Internet of Things (IoT)

In this article, you can read all about the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is becoming increasingly important in the current times. This is a concept in the science and technology segment of the UPSC syllabus.

What is IoT?

  • IoT is the interlinking of digital devices, people, machines, appliances, and other objects with one another through wireless networks.
  • It allows machines and people to be connected to each other and communicate as well.
  • It is considered the future of the internet. This version of the internet is about data that is created by things.

Internet of Things Explained

  1. Any device that can be connected will be connected.
  2. Any device that can be switched on and off will be connected.
  3. Most of the connected devices will have an Internet Protocol (IP) address. With IPv6, billions of devices can be connected with ease.
  4. Things can be connected with IoT:
    • Connected Homes: interlinking of household appliances to the network.
    • Connected Wearables: smartphones, smartwatches, fitness bands, etc.
    • Connected Cars: vehicles connected to the network.
    • Connected Cities: smart meters that can analyze the usage of gas, water, electricity, etc.; connected traffic signals; smart bins, etc.
    • Different networks would be connected to each other, like as mentioned below:
      1. BAN (Body Area Network) – Wearables
      2. LAN (Local Area Network) – Smart Homes
      3. WAN (Wide Area Network) – Connected Cars
      4. VWAN (Very Wide Area Network) – Smart City

Internet of Things Applications

  • Daily life: IoT can be used to do small tasks in daily life such as coffee-making as soon as the owner of the house returns home, refrigerator indicating that vegetables need to be bought and/or ordering them automatically from the e-store, etc. It can also be used in offices.
  • Industry: IoT can be used to reduce human error, increase efficiency, and improve productivity, etc.
  • Agriculture: IoT can be used to improve overall productivity by having enhanced weather forecasting, soil nutrient content, pest infestation, etc.
  • Healthcare: there are several benefits to the medical industry. Better diagnosis of diseases, wearable monitors of vitals, sophisticated connected equipment, etc.
  • Transportation: IoT can be used on toll booths, traffic management, driverless cars, etc. It can also be used in fleet management, safety assistance, improved logistics, etc.
  • Media/Advertising: Companies can use IoT to analyze and predict consumer behavior and apply target marketing for better ROI in advertising/marketing campaigns, etc. Big data and data mining concepts can be used in this regard.
  • Smart Cities: IoT can be used to make cities better places to live. It can be applied in solid waste management, smart power grids, smart energy management systems, etc.
  • Government policies and services: the government can use IoT to offer better citizen services.

IoT in India

  • The government of India envisages using the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of the Digital India Mission.
  • The National Digital Communications Policy was launched in 2018 to develop and apply IoT, 5G technology, machine to machine (M2M) communication, etc.
  • The government also permitted 100% FDI in the telecom sector. This should also aid the development of IoT in India.
  • The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTY) also published a draft policy for IoT in India.
  • The government has set a target of USD 15 billion for the IoT market by the year 2020. This would be 5 – 6 % of the global IoT industry.

Internet of Things Challenges

  • Loss of jobs because of the replacement of humans with machines. Automation will naturally bring in job losses.
  • Safety and privacy is a challenge in this domain. There is the issue of selling personal data without users’ consent by internet/social media companies. Digital surveillance also poses a threat with smart homes being susceptible to privacy invasions. Further, there is also the problem of bank accounts being hacked, ransomware attacks, etc.

There is a need to have better regulation and policy frameworks for regulating and monitoring Internet of Things applications. Firewalls and safety software should be improved and data confidentiality should be a priority for all stakeholders.

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