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    5 IoT trends to watch in 2024

    Sustainability and security are top of mind


    The window to achieving the climate goals set forth in the Paris Agreement gets smaller every year, but it’s important to keep in mind the progress that has been made. It’s no longer a question of “can we,” but more a question of “will we.”


    2024 has the potential to be a watershed year for climate action. Here are five IoT trends to look out for in the twelve months ahead.

    1. AI and the IoT continue to converge


    2023 was the year of artificial intelligence (AI). The world experienced a democratization wave in AI tools and applications across different industries, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies were an important part of the AI boom.


    IoT infrastructures can be made more responsive and adaptable with the help of machine learning (ML). IoT devices are constantly measuring their surroundings, capturing data via sensors. -The amount of data gathered by IoT devices is now measured in zettabytes--trillions of gigabytes. Social selling platform Lately AI estimates that 120 zettabytes of data was generated in 2023. This represents more than enough data to feed and train AI and ML models, enabling IoT systems to learn, adjust, and make smarter decisions in response to changing environments.


    When integrated into the IoT, AI enables systems and devices to make real-time decisions. AIoT implementations are useful for process automation, energy management, and security enhancement, and they can also support predictive analytics that help anticipate system and user needs.


    The convergence of the IoT and AI has seen a significant increase in the use of connected devices that collect and analyze data to improve energy efficiency. For example, building and facilities managers can use occupancy, daylighting, and other data collected by multisensors in connected lighting systems to optimize lighting levels while at the same time reducing energy consumption.

    If 2023 demonstrated the transformative potential of AI and machine learning, 2024 is where this potential will begin to be realized—especially when applied to energy-efficiency and sustainability initiatives in cities, professional buildings, and homes. The business opportunity is certainly compelling: Allied Market Research projects the global AIoT platform market “to reach $129.2 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 39.5% from 2023 to 2032.”

    2. Sustainable IoT goes circular


    To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the subsequent climate change conferences, sustainability must inform every aspect of technology. The current linear model of production and use is exhausting the planet’s resources and generate tons of non-recyclable waste each year. To transition to a circular “reduce-reuse-recycle” economy, we need to rethink the way we produce and consume.


    As it turns out, the use phase of electronic devices contributes the most in terms of carbon emissions—by far. These emissions are largely tied to energy consumption, so achieving high levels of energy efficiency becomes a crucial aspect of climate change mitigation. IoT systems containing connected LED luminaires and sensors, for example, are becoming increasingly important as a means to identify energy-saving opportunities in cities and buildings. By itself, LED lighting can reduce lighting-related energy consumption by up to 50% over conventional alternatives. However, when LEDs are managed as IoT devices within a connected infrastructure, energy savings can reach 80%. Those connected lighting infrastructures can coordinate with other connected systems in a building to help to achieve net zero and other climate action goals.


    Production and maintenance of IoT devices must become circular as well, with components that are designed to be serviced, upgraded, reused, and refurbished. With the technology and understanding of how to incorporate circular approaches now widespread, more and more manufacturers and other companies may look to incorporate circular approaches across their value chain.


    But let’s be clear: even though understanding of the need and urgency for circular practices increases along with the technology to implement those practices, the circular economy is shrinking globally year by year—down to 7.2% in 2023, from 9.1% in 2018, according to the Circle Economy Foundation. Will 2024 reverse this trend?

    3. 5G gets real


    Moving the tremendous amounts of data that IoT infrastructures generate demands a fast and steady connection. This is where advancements in 5G networks come into play.


    5G networks offer much faster download and upload speeds and lower latencies than 4G. These higher data transmission speeds enable a new set of IoT applications that require real-time data transfer and decision-making. This is a key innovation for the future of IoT systems, enhancing technologies from autonomous vehicles to augmented reality.


    With substantially higher data throughput, smaller 5G cells can handle more connected devices. Additionally, 5G cells can connect a greater number of IoT devices per square mile, making it an ideal choice to support the digitalization in smart city applications.


    Market researchers and thought leaders throughout the smart city space are anticipating a significant boost as 5G rollouts become widespread. MMR is calling 5G the “true catalyst to smart cities,” especially in the areas of energy implementations and smart transportation. Non-profit GSMA similarly anticipates a transformation of the smart mobility sector beginning with the 5G-Advanced standard in 2024, while already looking ahead to 6G.

    4. Edge computing advances


    As data traffic increases, the need for fast data processing is greater than ever. Quick insights and fast decisions are essential to unleash the full potential of IoT infrastructures. This is promise of edge computing.


    Edge computing technologies process and analyze IoT data at the location where it’s collected, rather than sending the data to the cloud for processing. The edge devices that do the processing can either be IoT components or a nearby node.


    For IoT applications, this means that sensors and other IoT devices can make decisions as quickly as possible and with low latency. This can considerably reduce operating costs in situations where an extensive cloud service for data processing is not required. Edge computing also enhances cybersecurity, as data is processed on location rather than transmitted over a network.


    Connected luminaires and sensors can function as edge devices, and there are millions installed worldwide. This presents a massive opportunity to offer edge processing in illuminated environments both indoors and outdoors. For buildings and smart cities, a connected lighting system can provide a real-time responsive infrastructure for centralized lighting system management.


    As Marcin Frąckiewicz, president and CEO of telecommunications company Ts2 Space, argues, “edge computing can be used to connect traffic lights, street lights, and other devices that are part of a smart city’s infrastructure. This allows for the data generated by these devices to be processed quickly and securely, ensuring that the city runs smoothly and efficiently.”


    Signify alone has over 114 million connected light points under management worldwide, so the stage is set for edge computing to make major advancements in smart cities in the year ahead.

    5. Privacy and data security—as usual


    When discussing technological innovations, privacy and security are always pressing concerns. With the growth of IoT infrastructure, the amount of sensitive data captured and processed by connected devices also increases. Ensuring data security and privacy within IoT ecosystems continues to be a fundamental consideration.


    IoT systems require additional technologies to safeguard privacy and data security. Blockchain is one promising technology that can provide decentralized data storage and transmission protocols, ensuring the integrity of data exchange by creating a transparent and tamper-proof transaction record. Edge computing can also address certain data security concerns, by processing the data in the same location it was captured.


    Thorough compliance with regulatory frameworks and standards is necessary when building networks of IoT devices. As reported by Forbes, over 200 billion connected devices will be active worldwide in 2024. “With AI-powered cyber-attacks expected to pose a growing threat in 2024, ensuring devices can be kept secure, particularly in an age of remote and distributed workforces, will be a key trend . . . [S]ecurity and privacy must be at the top of the agenda when building networks of smart devices and connected technology.”

    About the author

    Jonathan Weinert, IoT Lighting, Signify
    Award-winning writer Jonathan Weinert has been been researching and reporting on LED lighting, connected lighting, and the IoT since joining Signify in 2008.

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