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Digital future

Cisco claims Internet of Everything could generate massive global value

Digital future

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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If you’ve been paying any attention to technology trends over the last couple of years, you’ve more than likely heard of the Internet of Things, which is built on the increasing number of real world objects with embedded sensors that allow them to connect to the internet.

While there are still debates going on about its viability and fears about the potential limits on its safety, Cisco reckons its title is no longer enough.

Instead, the networking giant says, we should be talking about Internet of Everything (IoE) and the massive value it could bring, even to emerging market countries.

But what exactly is The Internet of Everything? According to Cisco, the IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data and things, and the increased value that occurs as “everything” joins the network. Several technology transitions — including the Internet of Things, increased mobility, the emergence of cloud computing, and the growing importance of big data, among others — are combining to enable IoE.

Globally, the Internet of Everything is expected to generate US$4.6-trillion in value for public sector organisations over the next decade. Around the world meanwhile, cities apparently have the potential to claim US$1.9-trillion in value. Cisco reckons that cities can capture much of this value by implementing “killer apps”:

  • Smart buildings are poised to generate US$100-billion by lowering operating costs by reducing energy consumption through the integration of HVAC and other systems.
  • Gas monitoring could generate US$69-billion by reducing meter-reading costs and increasing the accuracy of readings for citizens and municipal utility agencies.
  • Smart parking could create US$41-billion by providing real-time visibility into the availability of parking spaces across a city. Residents can identify and reserve the closest available space, traffic wardens can identify non-compliant usage, and municipalities can introduce demand-based pricing.
  • Water management could generate US$39-billion by connecting the household water meter over an IP network to provide remote information on use and status.
  • Road pricing could create US$18-billion in new revenues by implementing automatic payments as vehicles enter busy zones of cities, improving traffic conditions and raising revenues.

While much of that value will be created in developed markets where existing infrastructure can easily be upgraded, Cisco claims that there will also be serious value in the Internet of Everything for emerging market countries.

Take South Africa for instance. Cisco reckons that the smallest of the BRICS could generate US$14.3-billion in value for South Africa’s public sector over the next decade. This value, it says, will be created by saving money, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue (without raising taxes) and enhancing citizen benefits.

As is the case globally, much of the value is expected to be generated at a city level, with Cisco projecting US$12.3-billion to be generated over the next decade. It says the top five avenues through which government can deliver on this value include: smart grid, cyber security, travel, mobile collaboration and chronic disease management.

“With more than two-thirds of South Africans living in urban centres and more migrating into these areas daily, our cities must become more flexible and responsive to citizen needs, while making the most of public resources. The Internet of Everything is transforming how cities deliver services and how citizens interact with government,” says David Mphelo, Cisco South Africa Executive Director, Public Sector Business.

At a citizen level meanwhile, the value at stake is projected at US$2-billion for the country. The top areas this value can be generated in, Cisco says, are: payments, counterfeit drug programmes, chronic disease management, telework and smart street lighting.

It is however worth noting that it’s in Cisco’s direct interest to predict big value for governments investing in the Internet of Everything, given that it’s one of the leading providers of the infrastructure needed to make it functional. It’s also worth noting that it hasn’t exactly gone to massive lengths to examine the potential risk associated with it.