IoT technology seems to have penetrated every sector and geography imaginable, but there are still places that the hype has not yet reached. In the current climate of uncertainty and risk for vulnerable individuals, IoT technology could drastically improve essential services by offering a completely new way to deliver that service.
This article will cover how the benefits of IoT are being introduced to industries in Canada, and how connectivity is enabling the most crucial services to be more efficient and continue to address our most vital needs.
Connecting new ground
Whilst only a few thousand miles from Silicon Valley, and even closer to the rapidly-growing tech hub of Seattle, businesses in Canada do not necessarily have the same experience when it comes to using digital technologies. “There’s not a lot of applications in the IoT space [in Canada] right now,” says Sigfox Canada’s Kent Rawlings, “from a low power perspective awareness is starting to grow here in Canada but it certainly hasn’t proliferated through all the industries.” While interest is certainly growing in Canada around the potential of IoT, “a lot of the reactions we see are of surprise that you can actually achieve these things,” says Rawlings, “but when you describe what [IoT connectivity] can do for them, they intuitively appreciate the benefit of that insight.”
Starting fresh, in a region that has not been ‘oversold’ on the transformative power and simplicity of IoT technologies, gives solutions and connectivity providers a way to approach business on their own terms – without having to explain implementation difficulties after the fact. “Once we explain how the technology works, [businesses] start to think about how to re-engineer their business processes, and that’s causing them to rethink their entire business model,” says Rawlings.
In today’s environment of social isolation and extended quarantine, new, more efficient business models could help the most essential services adapt to the challenges that Covid-19 poses. Care facilities and retirement homes have felt the horrific consequences of coronavirus more fiercely than most, due to the proximity and vulnerability of residents and lack of sanitized protective equipment for staff in some areas. Senior monitoring company Senioradom connects motion detectors together with a central platform, which employs “an algorithm that tracks and monitors the senior’s activity to figure out the standard activity for that person,”says Rawlings, alerting staff to any anomalous behavior before a dangerous event occurs.
In the current lockdown situation, seniors living alone or even inside a care home can be “monitored on an hourly or daily basis” by care workers and medical staff, minimizing contact time, and family members can also access a portal “so they can see exactly what is happening with their loved one 24/7,” says Rawlings. With the inclusion of a connected thermometer, heart-rate monitor or even ventilator, patients who require more intensive care can also be monitored remotely, minimizing the risk of spreading infection further. “If you combine more data-intensive heart-rate monitoring with the motion detection in one platform, now you’ve got something really powerful to enable the elderly to live at home,” says Rawlings.
Apart from healthcare, there are many essential services that continue to support the swathes of people confined to their house or that still have to travel to work, including cleaners, public transport workers, delivery drivers, police and of course waste collectors. With many waste collection services being reduced and public waste disposal sites being temporarily closed, waste collectors are under more strain than ever to keep our streets and homes sanitary.
In conversation with a waste management company in a large urban center in Canada, Rawlings recounts that the prospect of monitoring bins and scheduling more efficient pick-ups sparked a lot of enthusiasm: “we can monitor your bins and tell you whether they’re empty or full… now you can offer an on-demand subscription service that requires less collection trips, with the same profit from a pick-up.” Under the increasing pressure of quarantine, this same model could be applied to residencies as well, perhaps under government subsidy, so that domestic waste can be collected more efficiently with fewer drivers and fewer rounds, and waste management companies don’t fail at a time when they are needed the most.
The potential of IoT to transform business is quickly being realized in Canada, and businesses of all kinds are seeing that they can not only save some time and money in business operations, but that they can transform their business completely. At such a vital and difficult time, IoT connectivity could be the deciding factor in whether services like senior care or waste collection can cope with increased demand, and help them to navigate a truly unique set of circumstances.
IoT and business efficiencies are not the most important things right now, but in dire straits theses changes to how services operate could save lives, or at the very least reduce the burden on essential services.