The number of Internet of Things implementation will keep growing as it’s predicted to be billion of sensors by 2020. The IoT market has implications that extend far beyond tracking your steps, and it is just starting to realize its potential to address global poverty by helping the international development community narrow the gap between data and action.
One of the winners in the latest round of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations was a startup that builds low cost sensors to help farmers get more accurate weather data at a cheaper price point. Groundtruth, one example of an emerging class of “internet of things” — or IoT — companies, will combine satellite data with information gathered from ground sensors and mobile phones to measure rainfall and inform index insurance schemes.
The group has installed more than 1,000 sensors in 15 countries on water pumps, latrines and hand-washing stations. These remote monitoring systems ensure that community partnerships deliver on their promises and raise the quality and accountability of those products and services.
“Adding electronic sensors, connected over the cellular networks to Internet databases available globally, can help draw attention to, and incentivize, fixing what we might call the ‘internet of broken things,’” said Evan Thomas, the Portland, Oregon-based director of SweetSense Inc., which developments and implements cellular based monitoring technologies for global health programs.
After SweetSense Inc. installed 200 sensors on rural water pumps in Rwanda, the percentage of broken pumps declined from 44 to 9 percent, and the time for repairs fell from 7 months to 26 days.
Agriculture is fertile ground for IoT innovation, says Jehiel Oliver, the founder and CEO of Hello Tractor, a Nigeria-based social enterprise that designed a “smart tractor” with a GPS satellite that collects data and a cloud powered booking system that allows farmers to request and pay for services using SMS messaging and mobile money.
He explained how IoT can be leveraged to prevent assets from being misused through remote monitoring, keep machines in good working condition through sensor technologies, or maximize the value of assets through collaborative consumption.
“These benefits are infinitely valuable in the global development context where keeping an asset functioning in the market at an optimal level is often times mission critical for the project and the livelihoods depending on the project,” Said Jehiel.