“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
When asking what IoT sensors can do for your business operations, the above quote from Austrian-American business management consultant and author Peter Drucker comes to mind. The Internet of Things provides the means to collect accurate data from its point of origin – or many, many points of origin, depending on the application. IoT devices also provide the ability to collect data in an affordable fashion. How far can you go in measuring things and collecting good data from anywhere in the world?
Location and movement
Location and movement are two sides of the same coin applicable for large things like shipping containers down to smaller but more valuable items such as jet skis and motorcycles. Using IoT asset tracking, businesses want to know where mobile assets are at any time and if they have moved when they should be at a specific location. Lower-cost IoT tracking capabilities enabled by next-generation satellite tech open a broader range of assets to track on land and sea. For example, it isn’t cost-effective to track where every crab trap in Alaska is using a legacy satellite solution, but lower-cost sensors and service charges would make it possible, improving information both for commercial operators and natural resource managers.
But movement can be more subtle than moving an item from point A to point B. Affordable IoT satellite networks make it possible to deploy vibrational and motion sensors on a large scale to regions without terrestrial wireless connectivity. Using simple off-the-shelf sensors found in a cell phone, detecting irregular vibration along a pipeline can indicate a breach caused by an accident or due to theft. Climate change and natural events such as earthquakes and volcano eruptions move ice, lava, rocks, and soil to the detriment of roads, pipelines, bridges, and buildings. Being able to track both gradual and sudden earth movement with IoT sensors is more important than ever to protect lives and property and monitor the status of commercial and public infrastructure.
Environmental sensors provide information about the dynamically changing ecosystem around an asset, be it a boat at sea, a warehouse in the city, or a cabin in the woods. Light, temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and wind speed can provide critical information to protect lives and property, indicating if there are ready-made conditions for a potential wildfire – or a fire already in progress. Add soil moisture and a rain gauge sensor to provide detailed information for flood conditions at a specific location, enabling businesses and governments alike to prepare for the worst. Weather forecasts provide best estimates as to what might happen, but IoT sensors provide ground-truth data on what is happening at a specific location and the overall duration of the forces of nature.
Most importantly, IoT data doesn’t have to stand alone. It can (and should) be used as a part of a wider business picture to monitor operations and implement tasking based upon real-time information. For example, irregular vibration along a pipeline could automatically trigger alerts to an operation center, generating follow-up actions such as using a commercial satellite to take imagery of the area to look for evidence of an accident or piracy. Other indicators from IoT monitoring, such as a spike in temperature or loss of signal from a sensor out in the field can be used as an indicator that someone needs to take a closer look at what is going on in an area of interest.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it
Next-generation satellite tech provides IoT with global network coverage at a much more affordable price point than previous offering. The biggest challenge for businesses is figuring out which opportunities make the best sense for monitoring, be it machinery, infrastructure, vehicles, field operations, or “things” where more data provides insights for improvements