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The Need For Standards For The Internet Of Things

by Ken Sinclair

Our personal use of smart phones and other BYOD of choice, the cloud, plus the rapidly evolving Wi-Fi services everywhere greatly increases our personal understanding of the power of IoT.  The magnitude of this "I of Me" movement is highlighted in this article “The Internet of Things: Are You Ready?”  by Steve Phillips, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Avnet, Inc.

"When the news broke in January that Google was buying Nest Labs, Inc. for $3.2 billion, the eye-popping valuation indicated the acquisition was about more than just pretty thermostats and smoke detectors. While speculation about Google's intentions has run rampant since then, in my mind it's a clear sign: the Internet of Things (IoT) is finally upon us.

“Google's mission is to ‘organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ With humans making up less than half the world's Internet traffic today—according to one estimate, we only accounted for 38.5 percent of traffic in 2013, down from 49 percent in 2012—it's clear that the world's information will increasingly be created by machine, not humans.”

Several great articles in our November issue of AutomatedBuildings.com support these thoughts and cry for standards to make this all happen.

"Standardizing the Internet of Things:  Boiling the Ocean" by Jim Sinopoli, PE, LEED AP, Smart Buildings LLC. From this article come these words of wisdom:

"One of the primary issues for the IoT is the scramble to create standards. The IoT obviously needs standards because: (1) we want devices to interoperate, (2) we want the devices to communicate globally, (3) standards could potentially lower costs for IoT deployment through economies of scale, reducing costs for manufacturers, operators, and consumers, and (4) standards could also be part of generating satisfied customers. In this scenario potential customers will know that standards bodies and major technology companies have made it easy and transparent regarding the deployment and operation of their devices. That kind of confidence would result in increased sales, and finally (5) worldwide standards could also mean enabling global markets to help eliminate or reduce trade barriers.

"Without IoT standards for communication and interoperability, we end up with confusion or potential customers having to select proprietary devices by a company or consortium. If that is the case the larger market is not the actual IoT devices but rather the market for middleware and gateways, the glue between all the disparate devices.

"Given the lofty expectations for the IoT, multiple organizations are creating and proposing standards on how devices connect and communicate. The organizations include standard bodies or associations. Other organizations are alliances or consortiums, created from commercial vendors, some of which may partner, and others that may compete.

"There is a utopian idea that all the devices will be able to communicate despite different manufacturers or operating systems, with all the devices broadcasting to other devices in some common language. That may work if there is one standard. However, when you have multiple guidelines, you don’t have a standard."

Please read the complete article.

The following article offers more discussion of the structure of data. Be sure to read complete article and view the powerful graphics:

The Cutting-Edge of IoT: How does the IoT really change the future of commercial building operations?  by Therese Sullivan, Principal, BuildingContext Ltd.

"The model breaks down into seven functional levels the dozens of technologies that, all combined, comprise the IoT: Devices send and receive data interacting with the Network where the data is transmitted, normalized, and filtered using Edge Computing before landing in Data storage / Databases accessible by Applications which process it and provide it to people who will act and collaborate. The IoT Reference Model emphasizes Edge Computing — all the processing that is expected to happen at the 'Thing' level, that is, among all the physical devices and controllers that now have microprocessors to 'think' and radios to 'talk' to one another."

It is important that we all work to increase our “I o Me” to include the understanding of what is necessary to make this all work and create value to us, our industry, lives, and well-being.

Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com on what is new in the Internet of Things (IOT) for building automation.

Part 1: Understanding the Impact of the Internet of Things: The "I of Me"

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posted on 11/6/2014