Today we have some Internet of Things show and tell for you. Cisco has put together an inspiring little 360-degree tour of various connected environments that show the power and drama of IoT at work. When you enter each virtual realm, you'll be able to drag your cursor to pan around and click on different "hot spots" that help tell the story of how IoT is rescuing rhinos, captivating customers, and providing for patients.
Perhaps the most powerful immersion we experience as part of Cisco's virtual tour is a trip to South Africa's Kruger National Park, where Bruce "Doc" Watson of Dimension Data has been working with Cisco for 26 years on various technical solutions, the most recent one being Connected Conservation, an effort to save the rhinoceroses in the game reserve from poaching and, ultimately, from extinction.
As you pan around the scene at Kruger and click for more information, you will learn about the following:
- How all vehicles and their inhabitants are screened wirelessly via an extensive background check upon arriving at the entry gates. Biometrics are used so that anyone with a criminal record, or who is in other ways a person of interest, or who is in possession of a stolen vehicle, is prevented from entering the reserve.
- How an intelligent array of thermal cameras with video and analytics capability can reveal unusual activity in the park so that game rangers can be dispatched to the scene immediately.
- How fences surrounding the perimeter of the reserve are also connected to the wireless network and sensors can send an alarm signal if the fence has been cut. The sensors also relay the location of the forced entry via mobile phone to the game ranger, who can quickly proceed to the scene.
Back in a world more familiar to most of us than the African bush, grocery stores are no strangers to digital technology. The stores understand that digital is increasingly influencing how people shop and consume products—and that by capitalizing on IoT, they can deliver a better brand experience and make it easier for customers to do business with them.
Exploration of a grocery store during our Cisco virtual tour reveals these uses of IoT technology:
- Produce is grown on farms many miles away from the store, of course, but attaching sensors to the shipping crates provides the grocery store with visibility into the exact type and volume of produce it can expect. The sensors also track the produce in real time from farm to distribution warehouse to store. They also allow the grocer to monitor whether produce is being transmitted at the correct temperature, which saves cost and eliminates unnecessary waste.
- The in-store wireless network is the backbone of the store’s operations. It serves customers and staffs and connects to the distribution center, helping the grocer gain efficiency that cuts down on waste and contributes to sustainability and environmental efforts.
- Connecting security cameras to the wireless network cuts down on theft, of course, but an unexpected benefit is that the data gathered from the cameras also helps serve the customer better. By analyzing trends and foot traffic, the store can better staff and stock the store. The data also helps with merchandising and promotional placement. Through facial recognition and predictive analytics, the grocery store can promote products more accurately, based on customer demographics and past buying patterns. The result is a more personalized and relevant in-store experience. And that helps drive up revenue.
The Connected Healthcare section of our 360-degree IoT experience brings us inside a hospital for a glimpse at a truly digital facility and new trends in patient care. Hospitals capture and store a lot of data electronically, and advanced connectivity simplifies data processing, extracting critical insights essential for the doctor.
In our Cisco scenario, we see the following as we roam around the medical environment:
- The doctor in the scene points out a virtual patient observation (VPO) cart, which uses face-tracking cameras, advanced analytics, and high-definition displays to allow practitioners to interact with patients while being physically separated from them. Having a VPO cart in each patient’s room allows a centralized approach to patient observation. This improves the workflow for care providers by increasing efficiency, staff satisfaction, and safety.
- As you pan around the room to click on the connected inventory, you'll learn that there are connected environmental sensors in all the fridges of this hospital for continuous monitoring of temperature and humidity. Wireless asset management tags help the hospital ensure that it has the correct stock of medication, laboratory chemicals, bone banks, and even food products. All of this automation frees up doctors and caregivers from manual tasks, such as taking stock, so they can focus on providing excellent patient care.
- The nurse in our panoramic sweep speaks to how the hospital's patient engagement has improved. When a patient calls the hospital, the patient's phone number is immediately linked to his or her medical record. This means that patient drop-out rates for appointments rarely exceed 2 percent, which has greatly enhanced patient satisfaction levels.
- Healthcare facilities, we learn, can use built-in motion detectors on cameras to enable “virtual bed rails” (pictured above). When motion is detected, an alert is sent to a console to give patient observers an indication that a patient might be engaging in behavior that creates risk such as attempting to get out of bed without assistance. Additionally, video analytics can automatically identify when a patient is in distress and alert nearby staff.
Go ahead now and visit the three components of Cisco's Connected World virtual tour: Connected Conservation, Connected Retail, and Connected Healthcare. For all the challenges that IoT does pose for us, this enjoyable experience should leave you feeling positive about the upside of the Internet of Things in terms of improving life experience and protecting the planet.
And while you're at it, download our white paper "Prepare to Succeed with the Internet of Things." This report will give you an even broader sense of the fields that stand to gain from IoT and how you can take advantage of it with the right digital strategy.
In what walk of life does IoT have you fired up about the things that can be accomplished? Let us know in the Comments below!
Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.