It’s going to be a IP-driven universe

McKinsey Quarterly recently published an article entitled, “The Internet of Things.” The gist is that sensors are being embedded in everything around us. As the sensors begin to communicate with each other, the activities that make up our daily lives become less susceptible to small hurdles like traffic snarls or forgetting to pick up a gallon of milk because we will be informed, in near real time, of such inconveniences. In theory, our lives will become more efficient with the net result being more sustainable.

This isn’t futuristic. This is today. IP (Internet Protocol) the language of the Internet and networked computing devices is being embedded all around us, by companies you wouldn’t even consider involved in computer technology. The highway traffic signs telling us of rock slides or traffic delays are managed and maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. However, the information they relay to drivers is condensed from a variety of sources including phoned in information, aerial traffic monitors and sensors along the highway system.

IP-based sensors will eventually be embedded throughout all of the transportation systems from trains, planes, and ships, to the infrastructure they rely on to move goods and services from one place to another. There are many benefits to a highly networked, highly communicative transportation environment. Consider:

 Time saved by not getting caught in traffic delays
 Improved product location status
 Reduction in lost and stolen goods during transport
 Ability to invoke alternative routing strategies to mitigate delays

These benefits are readily transferable to other areas of our lives where IP is being embedded: healthcare, electrical smart grids, security and safety, and environmental and weather.

Is a highly networked society a bed of roses? The article does not address the dark side of extensive social data collection. Entire companies are built to support the need for data security and privacy, yet the computing society still experiences identity theft, banking fraud (not of the white collar type currently in the news), computer viruses and unfortunate results of data corruption such as large tax bills or water bills.

As government at all levels moves along the path of IP Everywhere, citizens need to be vigilant in asking:

 Who “owns” the data
 Who has access to the data
 What data sets should never be correlated under any circumstances
 What is the life cycle of the data; when is it truly destroyed
 Where and how is the data stored
 Who has access to the stored data
 How does an individual fix an error in their personal data set
 Who is responsible for fixing the error after it has propagated across the networked environment.

These are issues everyone needs to be concerned with before signing up for IP Everywhere. Citizens of a networked society need to learn how to control and manage their on-line identity. The starting point of this education is knowing who is collecting what data on you and why. It is inevitable that sensors and collectors will be embedded throughout your path in life. It is up to you to understand what information is being gathered on you.

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