Dane Ralston of iOpt explores how housing professionals can utilise the Internet of Things (IoT), and how to overcome the barriers to its adoption.
When discussing the barriers to making the Internet of Things (IoT) a ‘business as usual’ tool in housing, the necessity to educate the sector and reduce the fear of the unknown crops up constantly.
In a world already steeped in anxiety and stress, it’s not surprising that the Internet of Things (IoT) is worrying and misunderstood for many, and there’s nothing like good first-hand scaremongering to fuel un-informed and irrational decision-making when it comes to technology.
Below are some of the main sticking points as to why IoT is not yet fully normalised or trusted by the wider community, and how to overcome them.
Fear of the unknown
Many people, from tenants to CEOs, don’t know enough about the many benefits and innovative opportunities that IoT brings. Therefore, it’s vital for those within the industry who work with IoT to continually spread their knowledge.
Many have concerns that IoT technologies aren’t always secure or GDPR compliant, for example – this isn’t the case. Unlike many myths out there, IoT isn’t in place to spy on anyone. In fact, IoT is in place to increase sustainability and help asset managers understand the internal environment within their properties to directly benefit their tenant’s wellbeing.
As with any technology, IoT could be exploited by those with less than positive ambitions, but we also need to understand that the technology companies that have developed these systems also work relentlessly to protect their products and their end users. Without this, their investments are worthless to either themselves or their clients.
Many believe that IoT is simply for maintenance driven data. But it is far more expansive than this. With the increased connectivity enabled by cloud computing, such solutions can effectively gather massive datasets from distributed devices and internal and external information systems. While previous research has focused on data streams from IoT devices, few studies have been published on correlating this data for interpretability and action.
Of course, IoT generates and gathers a lot of data, but it is in deriving insights and then actioning these that is the key to success. The collection of user-specific data achieved by using smart devices helps organisations to understand the expectations and behaviour of tenants better, and offers better business opportunities due to the streamlining that IoT offers.
One of the biggest benefits seen for customers here is the ability to automate mundane, low value-add, repetitive tasks that take up a lot of time – time that could be better spent elsewhere. As an example, visits to resolve condensation complaints can typically be reduced by 60-70% when utilising IoT technologies.
IoT is a complex ecosystem of intricate elements, including sensors, gateways, servers, and platforms for accessing information. However, with the correct IoT architecture layers in place, IoT can provide a simple solution to a complex problem. It’s already making an impact, and is about to get even more significant.
Protection from cybercrime is at the core of IoT security. Cybersecurity is a constant slog, watching and waiting while device architects and hackers seek to stay ahead of each other. Consumers want to know that their devices are secure, and that modern security protocols and standards are being implemented.
Ultimately, tenants need to be brought along on this journey. It’s easy enough to express to them the benefits of such systems, but it’s also important to convince them that its providers are all taking the security of that data seriously – and to that extent, actions speak louder than words.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are several practices that can help improve the security of IoT devices and meet market demands.
One example is in enabling secure network communications. Network connectivity is at the heart of IoT, but the network could also be an exposed medium for malicious attackers to compromise devices. The best providers will offer secure end-to-end architecture – from the IoT sensor to cloud level application servers – alongside industry standard encryption algorithms and secure data transport mechanisms at each stage.
Additionally, software updates are imperative. End users understand that vulnerabilities arise, and security patches and firmware updates are a part of using IoT technology. Updates are generally released to implement new features, fix bugs uncovered by debugging or user reports, and address security vulnerabilities.
Stay abreast with best practises
Staying up to date with the latest developments in legislation related to IoT is vital to remaining secure. The industry is growing rapidly, so developers of IoT devices must stay up to date with the latest IoT legislation and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing best practices.
Governments and enterprises are taking notice and stepping up to create IoT security and data governance solutions standards. That’s good news because establishing clear-cut standards for IoT now will provide a solid foundation for future innovation.
Protecting The Vulnerable
State-of-the-art sensors can prevent mould issues while always understanding the indoor air quality to avoid severe issues like moisture build-up and even fuel poverty.
With fuel costs set to double in the next ten years we may not be able to guarantee reduced costs, but we can help them from spiralling out of control.
The proof is in the evidence
The implementation of IoT can provide innumerable benefits to asset managers, from real-time data that allows them to take preventative measures, to the protection of some of society’s most vulnerable.
This technology has a very significant and positive future in housing, but we need to bring everyone with us, because everyone can benefit.
Dane Ralston is the managing director of iOpt