It seems like every week there is new terminology in the world of tech. Keeping up sometimes feels like you’re on a game show – like you’re prepping for your guest appearance on Jeopardy. The impact of technology on our lives has been substantial and it’s only beginning. Just think of how much things have changed since the first iPhone was released in 2007. And, there’s more on the horizon – with one of the most sweeping being the wide-spread investment and adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Many Environmental, Health, Safety and Quality professionals we’ve spoken to recently have asked us for more information on IoT, so we’ve put together this handy primer on what the Internet of Things is and how we can expect it to transform how we work.
The Internet of Things: What Is It?
The Internet of Things is simply a network of Internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data. At its heart is a connected sensor which links the device to the Internet commonly using a smartphone via a mobile app or a desktop computer using its web browser.
By 2025, the Internet of Things promises to have a sweeping impact on our lives by connecting over 55B devices.
IoT is having a meaningful impact on our lives – from home to the workplace.
In everyday home applications, IoT allows for the control of a device – whether that be a refrigerator, alarm system, lighting, thermostat, home assistant (Google Home or Amazon Echo), video monitor for your children’s room or front door, water sprinklers, and many, many more. They promise to make our lives smoother, more efficient, and more robust. Advancements in personal health are promising with IoT devices for health monitoring such as the FitBit or blood glucose screening for diabetics. Through IoT, we’ll be able to tailor, tweak and extend our resources to the benefit of our family, friends, and community.
IoT and EHSQ
As an EHSQ professional, chances are, your organization is either adopting, actively piloting or investigating how IoT devices can be used. Commercial uses for IoT devices – and specifically Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – are driving connections that allow for the:
- sensing of a device which leads to…
- the analysis of its data to allow…
- actions that drive efficiency, productivity and/or improve worker safety
For EHSQ professionals, IoT allows for the connection and automation of devices that control, monitor and measure temperature, air quality, machine maintenance, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as body and external temperature monitors, telemetry (automotive) devices, beacons to prevent accidents, noise monitors, fatigue monitors, etc. Leveraging these devices and the data they provide allow you to advance worker safety and environmental compliance, improve product quality, and drive organizational efficiencies.
IoT in Action
Let’s look at an example of IoT in action – in this case, we’ll focus on an employee in a chemical manufacturing environment. An IoT deployment could be a worker equipped with IoT-enabled devices like smart glasses and smart badges. Imagine these are integrated with enterprise IoT applications such as equipment maintenance. Together, the data is transmitted to the Cloud where it is processed and analyzed to ensure environmental compliance, workforce planning and more. The data and insights are then sent to the EHSQ professional to empower them to improve their policies and programs.
Technology in the home and workplace continues to come at us at lightning speed and it isn’t going to stop. If we had to again choose from Jeopardy’s “Changing Technology” category for $400, who would have thought the answer to the biggest change facing product delivery transportation today would be, “What is the self-driving truck?” This only reinforces that a world of interconnected devices isn’t far from reality.
Check out the results from our 2018 EHSQ Technology Trends Survey to learn more about the game-changing technologies poised to have a big impact on your program’s performance.