Internet of Things (IoT) the latest buzz word in technology; new to some technical enthusiasts in Nigeria but to some an unrealistic technology that Nigerians may not embrace. Recently, I watched an interview conducted in a Nigerian University. The interviewer asked the student if he had heard about the technology "Internet of Things"; and the student replied saying "Internet I know, Things i know; however, i dont know about the of". Suddenly, it dawned on me, that there is a wide technology gap between Nigeria students and their western counterparts. Our country needs committed IoT technical evangelists to spread this popular buss word!
What is IoT?
The phrase "Internet of Things" was first coined by a British technologist named Kevin Ashton in 1999. He described how data captured by humans would lead to a revolution once computers start generating and collecting data by themselves without human input.
"Internet" as used in IoT is the network of devices that are connected together and communicating with each other to perform certain tasks without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
"Things" is any device that can be embedded with electronic, software, sensors to communicate with other devices. A thing m IoT can be a person with a heart monitor implant, an automobile that has built in sensors to alert the driver when the tire pressure is low.
The Internet of Things is not just about connecting devices to the internet, but also making sense of the "things" that are connected. For example, a connected car automatically reads data from other devices or "thing" and gives you information like real time traffic system. The Internet of Things (IoT) is opening up a world of real opportunities and making life easier and smarter. Today the IoT encompasses more than 14 billion things connected to the internet. The IoT is seen to have the potential to be much larger than the internet itself. According to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, it recently predicted that over 50 billion things will be connected to the internet by 2020. (source: Cisco IBSG, April 2011).
Towards a Smart Nigeria
In Nigeria, we have increasingly deployed digital systems to improve our way of life. However, many of this digital systems lack intelligence and analytics. By embracing the Internet of Things, we can benefit from its numerous applications such as smart traffic systems, smart buildings, smart plugs, smart electric meters, smart water meters and many more
Presently, our street lights are manually powered on/off and without an operator the streets will be in darkness, hampering movement. Thus, the deployment of IoT components, will give a smarter and Automatic Street Light system. E.g. the street lights can be automatically switched on when the light intensity is lower than a threshold.
Smart Waste Management system will send information to waste control agencies giving real-time information about the status of the waste bin leading to efficient waste collection schedule.
A Fall Detection system can be deployed to assist medical consultants or care homes monitor the well-being of the elderly and know when there is a fall or accident.
In Smart Farming, farmers can receive precise information on current weather, slope of land, soil moisture, sunshine exposure, chemicals and other conditions which can affect crop growth positively or negatively.
A Smart Flood Detection system can be deployed to monitor water level variations in rivers, dams and reservoirs which will help determine the chances of flooding and ensure proper flood defenses are put in place.
In Summary, Internet of Things has been proven to boost health, agriculture, finance, education, manufacturing, security and energy of a given economy. We hope Nigeria and West Africa will embrace this new emerging technology.