At this point everyone in the tech industry has undoubtedly heard the staggering forecasts around the Internet of Things. Most leading market analysis firms estimate that by 2021 there will be over 20 billion connected devices globally making up an IoT market worth over $2.5 trillion.
What is not as freely discussed, however, is just what constitutes that IoT market, and what that opportunity looks like in the public sector.
At its most basic level, the IoT is a network that connects devices and allows them to link and exchange data. One of the reasons for such high market estimates is because IoT is not a discrete technology like business applications, or infrastructure or even cybersecurity. Rather, it’s a wrapper that exists around all other technologies, enabling them to work together for a specific purpose.
Functionally, IoT is comprised of five major elements:
- The Edge: The devices, nodes, and sensors actually collecting data
- The Gateway: Either a physical device or software that allows data to flow from the edge to the platform; the gateway improves network performance and response times by analyzing data at the edge prior to transmission, thereby limiting the volume of data sent to the cloud
- The IoT Platform: The Cloud, but more; an IoT Platform is the operating environment, storage, computing power, and development tools that receive data from the gateway and then support applications and programs that users leverage
- Software Applications: Programs that users leverage to solve their business problems working with data stored in the IoT platform
- Cybersecurity: The tools that protect all the nodes/sensors/devices at the edge, and that protect the data as it’s transmitted through the gateway, platform, all the way to the user
Each element of IoT is necessary for the functioning of an end-to-end solution, and each element can behave as an independent market unto itself.
For example, today there are tens of thousands of devices users can choose from at the edge of their IoT environment, and there are thousands of gateways – but what good is the data that’s collected and processed if it doesn’t have a specialized platform to store and manage it?
Furthermore, what good does storing and managing data do if it can’t be secured and put to meaningful use? Thus, regardless of the element your company provides, it will be a necessity to any government agency attempting to implement an IoT solution.
THE MARKET OPPORTUNITY
While the public sector tends to lag behind the commercial world in terms of technological adoption, the U.S. government has made surprisingly large strides in taking advantage of IoT to improve its mission effectiveness.
For years, the Department of Agriculture has used an array of sensors to monitor precipitation, soil acidity, crop production and tree health. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has used smart buoys to monitor weather conditions at sea. State and local governments have equipped their law enforcement officers with wearables like body cameras, and cities have implemented gunshot detectors on street corners to improve police and medical response times when necessary.
And as far back as 2013 the Department of Defense has been developing the Tactical Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – which has been described as an “Iron Man” suit for warfighters – with embedded sensors and monitors, oxygen controls, temperature controls and ballistic protection that sends data back to a command center.
Today, IoT opportunities in the public sector total well over $30 billion – and that number will continue to increase as IoT globally is expected to grow at a 20 percent CAGR over the coming 3 years. – Washington Technology