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Critical Communications & the Internet of Things By @ImadMouline | @ThingsExpo #IoT

The true future of IoT lies in connecting devices, big and small, to critical communication systems

Please, More Conversations About Critical Communications and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, IoT, is without a doubt one of the most buzzed about topics in our tech-obsessed culture right now.

While I agree that the near-endless possibilities of the consumer side of IoT will transform our everyday lives for the better, making things simpler and more connected, it's not the only angle our society should focus on. There is a huge opportunity for the industrial IoT to significantly impact the world - especially in critical situations.

Mainstream attention is being paid to machine-to-machine communications, but a whole host of new technologies are maturing to make these communications even more actionable during critical situations. This is the real future of our "connected" world. Our ability to connect machines to people for immediate action will continue to improve the way we communicate, work and live.

Below are three examples that illustrate just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of an industrial IoT that is appropriately people-aware.

First, imagine that your local community's water dam was connected to a critical communication system - a comprehensive notification platform. Now imagine that every time it needed to be opened to release water, the system would automatically trigger a notification to the public works department to enable them to take the appropriate action. And not just one simple text message that could potentially (and likely) be missed or ignored, but a multi-modal notification tailored to reach the "need to know" person(s) via text, email, phone, etc. until it is confirmed that they've been reached and agree to take on the necessary tasks or next steps. If the right person does not confirm that he or she is taking care of the issue, then the dam will know to escalate the issue to the appropriate person. That peer could be a peer with the right skills sets who is the next go-to person in a published schedule rotation, or it could be a supervisor who is on-call that day and who can make the appropriate decision when supplied with all the relevant information. The dam can simply keep trying to reach the right people based on simple or complex rules, until satisfied that the right human being is dealing with the situation.

How does the dam know who the "need to know" people are, or who the "right" human being is? A public works infrastructure using an automated, IoT-capable critical communications platform would know what members of the team are the right ones to call, who has the right skill set to deal with the issue at hand and is available, and whose location is close enough to the dam to get there in time. Additionally, the system would recognize the severity level of the incident and tailor its communications accordingly. A severe issue may require alerting seven people at the Public Works Department immediately through all available channels and triggering an aggressive escalation policy, while a routine check-in could be sent with far less urgency to recipients' in boxes. A potential catastrophic issue would entail automatically messaging and calling all the residents who are at risk and giving them detailed information on how to get to safety, while activating sirens, road signs, and other public means of mass notification. This so-called "smart dam" isn't some pipe dream that is years away. We are already there, and we are only getting started.

Second, think of the possibility of things like "smart trashcans" that connect to city employees when they are ready to be emptied, or better yet, tell headquarters they don't need to be emptied, directing crews to the areas that have the highest density of full trashcans. One automated message could stop a truck from being deployed, saving both time and money. Another industrial or corporate example is a smart building access badge system that keeps track of employees' last known location, so that everyone in an affected building, including visiting employees, can be notified or accounted for in case of an emergency.

What's next? Now, and in the future, devices, people and things will continue to automatically trigger communications in a smart and actionable fashion to ensure that the right messages get sent to the right people, based on their location, skill sets or simply, their ability to respond at the right time. The possibilities are endless for any organization, hospital, school or community that needs to act quickly and decisively during an incident. Next time you step outside, take a moment to look around and admire how IoT isn't going to just be a major component of shopping and personal chores, it will become a vital part of society's backbone, helping to keep us all connected, safe and secure.

I'm optimistic there will be more conversations that focus on these "big picture" opportunities to improve the way we communicate and respond, and less on the "smart fridge." Let's focus on public infrastructure, workplace controls, medical devices that can send HIPAA compliant messages to healthcare teams, IT platforms and all other types of critical connected systems and collectively pursue a society that is not just smart but is accurate, automated and downright brilliant when time is of the essence. The true future of IoT lies in connecting devices, big and small, to critical communication systems to ensure that the right teams are called in to help when needed, that the right decision-makers are chased down to approve a course of action that is then carried out automatically, or that the right people are informed of an impending critical situation that could impact their well-being if left unheeded.

More Stories By Imad Mouline

Imad Mouline is the CTO for Everbridge, the leading unified critical communications platform trusted by corporations and communities of all sizes. In this role he leads the company’s product roadmap, innovation and research and development. He previously served as CTO of Compuware APM, Gomez and S1 Corporation.

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