Prior to the pandemic, Internet of Things (IoT) technology was steadily spreading in the business community. When the pandemic struck, it created more urgency to accelerate the adoption of IoT. Many companies began opening up remote work, which helped countless businesses survive. Here’s a deeper look at how the pandemic affected smart technology networks connected with billions of IoT devices.
Industries Using IoT
Early adopters of IoT technology included utilities, manufacturers, logistics firms and healthcare organizations. These industries initially aimed to cut costs in favor of more sustainable solutions. They embrace smart technology, which includes IoT as well as various forms of AI. Robots and automation are part of this mix, which are both useful for social distancing and mitigating labor shortages.
IoT devices strategically placed throughout a company’s infrastructure report real-time data to a central database. Analysts are able to view a wide range of company data through online portals. This big data has helped water utilities identify and cut water leaks much faster, while it has similarly helped power companies overcome power losses.
Since the pandemic shut down schools and college campuses, eLearning has become a solution through online classes. IoT sensors can collect a wide range of interactive data over IT networks that can then be monitored and analyzed by administrators. As much as schools and other organizations need this powerful technology, many are hesitant to invest big money in it due to financial constraints caused by the pandemic.
Many people’s lifestyles changed as a result of the pandemic, as employees commonly either began working from home or quit their jobs to reassess their goals. IoT devices integrated with apps have been the key to maintaining steady workforces to provide innovations such as:
- Remote asset control
- Workforce tracking
- Online collaboration
A big question many companies that are holding out on smart technology have relates to ROI. Many small companies simply don’t have the budgets to invest in expensive technology while larger companies want to see more success stories.
Healthcare providers have used telemedicine for many years, in which patients attend doctor meetings by phone. But due to the pandemic filling up hospitals and a labor shortage, it was necessary for hospitals to quickly shift to telemedicine. This concept has expanded to include online self-help and video conferencing.
Hospitals are recommending an increasing number of IoT-driven wearable devices for remote monitoring of biological data. Another innovation is the use of voice technology to communicate data. Vocalis, for example, is designing a healthcare app that detects Covid-19 symptoms through voice signals. Another use of IoT has been for the testing and tracing of Covid-19.
One of the main reasons for IoT revenue growth the past few years has been due to usage in the healthcare sector. Global Data forecasts revenue from wearables is expected to rise to $64 billion by 2024.
Modern homes are now increasingly designed with smart technology, such as smart meters that measure energy or water usage. Smart homes will likely become more connected with smart workplaces as several major tech corporations have announced they will continue remote work even in the post-pandemic era. Some of these companies include Microsoft, Twitter and Square. A recent Gartner study found that 74 percent of CFOs are looking at remote work as a long-term solution. IoT devices integrated into homes will contribute to work at home becoming more comfortable.
Various innovations can be found in smart buildings from smart HVAC systems for cleaner indoor air quality to smart thermostats that can be controlled remotely with an app. These innovations make it easy and practical to monitor building data in real time to pinpoint physical vulnerabilities such as air leaks.
The rise of smart cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore has been a result of aggressive investments in emerging technologies such as IoT, automation, AI and 5G. The payoff is that these cities are more prepared to handle widespread disasters better than traditional cities. Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint in 2017 provided details on its goals toward more livable and sustainable cities. As a result, the city was able to respond more quickly to the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, China has implemented its SkyNet project, in which over 20 million cameras have been installed to monitor densely populated areas. Other nations have embraced more privacy-aware monitoring solutions drawing from radars and LIDARs. Thermal cameras that detect fever grew by over 80 percent from 2020 to 2021. Tools used for social distancing and monitoring include camera-equipped drones.
Transportation and Logistics
Smart transportation technology is expected to become a $156 billion market by 2025. But the pandemic has slowed this development due to significantly less freight delivery and supply chain bottlenecks. Public transportation has also declined due to social distancing concerns.
Meanwhile, the logistics market is expected to grow this decade due to the rising demand for IoT in warehousing and delivery services. The world’s largest logistics firm, XPO Logistics, has pioneered new features such as enhanced inventory precision and contactless delivery. During the pandemic, the industry has emphasized cold chain logistics, which mixes smart technology and processes to ensure perishable products such as vaccines are transported at a safe temperature.
The industrial sector has already gone far with smart technology, setting new standards and paving new directions for other businesses to follow. A recent McKinsey study found that 93 percent of supply chain and manufacturing professionals are preparing to embrace smart and resilient solutions. Juniper Research projects that the number of industrial IoT (IIoT) sensors in use will reach nearly 37 billion by 2025.
Due to the tremendous strain the pandemic put on society and businesses of all sizes, many companies are looking to adopt IoT and other smart technology. The need for real-time remote data monitoring will help bring society back together. It will be the key to a more sustainable business and cultural landscape in the post-pandemic world.