Data, data everywhere, but no insights in sight

by LESLIE LANGNAU, Managing Editor, @DW_3DPrinting

Recently, I had to call my wireless Internet service provider because my internet service was super slow. The customer service rep asked me how many devices I have connected to the Internet. I answered four. Four! Apparently, that was at least one too many. I would need to upgrade to the Turbo Charged bandwidth for an additional monthly fee.

The office I work in also has wireless Internet service, from the same provider—it has a monopoly in our geographic area. On average, our office has about 60 to 80 devices connecting with the Internet daily. The wireless crashes frequently, so frequently that many of us choose to connect through a hardwire cable in hopes of getting more reliable Internet service. That means fewer devices trying to connect wirelessly, yet our service still crashes often.

So I snigger when I hear we are going to connect billions of devices to the Internet for the Internet of Things. Particularly for the Industrial IoT, many of these devices will need to transmit reliably so as not to produce scrap.

Has anyone informed the Internet service providers about the Tsunami of data the IoT will throw at them? Are we really going to be able to connect billions of data-transmitting devices to the Internet without crashes all the time?

Just for reference: 1,024 GB = 1 TB; 1,024 TB = 1 petabyte (PB); 1,024 PB = 1 exabyte (EB); 1,024 EB = 1 zettabyte. In the year 2003, the world’s population of Internet-linked accounts created 3 EB of “information.” Today, with just Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, we are at 1 EB. Now include individual and corporate websites. How many more exabytes will we generate once billions of devices are all connected to the IoT?

Have the promoters of the IoT thought about just how they are going to manage petabytes of data? Manufacturers with connected factories thought about this more than 20 years ago when they connected all their “islands of automation.” They gathered data from every sensor, every chip, every control that they could—sensor on, sensor off, on, off, on, off, on, off, and so on. The data arrived at a millisecond rate. More than 90% of these collected data indicated everything operated as planned. That’s when management questioned the logic of seeing every single bit of data. Thus began management by exception—only if the sensor doesn’t go on as planned do you want to know about it.

The hype of the IoT is ridiculous. Unfortunately, it is driving many decisions, including design decisions. Will more data really deliver more insight? Or will it simply drown us?

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