The internet of things and smart cities
When we think of computer networks, we think of routers and servers and fiber optic cables and laptops and smartphones — we think of the internet. In actuality, though, the visible internet is just the tip of the iceberg. There are secret military networks, and ad hoc wireless networks, and utility companies have sprawling, cellular networks the track everything from the health of oil pipelines and uranium enrichment machines through to the remaining capacity of septic tanks.
Emergency services have their own closed networks, public transport ticketing machines are all networked together, and of course traffic signals and cameras are all networked up. Meteorological agencies have huge networks of weather beacons. Most large buildings (and cities) have sprawling networks of CCTV cameras. And, in the case of large retailers, even individual stock items are networked using NFC (RFID).
At the moment, almost all of these networks are completely disconnected — but what if we connected them all to the internet? What if we extended the internet so that it wasn’t only populated by humans? What if we made an internet of things?