Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two of the most discussed tech topics of late, and the progress of each eggs the other on; as the increasing amount of information collected due to an expanding range of IoT devices bulks up Big Data stores, so Big Data and Big Data analytics influences the designs and developments of new IoT sensors and mechanisms. Often working hand in hand, IoT and Big Data are changing our lives in big and small ways across a variety of sectors from healthcare management, to education approaches, to marketing and advertising.
The Elementary Connection
IoT, a quickly expanding compilation of internet-connected sensors, involves the multiple measurements obtained by device sensors which track our daily lives. These measurements are the Big Data so coveted today, large amounts of both structured and unstructured information typically obtained in real-time. It is important, however, to recognise that not all Big Data holds equal value and the tools used to process it play a significant role in the final value. To get the best out of IoT and the Big Data it collects, organizations struggle to access high-value and relevant data that is current, reflecting an adequately-sized information footprint, and able to provide necessary insights through analysis. This is easier said than done, and so far much of the data we collect isn’t able to give us considerable value.
What a Lot We’ve Got
Gartner predicted 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ would be in use in 2016, and expects this number to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, Gartner contends, 5.5 million new things will be connected each day. With the cost of sensor technology steadily decreasing, as well as developments in low-power hardware and spreading wireless connectivity, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such an explosion of IoT devices. On the other hand, there was really no shortage of Big Data before IoT technology became popular, and analysts predicted in 2012 that we’d see our digital universe, the digital data created, replicated, and consumed in one year, doubling every two years to reach 40 zettabytes by 2020. This enormous number has since been revised by some to approximately 10% higher than the original prediction. An even more astounding prediction came from Cisco, estimating that data generated from Internet of Everything devices (including people-to-people, machine-to-people, and machine-to-machine connections) would hit 403 zettabytes by 2018.
Big Data & IoT Disruptions
Such enormous quantities easily leave one feeling overwhelmed, and though it’s fairly obvious that Big Data and IoT will be disrupting our landscape, it’s almost too much to comprehend. Luckily for us, some brilliant data scientists and developers have simplified the processes for us and by implementing effective tools we’re seeing the positive outcomes in improved global visibility, more efficient and intelligent operations, and improved market agility and business systems through real-time information and insight.
The realm of influence of Big Data and IoT is already large, but to effectively meet expectations a few challenges will have to be dealt with. Standardisation is one area with no clear solution as the increasing number of devices comes with a growth in the applications and programs required to operate devices and analyse collected data; most IoT devices don’t work together, and their manufacturers are hesitant to join forces with competitors. Furthermore, we’re still waiting for a single framework which allows devices and applications to securely exchange data. Suggests OneM2M, “The emerging need for interoperability across different industries and applications has necessitated a move away from an industry-specific approach to one that involves a common platform bringing together connected cars, healthcare, smart meters, emergency services, local authority services and the many other stakeholders in the ecosystem.” Further barriers include concerns for privacy and security of data, as well as relevant skill sets and practical analytics tools.
The Big Data and IoT connection continues to grow and develop, and though not yet delivering everything we’re hoping for, it’s possible to see just how influential these two spheres will be in our future lives.
By Jennifer Klostermann