The Road Ahead is Brighter Than Ever for IoT

Despite the turbulent economic climate, 2022 has been a year in the making for Internet of Things (IoT). It is continuing to pave the way for ’Smart Places’, helping to create greener, safer and healthier environments across the UK.

It is quickly becoming a disruptive market, with 31 out of 32 local authorities in Scotland having access to an IoT network and ready to deploy IoT devices and sensors across its communities is truly remarkable. From intelligent lighting solutions to smart waste collection, we are rapidly enhancing the efficiency and capabilities of towns and cities through the power of smart technology.

Last month, I was encouraged to hear that a first-of-its-kind course in IoT has been launched in colleges in Ayrshire and the Borders with a pilot starting in the 2023-24 term. This truly underlines where Scotland sees the direction that IoT is heading and the role it will play in shaping the country’s future.

In Wales, 2022 has been progressive with the Welsh Government establishing funding initiatives to enable IoT gateways and networks to get up and running. Whilst not quite on the same scale as Scotland’s IoT Network, established by North and the Scottish Government in 2018, there has been a significant infrastructure upgrade which will create powerful opportunities for the year ahead.

Making similar progress, the UK Government also published a policy paper titled Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data which set out a decisive plan to ensure we leverage the power of digital technology and IoT to achieve a more efficient and sustainable future.

However, just as we’re gaining momentum, we face challenges. The multi-million pound funding cuts that have been made to public sector services will leave local authorities with significant budget gaps and subsequently may impact the investment into the acceleration of IoT.

That said, I am confident that many local authorities will adopt spend to save initiatives, as they realise the commercial benefit technology holds in the longer-term. For example, by investing in smart sensors in the home that can monitor damp and humidity, this will help to both future proof the quality of available housing stock and save on repair bills that spiral when issues are left to worsen unknowingly. Technology also enables efficiency and I am hopeful that many local authorities will take a forward-looking approach, rather than solely focusing on spending for the immediate future.

2023 will be a landmark year for the use of IoT in both the housing and social care sectors. Whilst we’ve already seen momentous leaps forward in the use of smart technology in housing, particularly by registered social landlords and associated local authorities, 2023 will see a rapid expansion of its use across the country. I am hopeful that as we progress, IoT will start to be considered from the outset of designing new-build homes rather than the retrofit approach we currently have to take.

To date, we haven’t yet seen a large-scale deployment of IoT in social care settings but I am confident that this is about to change. Using technology to keep people in their own homes safely for longer and to prevent the need for them to go into sheltered housing or care homes, in my opinion is a no-brainer. Equally, through the use of smart tech in homes, hospitals can discharge people with the confidence that they are going back into an environment that has the right conditions and support if required.

IoT will play a pivotal role in the future of the social care and importantly, will enable many people to retain their independence through its low-cost and versatile design as well as the real-time data captured by devices. We can help people by making data driven decisions, rather than using a foundation based on speculation.

We have only but started the conversation around sustainability and how smart technology can accelerate our journey to a greener future. COP27 emphasised the importance of digital solutions in achieving climate mitigation, with smart tech having the potential to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth by the end of the decade. North is speaking to organisations across the manufacturing, education and construction sectors about how we can help their sustainability efforts, with our pipeline of work in this area set to grow significantly in 2023 and beyond.

Sensor technology brings about real-time insight and greater trend analysis of data. Combine this with the vast expertise within organisations, and we can confidently make better decisions for the future.