). How the Internet of Things will Impact Global Business. Retrieved from Velocity Global: https://velocityglobal.com/blog/industry-news-how-the-internet-of-things-will-impact-global-business/