The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming a regular of consumer headlines. Fridges ordering their own supplies, consumers controlling home heating wherever they are in the world, and smart alarm systems that feedback to your phone. For business and commerce, however, the implications for these interactive and interconnected technology changes – with internet-enabled devices, sensors and monitors – are far more wide-reaching.

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Analysing the Internet of Things for New Zealand’s economy

In the recent report – Accelerating a Connected New Zealand”, from the New Zealand IoT Alliance, David Smol, Chief Executive Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment describes this next step change in technology as “one of the most disruptive technologies to emerge in decades,” yet also one where “the possibilities for New Zealand are significant.”

The Alliance’s chairperson, Graeme Muller, explains further: “The Internet of Things ecosystem has rapidly moved beyond concept to commercial reality. It is evolving into a significant ‘infrastructure’ in its own right, providing the foundation for a hyper-connected world, one where the boundaries of physical and digital blur.”

So where are the key areas where IoT could revolutionise the factory, the office and industry infrastructures?

Connectivity of infrastructure, machinery and products

Managing many aspects of production, process and supporting utilities will become much easier on a huge scale; linking GPS tracking, remote control, monitoring and automation. The IoT Alliance reports gives the examples of monitored humidity on shipping containing fresh produce; automatic venting means longer shelf-life for food imports and exports. Utility efficiency is seen to be a big bonus of many IoT technologies.

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Managing and motivating human resources

With the rise of ‘wearables’, employees’ health and physical activity can be tracked; often used as a reward or motivation. Health and safety can also be improved with ‘wearable’ monitoring devices that track areas such as fatigue.

Big Data Analysis and Insight

As big data analysis deals with more complex relationships, the Internet of Things will assist to translate results into more meaningful, real-time metrics. In New Zealand, of course, agribusiness is vital. IoT offers the possibility of real-time Metservice weather data correlating with an individual farmer’s soil temperatures and moisture readings. The result is precise, local analysis to use irrigation systems as efficiently as possible.

The report goes into great depth into the impact and more importantly, the opportunities for New Zealand with IoT. Here is a country already with world-class internet connectivity and a culture for innovation. This growing area will call for skills in all areas – creativity, technical, digital and entrepreneurial – as new exciting opportunities emerge in both the consumer and the commercial sectors.