Last edited 08 Jul 2016

Internet of things

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the application of unique identifiers to physical objects that enables them to be connected in a network allowing the transfer of data to and from those objects.

The ability to connect objects via the internet has existed since the 1980's, and the phrase 'Internet of Things' was first coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 who wrote; 'If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things - using data they gathered without any help from us - we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best'.

However, it is only with the recent growth of Internet Protocol (IP) address space (through the development of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6)), the emergence of wireless networks and the production of embedded technologies that can sense and communicate, that the potential of the internet of things has become truly realisable.

IoT objects can be people, animals, vehicles, plant, appliances, building components and so on. The allocation of an IP address to these objects means that they have the potential to communicate with other objects on the network (often machine-to-machine or M2M communication). Such objects are sometimes described as 'smart' objects, for example a smart meter, smart phone and so on.

Internet-enabled devices are influencing the development of manufacturing processes, communications technologies, energy distribution, transport networks, healthcare and so on.

The great number of components used in the construction and operation of buildings means that the potential for IoT application is very significant:

  • Asset management systems.
  • Building management systems.
  • Remote operation of appliances, plant, security systems and so on.
  • Energy use and conservation.
  • Monitoring equipment and diagnosing faults or prognosis of future potential problems.
  • Targeting maintenance activities.
  • Monitoring, ordering, directing and tracking resources such as materials, vehicles, plant and labour to maximise productivity.
  • Inventory control and storage management.
  • Building information management.
  • Knowledge management.
  • Condition monitoring for comfort, safety and efficiency.
  • Performance monitoring and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Preventing theft.
  • Obtaining up-to-date information for bid preparation.
  • Providing feedback on building behaviour to improve the accuracy of modelling, analysis and simulation techniques.
  • Verifying worker skills.
  • Payroll management.

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