Nowadays, we are used to connecting headphones to our mobile phone via Bluetooth, activating the physical alarm clock using our mobile phone or even going to the gym and connecting our mobile Netflix account with the elliptical bike so we can watch our favorite series while we do sport. However, did you know that this is known as the internet of things?
It must be borne in mind that the idea of interconnected objects is not new to this era. Its origin is located at the end of the XIX century, specifically in 1874, with the first telemetry experiment recorded in history. French scientists installed devices to collect meteorological information and measure the snow volume of Mont Blanc (highest peak in the French Alps) and transmit the information by short radio waves to Paris. If we forward in time, already in the 20th century, different countries such as Russia or the United States, favored the growth of telemetry through communication technologies. You can draw attention that there is a direct relationship between the evolution of telemetry and the evolution of communication, but what is telemetry and how does it relate to the Internet of Things?
We understand telemetry as the technology that allows remote measurement of one physical magnitude and the subsequent sending of the measured information to an operator; while the idea of being able to connect objects and that they were intelligent is what is known as the “internet of things” (IoT in short form). These concepts were already reflected in the scientific thoughts and writings of Nikola Tesla or Alan Turing in the 20th century, but it was not until 1999 when Kevin Ashton first used this term. However, what prompted its development and subsequent application in daily life? To understand it, we need to do a little memory of how our live have changed as the internet has evolved.
The evolution of the internet can be divided, in broad strokes, into four phases (Hanes et al., 2017)(Fig. 1):
- 1st PHASE: access to content. Objectives such as the creation of the Internet connection protocol (TCP / IP) and the birth of the World Wide Web (www) allowed people to access the digital world.
- 2nd PHASE: creation of services (web 2.0). As connections evolved, they allowed for better internet speed and a digital business infrastructure began to develop creating a networked economy. The companies began to develop in the digital world and offered their products to buy them on the internet.
- 3rd PHASE: connection between people (web 3.0). This phase consists of the interaction of people with the digital world and, not only with the uprise of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, …) but with the possibilities offered by the internet to improve work and user experience with the creation of cloud services. In this phase, mobile networks begin to take center stage.
- 4th PHASE (currently). It consists of connecting objects via the Internet, also called the Internet of Things (IoT), and is associated with wireless telecommunication networks. The importance in this phase is that, for the first time, the communication that exists is from machine to machine.
Figure 1. Evolution of the internet and the associated commercial and social impact. Source: Hanes et al., 2017.
As we have been able to see, and to experience, if we had the opportunity, in a few years the internet has changed at a high speed and society has not been left out of this change. Currently, she is immersed in a new technological revolution and nothing can be done to stop it; We must make the most of this moment and ensure that it is used in a logical, ethical, and responsible manner.
At this point, we can ask ourselves what the Internet of Things (IoT) will offer society and where we are going? Well, the objective of the IoT is to connect what is not connected with the aim of generating new functionalities and new services aimed at improving people’s quality of life. Said in a simpler way, it tries to connect physical objects using the internet.
This technology is still being developed in the domestic sphere, but there are already companies like Apple and Google that are starting to create products with the aim of connecting home appliances to each other, such as Home Kit and Android @ Home. On the other hand, in the private sector it is getting more and more used. We can see some examples in the industry, where the machinery itself is in charge of controlling the production processes or there are temperature sensors to minimize the risk of fire, in the control of urban infrastructure (traffic lights, bridges and cameras…), environmental control (by monitoring environmental quality, earthquakes, meteorology…), health field (patient monitoring, internal air quality…), etc. Although it seems science fiction, in almost all commercial sectors, in the industry and in transport, Internet of Things applications are being used and it will be a matter of time that we see them in every aspect of our daily life.
The Terrassa city council has been implementing actions and policies that make up a “Smart City” in the field of technology, energy, environment and mobility for years; yet it takes a step forward and, in the Smart City Terrassa master plan 2015-2020 establishes three main objectives (Fig. 2):
- Establish a frame of reference to define the concept of Smart City.
- Define Terrassa’s own mission and vision as a Smart City.
- Determine the strategic objectives within the different fields of action and ongoing projects.
Figure 2. Objectives of the Smart City of Terrassa Master Plan. Source: image modified from City Hall, Smart City.
Currently, Terrassa has 3 major projects related to the Internet of Things, which are also related to each other: 1)Terrassa Smart Energy (TEI), 2)Intelligent Buildings – iBuildings and 3)Urban Resilience.
In future articles, we will talk about each one of the projects and explain what they consist of, their structure and the evolution of their implementation in our city. Even so, you can go the websites that we provide in this article or enter the Terrassa Participa portal, where we talk about the Smart buildings – iEdificis and Urban Resilience projects.
- AJUNTAMENT DE TERRASSA. SMART CITY (2020). Pla director Smart City [online]. Retrieved from: https://www.terrassa.cat/ca/pla-director-smart-city
- BRUNO CENDÓN. PENSAMIENTOS Y TECNOLOGIA (2017). El origen del IoT [online]. Retrieved from: http://www.bcendon.com/el-origen-del-iot/
- HANES, David; SALGUEIRO, Gonzalo; GOSSETETE, Patrick; BARTON, Robert i HENRY, Jerome. IoT Fundamentals: Networking Technologies, Protocols, and Use Cases for the Internet of Things. 1º ed. EUA: Cisco Pres, 2017. ISBN-13:
- HIPERTEXTUAL (2014). ¿Qué es y cómo funciona el Internet de las cosas? [online]. Retrieved from: https://hipertextual.com/archivo/2014/10/internet-cosas/
- ICEMD (2017). El internet de las cosas [online]. Retrieved from: https://www.icemd.com/digital-knowledge/articulos/internet-las-cosas-aplicaciones/
- SAP (2020). ¿Que es Internet de las Cosas (IoT)? [online]. Retrieved from: https://www.sap.com/latinamerica/trends/internet-of-things.html