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Bringing IoT to life

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There has been a recurring challenge that I’ve faced numerous times over the past three years:

how do you describe the Internet of Things (IoT) to someone that has no idea what it’s about?

From friends and family, to children and city workers; how do you explain the massive potential that IoT could have on the world?

I was reminded recently how the power of storytelling, and capturing the imagination is such an effective way to describe what could be an overly-technical topic.

Everyday challenges, such as road safety, air pollution and diabetes help highlight the need for change and the impact transformative digital and enabling technologies - such as IoT, artificial intelligence and robotics – could have.

This is why we work with:

to help deliver applied IoT programmes and research in our cities and healthcare environments.

Demonstrating how IoT can connect a city

Manchester corridor by Ordnance Survey, as part of CityVerve project
Manchester corridor by Ordnance Survey, as part of CityVerve project

Cityverve is a great example of collaboration in a city with a purpose and was the winning application in the £10m Internet of Things Cities Demonstrator competition that focused on people-, city- and environment-led outcomes.

They have focused on four themes that capture everyday life in a metropolitan area:

  • travel and transport
  • energy and the environment
  • health and social care
  • culture and public realm

that allow people to experience IoT through sensing trams for safety, air quality monitoring, more energy efficient buildings and proactive monitoring of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Learn more about CityVerve's project.

“Successful IoT” becomes invisible to end users

Indeed, truly “successful IoT” becomes invisible to end users – it just becomes part of the normal way of living, working, traveling and socialising.

Using IoT to deal with diabetes & dementia life challenges

In the UK, an estimated 3.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes and approximately 850,000 are suffering with dementia.

In 2015, NHS England and The Department of Health ran a competition to find a series of test beds, with £10m committed to IoT-led initiatives.

The two winners, Diabetes Digital Coach (DDC) and Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM), are using wearables, intelligent appliances, discreet sensors and powerful analytics to understand and help address the challenges that these people, their families, loved ones and carers are facing. This will lead to an improved level of care and quality of life for those suffering from diabetes and dementia.

Is IoT the answer to all our problems?

No. But it has the power to disrupt many sectors and industries for the better and in more ways that we have so far realised, by providing insights and understanding of the world around us.

We need visionaries, story tellers, and everyday people to help share and spread its potential.


Follow me on Twitter @JonnyVoon

I am speaking at SmartIoT London 2017 on both the 15th and 16th of March. Come see me, as well as Cityverve, TIHM, DDC, Innovate UK, IoTUK and others in the middle of the IoT zone.

You can follow Innovate UK on:

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  1. Comment by Alan Brook posted on

    More generic waffle!! How will it make a difference to the man in the street? Who will pay (obviously the man in the street(!) but how much!? What does he/she get for the extra? Why can't that be done in other ways? Typical IT head in the clouds (real ones not some server farm burning power in the third world)... just because you can doesn't mean you should!! Your toaster doesn't need to talk to your kettle!!

  2. Comment by Melody Spencer posted on

    Great article. The new technology trends are going beyond laptops and smartphones to connected cars and smart cow. A recent study shows that there will be approximately 1.0 trillion connected devices by 2023. That’s exactly 5 years from now. So, the popularity of IoT will be gaining tremendous importance in the coming years.  According to Geoff Mulgan “As the Internet of things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways.” IoT is applicable for any universal problem. It is not limited by any engineering theory 

    IoT is there, from small business to smart pills. Almost every field like agriculture, education, retail, has started to accommodate smart technologies. The advantage of IoT in today’s healthcare is really valuable. IoT is now widely used to support diseases like Parkinson syndrome, dementia, diabetes, heart problems etc. Disease management is now super easy with IoT.  

    Monitoring systems is one of the major applications of IoT in healthcare, especially for elderly care. It is an integrated system with all patient health monitoring devices integrated together. It has brought in major changes especially in the patient health analysis and diagnosis. Following is a case study of one such monitoring system based on IoT and you can see that how this has helped the service providers and patients together ( ). Now in Europe and many other countries, similar monitoring system are implemented throughout the healthcare system, and the change is already evident.