Location intelligence is the glue that binds the massive amounts of data generated by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors using an easily identifiable context called ‘where’
From our GPS-enabled cellphones and car navigation systems to smart home and industrial devices, everything is connected online. Collectively, these internet-enabled devices are known as the Internet of Things or IoT. When IoT made its debut in the technology world, it was nothing more than a buzzword. But now that the hype is nearing a plateau, businesses are beginning to understand the full potential of the technology, making IoT emerge as a full-blown movement.
McKinsey believes IoT applications could have a $11 trillion worldwide economic impact by 2025. Gartner is convinced the number of objects connected to the Internet will cross the 20-billion mark in the next couple of years. And as these connected devices and sensors continue to grow in numbers, the data being captured by them is also increasing rapidly. Subsequently, extracting actionable insights and value from this mountain of data has become a major concern for both public and private organizations.
This is where location intelligence comes in. By using precise location data, organizations can harness the full potential of their IoT initiatives.
On its own, the massive amounts of information generated by IoT sensors can appear to be unrelated or disconnected. Location or spatial awareness is the glue that binds this information together by lending it an easily identifiable context called ‘where’. Because everything that happens, happens somewhere, underpinning the analysis of IoT data with location simplifies the explicit visualization of invaluable patterns and trends hidden in that data.
The intersection of IoT and location intelligence has led to sweeping improvements in the following industry segments:
Smart City Planning and Management
The key to a smart future lies in getting a clear sense of how our cities are working today. This is why local governments are increasingly relying on spatially-aware IoT sensors and mobile trace data to monitor urban environments like traffic flows and air quality in real time. By leveraging location intelligence to understand and anticipate traffic gridlocks, smart cities can plan for better public transportation or offer alternate routes to their citizens.
As another example, air pollution can be linked to highly-congested areas and a transparent picture of pollution hotspots can help municipalities to make better planning decisions to alleviate those issues as well.
Supply Chain and Logistics
Enterprises have been using GPS technology to track their delivery vans or trucks for some years now, but the supply chain ecosystem is so complex that simply knowing the estimated time of arrival of a delivery vehicle is just not enough. However, with IoT allowing packages to be fitted with sensors, manufacturers can easily monitor their assets right from the factory floor level down to the individual shelves or pallets where they need to be placed. Location-powered visualizations enable enterprises to gain real-time information into all levels of the supply chain and provide early intervention to minimize any losses arising from negative events like misplaced materials or an asset going missing altogether.
The retail industry is going through a quiet revolution with building sensors and beacons helping store owners understand the buying patterns of consumers. While on the consumer front, retailers are using this information to provide customers with a customized shopping experience – alerting them to their favorite products inside the store or providing personalized deals on often-bought goods – on the business front, things are much more interesting. Location intelligence is helping retailers to not only make better merchandising and logistics decisions but also plan for profitable new store locations.
When disaster strikes, insurance providers need to make sure they are present at the place they are needed the most. As such, location plays a central role in the data insurance companies require to help people out. When coupled with IoT, this data can prove to be even more useful. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, people acted as IoT sensors for insurance companies by updating geotagged flood information on social platforms like Snapchat. The Lower Colorado River Authority, meanwhile, is turning to IoT sensors to measure changes in water levels at different locations. If you know how fast the water is moving, you can predict what it may do next. And armed with this information, insurance companies can deploy their manpower and resources more judiciously while better assessing property-level risk.
Energy and Utilities
Energy and utility providers need to monitor their assets and equipment constantly to provide unhindered service to their customers. IoT-powered location intelligence is benefitting utilities in several ways. For example, the deployment of smart meters has helped Florida Power and Light (FPL) to save over $46 million in operational costs in 2015. Since the company could identify outage locations on-the-fly, field visits went down dramatically. Similarly, French water group Veolia is using IoT for predictive maintenance by constantly studying various location-based parameters like water flow, pressure, temperature, etc., for abnormalities.
To sum up, by adding the perspective of ‘where’ to raw data, location intelligence is adding actual, actionable value to the IoT network. By providing both context and proximity to data-driven decisions, the intersection of location intelligence with IoT has opened up a host of opportunities for both public and private sector, and converted IoT sensors into location-based solutions.
To learn more about how IoT and location intelligence can support your ability to work smarter, contact us.
Robert Szyngiel leads Product Management at DMTI Spatial, a Digital Map Products company. He provides strategy and guidance to the data and software teams to assemble innovative SaaS solutions that leverage DMTI Spatial’s 20-plus years of location intelligence intellectual property. For more information on DMTI Spatial, visit www.dmtispatial.com, and for information on Digital Map Products, visit www.digmap.com.