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The Internet of Things and Field Service Operations

Big But Not Big Enough.

In recent years, the Internet of Thing (IoT) has collected a web of mystique around it which has made it a little more difficult to understand and evaluate. The IoT means making the devices that are used in industry and in the domestic economy "smarter." This means connecting computers to more of the machines and devices we use every day.

The word "computer" may mean just a small chip-based device that can produce a signal in response to an impulse it receives over the internet. The "computer" may simply be a remote controlled switch (although equipment makers often take rather sophisticated microcomputers off the shelf rather than making something simpler, which means some appliances may have a lot more capacity than
they use).

How Big is the IoT?

In 2012, one creative programmer decided to take a census of all the devices connected to the internet, to assess the size of the IoT. To do so, he invented a botnet called the CarnaBot, after the Roman Goddess of health and vitality. CarnaBot employed the involuntary services of all the millions of unprotected computers in the world to complete its count and found a total of only 1.3 billion addresses in use by devices around the world. The IoT has a lot of room to grow.

CarnaBot also found a large network of other bots called Aidra, going around the world poking into the computers of thirty-thousand refrigerators, gas meters, microwaves, automobile management systems, and mobile phones.

In the coming years, the Pax Technica is changing the IP address system to permit enough addresses that each atom on the face of the earth can have 100 addresses.

Smaller Wide Area Networks.

In many cases, it is possible to connect devices, not to the internet, the widest wide area network, but to smaller, localized wide area networks that use a smaller number of addresses, controlled by a single organization and isolated from the internet itself by a firewall which keeps the information flow contained.

Effects of the IoT on Field Service

The Internet of Things (IoT) centralizes the way devices function and makes it possible to apply adjustments and fixes remotely, minimizing the need for field service personnel for routine adjustments. The IoT works two ways. The equipment connected to the network sends state signals over the network which can be read centrally or by the computers in other devices on the network. The equipment can also respond to activations received to make adjustments that would change the state. These can come from central human operators or from other devices in the system. 

Buildings themselves have been made "smart" with computers connected to climate control systems, elevators, and security systems. Industrial equipment, automated manufacturing, even self-driving vehicles and operator-driven trucking or cars are connected to central systems.  Major appliances, cable-enabled televisions and other systems that used to require personal maintenance on a regular basis can now be diagnosed and adjusted centrally (sometimes even automatically by intelligent devices).

The next phase in field service automation, fully incorporating the IoT, will go beyond improvements in scheduling and dispatching and will build on machine-to-machine communication that bypasses all human interaction and transforms the field service industry completely. 

To learn how field service organizations are utilizing the IoT to drive smarter, faster field service download our latest eBook,


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