Internet of things or IoT refers to the network of sensor-embedded smart devices that are capable of connecting and exchanging data over the internet. There are more than 30 billion connected devices today, and this number is expected to reach 75 billion by the year 2025. Every second, 127 new devices are connected to the internet.
Over a duration of only a few years, IoT has quickly become an important technology of the 21st century. It has given us connected cars, connected appliances, and smart homes.
But right now, we are amidst a global pandemic. The world is currently facing a threat like the one never seen before. COVID-19 has affected individuals, communities, and countries in countless ways. There have been job losses, economic slowdowns, and large-scale lockdowns.
But times of uncertainty can also foster innovation. The pandemic has forced individuals and businesses to rethink how they conduct themselves. Technology adoption has soared during the pandemic. COVID-19 has speeded the adoption of digital technologies by at least several years.
But has COVID-19 fast-tracked the adoption of IoT as well? Let’s discuss in this article.
What do the stats suggest?
Various stats and reports clearly suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of IoT. As per the IoT Spotlight 2020 report, 67% of businesses with IoT increased the pace of IoT projects during the pandemic. The report surveyed 1639 companies to discover the effects of IoT on businesses. The report also highlighted that
- Almost 84% of IoT adopters felt that IoT has helped them maintain business continuity and operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
- About 81% of IoT adopters said that they are prioritizing IoT higher than they did before.
The same report states that IoT adoption continues to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because IoT continues to generate value.
About 73% of IoT adopters say that they continue to receive a significant return on investment (ROI) with IoT.
When it comes to adopting IoT, now only 18% of businesses see cybersecurity as the main barrier to adopting IoT. Moreover, IoT has helped over 55% of businesses to lower down their operating costs by an average of 21% during the pandemic.
Increased demand for IoT
The disruption caused by COVID-19 has triggered a boom in the market for IoT and connected technologies. Businesses across the globe have begun to realize that IoT device networks can be indispensable to their business operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the rapid pace of IoT implementation. IoT, thus, is emerging as a key tool in making remote work accessible and workplaces safer.
The pandemic has been the reason for the increased demand for IoT. Businesses, irrespective of the industry, have now accelerated their IoT adoption strategies.
Another big reason for the increased demand for IoT has been the benefits that IoT offers. Some of the key benefits of IoT that enable increased demand are –
- Improved operational efficiency
- Business model innovation with new products and services
- Increased employee productivity
- Improve asset uptime (consistency and reliability)
- Greater safety at workplaces
- Reduced operating costs
- Greater flexibility when supporting customers
How are organizations using IoT during the pandemic?
IoT is proving to be a valuable solution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Connected devices are being used across industries for performing various roles. Let’s discuss some of the use cases of IoT during the pandemic –
IoT for creating safer workplaces
Along with the basic precautionary guidelines issued by health authorities, businesses can also rely on technology to create COVID-free workplaces. The concept of the contactless office is picking up pace. Companies are using smart interconnected devices to make reservations, enable entry and exits, manage visitors, and make payments.
IoT is being used to reduce touchpoints in offices. It is also being used to regulate employee interactions. Through sensor-powered smart rooms and hallways, organizations can inform the employees when a particular spot in the office is occupied or when a meeting is taking place. This can eliminate unplanned encounters and avoid unnecessary hovering outside meeting rooms or cafeteria, making the workplaces safer for employees.
IoT in healthcare
The healthcare sector has been at the forefront of IoT adoption during the pandemic. Numerous applications of IoT in healthcare include the following –
- Connected imaging
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM)
- Medication management
- Connected healthcare workers
- Smart ambulance
- Connected health
- Lifestyle management
- Smart wearables for tracking vitals
- Real-time location systems (RTLS) like RFID bracelets for identifying quarantined patients, providing care, and monitoring patient movement
- Contact tracing using BLE technology
- Preventing failure of critical equipment
- Disease prediction and diagnosis
High-volume footfall locations like airports, train stations, workplaces, hotels, gyms, and movie halls are installing automatic disinfectants to minimize the spread of the virus. The automatic disinfectant can detect a human using an ultrasonic sensor and immediately disinfect a person using a sanitizer spray.
These automatic disinfectants are being installed at the entry points to quickly disinfect outsiders entering a particular building. The smart device also gathers individual data and can provide daily, weekly, or monthly reports of the counts of individuals along with in-out timestamps and power usage reports.
IoT in the restaurant industry
The restaurant industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the majority of eateries either shutting down or laying off their staff. But as the industry slowly recovers, IoT is proving to be of help.
Restaurants and eatery owners are employing IoT networks to do temperature checks on coolers and freezers, thus reducing food waste and maintaining safe storage of food items. IoT is also being utilized to minimize human contact and keep the food as safe as possible. There are also portable food sample analyzers that quickly give reports about the quality of food.
IoT in transportation
The travel industry is one of the worst-hit industries. As public transport slowly opens up, airports, bus/train stations, and cruise ships are deploying fever detection systems to detect infected individuals. There are also IoT-enabled devices to ensure proper hand sanitization for airport staff. Robots are also used in subway systems to disinfect rail cars.
There is also an expectation that the public will soon start using digital health passports for travelling in trains or public transport.
As evident from the data shared above, it would be fair to say that IoT is proving to be an effective tool in our fight against COVID-19. COVID-19 has not only fast-tracked the adoption of IoT, but it has also created an IoT-powered ecosystem that could be here for the long haul.