By Kepha Okari.
Moringa School Student
Imagine reading your favorite book and a text comes in from your washing machine informing you that it’s done with your laundry and you need to dry them, or a message from the hydro sensors in your pot reminding you to water your plant. Better yet, a reminder from your fridge about the refreshments you need to buy whenever pass near a convenient store. How cool and convenient is that? The very concept of interconnecting appliances and accessories around our lives is what we call ‘Internet of things’. The key idea is to minimize human and computer direct interaction by enabling the devices to gather data from our environment on their own, interpret and act on it or advice us appropriately.
Like the two sides of a coin, IoT comes with its own benefits that are so hard to resist and inevitable challenges. Much of the questions that arise about our readiness for IoT have to do with the technical aspects. Any day any time, we will all be ready for the positive impacts of anything that there is to think about. I can’t quite say that regarding the probable IoT challenges. This is so because all the stakeholders seem to direct their focus on the basic benefits of IoT but have taken a backseat on solving the challenges it presents. We will never question our readiness for this piece of technology until we take our time to evaluate these existing challenges
Notably, the cost of implementing this piece of technology will not be any forgiving due to the infrastructure required to support it. However, this should be the least of our worries as there are always people willing to invest in innovations should they foresee an economic bubble attached to it. The technical challenges remain the real elephant in the room.
The first concern is security. We all want to secure our personal information from getting in the hands of bad people. But not all of the users have the technical know-hows to ensure this happens. Came to think of it, with the large numbers of devices connected to the Internet, their will be a lot of information in the offing and businesses will be yearning for it to optimize their marketing. There are those who will do about anything to avail this information to some of these corporates who are willing to play dirty. Also, there will always be those crazy hackers who will see this as an opportunity to take there mischievous a notch higher. With ten or so devices linked to one user, it becomes difficult to store passwords for each. As such, most users will likely use one password for all the devices or their email (or even worse, their social media account) to login. Unfortunately, this will widen the avenue of leaking their sensitive information. How secure a user can be depends on the security state of their least secured device. If the ‘right kind of hackers’ get this access, God knows what they can do.
Reliability is another concern. Owing to the dependence that will be attached to this kind of technology, any failure of servers will be felt to the core. We first need to ensure resilience in case that happens. Until then, I doubt our preparedness. Also, there will be so many devices to connect to the internet, it will be a real challenge allocating each an Internet Protocol address. An IP is the unique identification allocated to every device connected on the internet. It enables the device to send and receive information over the Internet. Much like a phone number is assigned to each phone in the cellular network for communication with other phones.I believe going forward, there is a high possibility of exhausting the available IP resources availed by IP version 6 (IPv6), which many believe is the ultimate IP addressing solution. Very few imagined IPv4 would be exhausted until the internet adoption proved them wrong. We will need a much more scalable IP addressing system. Otherwise, sticking to IPv6 as our silver bullet for this will be like fighting obesity by adjusting a belt.
We cannot also hide away from the environmental implications that IoT will present. IoT will peg its success on cloud computing which in turn will require millions of data centers to host the chunks of data generated by the users. We will need a lot of electricity to keep these facilities running. Currently, a research by Molecular Diversity Preservation International and Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) estimates that they take 9% of the global electricity and generate 2% of carbon emission. If IoT adoption rockets before we find renewable energy sources that are more practical and scalable, this figures will get even more scary. Holding this challenges in mind, do you think we ready for the Internet of Things?