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[Burning Issue] Internet of Things (IoT)

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Introduction

The Internet of Things (IoT) can become a game-changer that India needs as this concept is set to disrupt almost every sector in India from smart cities and telecom to manufacturing and mobility. The rapid development in the IoT leads to the starting of the next digital revolution. However, the Internet of Things throws up many challenges like data safety and privacy. So India needs to push ahead with this concept to kick-start the radical development process with the proper regulatory framework in place to govern IoT.

What is the Internet of Things?

  • IoT is the network of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that contain electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data.
  • IoT involves extending Internet connectivity beyond standard devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets to everyday objects.
  • These objects may be anything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices.
  • It can also be components of machines, for example, a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.
  • Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.
  • Thus, it is all about connecting devices over the internet and letting them ‘talk’ to us, applications, and each other.
  • However, the Internet of Things doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the internet; it can also be a network of things.

Advantages of IoT

  • Monitor Data: It helps us know the precise quantity of supplies or the air quality in home, it can also provide more data that could not have previously been possible to collect easily. For instance, monitoring the expiration of products will improve safety.
  • Ease of Access: Right now, one can easily gain the required information in real-time, from almost any location. It only takes a smart device and an internet connection. Example using Google Maps to see our location, instead of asking a person in real life.
  • Speedy Operation: All this data pouring in enables us to complete multiple tasks with amazing speed. For example, IoT makes automation effortless. Smart industries automate repetitive tasks, thus allowing employees to invest their time and effort into more challenging things.
  • Adapting to New Standards: As IoT is an ever-changing topic, its changes are minimal compared to the other techs of the high-tech world. Without IoT, it would be complicated for us to keep track of all the latest things.
  • Better Time Management: IoT is a clever time-saving tool. We can look up the latest news on our phones during our daily commute, or check a blog about our favourite pastime, purchase an item in an online shop, we can do almost all the things from the palm of our hands.
  • Automation and Control: Without human interference, the machines are communicating with each other providing faster and timely output.
  • Saving Money: Another main advantage of IoT is saving money. If the cost of the tagging and monitoring machines are less compared with the amount of money saved, this is the reason for the Internet of Things being very widely adopted.
  • Allowing the data to be communicated and shared between devices and then translating it into our required way, makes our systems efficient.

Applications of Internet of Things

(1) Daily Lives

  • There can be several IoT examples in our day-to-day lives.
  • For instance, a person returning home after his office hours can call his coffee-maker to make the coffee ready when he reaches home.
  • IoT can be used to water the plants of the garden whenever the moisture level falls below a certain limit.
  • We can utilize IoT to convert a normal home into a smart home. It can be used in energy efficiency in homes and office places.

(2) Industry

  • IoT’s effects may vary from industry to industry based on its utilization.
  • In the manufacturing sector, IoT can be utilized to enhance performance, minimize human-induced errors and consequently improve the overall quality of the manufactured products.
  • In the IT sector, utilization of IoT can result in improvement in services, development of more advanced software and digital services, etc.

(3) Agriculture

  • IoT can be utilized to collect data about rainfall, soil moisture, soil nutrients, pest infestation, etc.
  • It can assist in making informed decisions to increase agricultural production as well as reducing the risks of crop failures etc.
  • It can help make agriculture profitable with better price-discovery for farmers through smart techniques.

(4) Healthcare

  • Medical practitioners and doctors can use IoT to remotely monitor the patient’s health.
  • Smart beds can detect when the patient is trying to get up, his abnormal activities, etc.
  • Specialized sensors for senior citizens can be developed with the help of IoT.
  • Wearable heart monitors can help monitor the heartbeats, blood pressure of patients, etc.
  • It can revolutionize telemedicine applications.

(5) Media

  • Corporate media houses can utilize IoT to monitor consumer habits for the purpose of behavior targeting = display consumer-specific advertisements. They can utilize Big Data and Data Mining for this purpose.

(6) Transportation

  • IoT can be used in driverless cars and improve intra-vehicular communication to reduce accidents and traffic jams etc.
  • We can use it for electronic toll collections, smart parking, smart traffic management, etc.
  • IoT can be useful in logistics, fleet management, safety assistance, etc.

(7) Smart cities

  • IoT can be utilized in solid waste management systems to improve the cleanliness of the city.
  • Smart meters and power grids can improve energy efficiency and reduce transmission loss.
  • IoT can be used to track the air pollution levels in the cities and give a warning when it breaches the prescribed safety levels.
  • IoT can also be used to develop smart transportation systems to minimize congestion in the cities.

(8) Smart Retail

  • IoT provides an opportunity to retailers to connect with the customers to enhance the in-store experience. Interacting through Smartphones and using Beacon technology can help retailers serve their consumers better.
  • They can also track consumers’ paths through a store and improve store layout and place premium products in high traffic areas.

(9) Energy Engagement

  • Power grids of the future will not only be smart enough but also highly reliable.
  • The basic idea behind the smart grids is to collect data in an automated fashion and analyze the behavior or electricity consumers and suppliers for improving efficiency as well as the economics of electricity use.
  • Smart Grids will also be able to detect sources of power outages more quickly and at individual household levels like a nearby solar panels, making possible distributed energy systems.

What is the case with India?

  • IoT is the natural evolution of the internet and has many benefits including boosting global economies, improving public utilities, and increasing efficiencies.
  • Many of our global counterparts have already begun reaping the rewards of investing in IoT-based infrastructure.
  • The Indian government outlined a plan to leverage IoT as part of the Digital India mission.
  • The Indian IoT market is expected to reach $15 billion by 2020 and constitute 5% of the global market.
  • Investing in IoT will boost our economy on par with global leaders and it will also bring in investments, create jobs and improve Indian public infrastructure

What are the measures taken by the government to promote IoT?

  • The central government launched a plan to utilize IoT as part of the Digital India mission.
  • The government came up with the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 to satisfy the modern realities of the telecom such as 5G technology, IoT, Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, etc.
  • The government also allowed 100% FDI in the telecom sector. This will help in the development and growth of the IoT.
  • Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) has published a draft policy for IoT. The target is to establish an IoT market of USD 15 billion by 2020 and having a share of 5-6% in the global IoT industry.

Challenges with the IoT

  • Data Breach: Having access to data is excellent. Unfortunately, our personal data is more exposed.
  • Dependence on Technology: IoT is mainly dependent on the internet connection. When there is none, it can’t be used.
  • Complexity in Operation: IoT may seem to be managing tasks with ease, a lot of complex operations are done behind it. If by mistake the software makes a wrong calculation, this will affect the rest of the process.
  • Our Safety: As all the household appliances, industrial machinery, public sector services and many other devices all are connected to the Internet, a lot of information is available on it. This information is prone to attack by hackers. It would be very disastrous if private and confidential information is accessed by unauthorized intruders.
  • Inter Compatibility: As devices from various manufacturers will be interconnected to each other, the issue of compatibility in tagging and monitoring increases. This disadvantage can be overcome if manufacturers make a common standard, but there is still a possibility that the technical problems may still persist.
  • Lesser Employment of Menial Staff: The uneducated workers and helpers may lose their jobs as an effect of automation of daily activities. This can lead to unemployment in the society.
  • Technology Takes Control of Life: Our lives are increasingly controlled by technology and will be dependent on it. The younger generation is already addicted to technology for every little work to be done.

How is IoT impacting the digital transformation of education?

  • Tracking movement: Integrated systems of IoT, which automatically transmit information about the child boarding the bus, the bus reaching the school, and the child entering the school premises, can be available to both parents and teachers via an app and automated messages.
  • Attendance system: Teachers and faculty members need not waste time on roll call. Instead, the student’s identity card automatically communicates with the sensors in the classroom and marks attendance.
  • Automatic sharing: Taking notes and marking critical points is an integral part of a student’s class activity. But, with IoT, all the contents on the black/whiteboard is automatically converted into a portable document and shared over email.
  • Session capture: An IoT environment automatically captures a classroom session (audio and video) and puts it on a shareable drive. This can be accessed by those students who missed the class. This way learning becomes both inclusive and accessible.
  • Ensuring security: With COVID-19 still doing the rounds, an IoT-based system integrated with CCTVs can scan the campus and spot people who are not wearing masks. The coordinates can be sent as an SMS and an email to the administrative authority for further action.
  • Read and translate: IoT can also be used to quickly scan editable text from books, papers, and other documents directly into a phone, tablet or computer and translate into more than 40 languages.

Way forward

  • IoT makes life easier at the cost of privacy and hence Data Protection Bill can do a lot well in ensuring the privacy of an individual.
  • Policy-makers, regulators, device manufacturers, supporting industries, and service providers will all have to join hands in creating a safer space online.
  • In India, the NDCP (National Digital Communications Policy) brought alignment from critical stakeholders to advance India’s infrastructure and security around digital communications.
  • The draft IoT policy seeks to establish committees to govern and drive IoT-specific initiatives. It is not yet clear how much access to personal data these committees get and how their actions will be monitored.
  • The Justice Srikrishna Committee had recommended some provisions for personal data protection including a consumer’s right to information, consent, and right to request companies to erase their data if preferred.

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