Connected Devices Impact of COVID-19 IoT Peer To Peer smart energy

How Smart Homes Power the Post-Pandemic Energy Evolution

smart home post pandemic

Many of us have been cooped up inside for months in the face of the ongoing pandemic, transforming our living spaces into all-in-one offices, gyms, and schools. As a result, those lucky enough to be working remotely and earning expendable income during the “new normal� have been investing in upgrades for the home.

The upgrades for the home is evident.

The home’s upgrades are evident in the embrace of connected devices that transform today’s humble abodes into tomorrow’s smart hubs. We are scrambling for new gadgets that are energy efficient and have automation, convenience, affordability. We want devices that give us enhanced health and wellness.

Energy efficiency shows great promise to simultaneously cut energy bills and carbon emissions in the post-pandemic world.

With the world’s climate crisis at a tipping point, this moment could be the trigger that sees millions of homeowners install advanced monitoring to optimize energy use.

Today’s shift towards smart energy products sets us on the right course for an evolution following COVID-19. Still, it is one that must be pursued relentlessly and backed by cybersecurity best practice.

Working From Home Or Living At The Office?

The world we know is vastly different from the world we knew. Offices have moved online; supply chains have been turned upside down, international routes have largely ceased.

People, meanwhile, have been ordered indoors. About 30% of the global population has been put in lockdown with different levels of nation-wide quarantines, forcing many to spend more time at home than ever before.

The mass uptake of working from home or living at the office all depends on your perspective.

Working from home is subsequently changing how people interact with their living spaces. Without the possibility of vacations or lavish dining experiences — many homeowners are spending what disposable income they have on home upgrades.

No lavish upgrades right now.

However, the upgrades are not simple furnishings or decorations but rather smart devices that bring comfort and efficiency.

Smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart garden sprinklers – smart everything – are becoming commonplace inside the contemporary home.

The ongoing lockdowns are predicted to spur the global market for smart home devices to 18% growth this decade.

A Peek Inside Today’s Smart Energy Home

There are two ways to look at contemporary smart energy inside the home. First, there are standalone devices. These products serve specific efficiency purposes, like regulating the power flow to outlets or automatically turning off lights.

The most popular of these smart additions remain heating and cooling upgrades since air conditioning consumes approximately 40 percent of any building’s electricity.

For example, the German smart thermostat company Sorel enables remote app access to display home temperatures and humidity in real-time. You can even select the operating mode and target temperatures, monitor the correct functioning of the system. The thermostat configures a time program, and activate holiday mode.

Standalone products are all about identifying waste and shifting consumer habits.

Second, there are devices that monitor energy production and manage the home’s overall energy use.

Home energy management solutions are much more holistic with a ‘hub’ communicating between devices that produce and store energy in the home. This includes solar panels, battery storage, and devices that use energy within the home – appliances, heating.

In some cases, these energy systems allow for two-way communication between energy providers and end-users. The communication can result in huge energy and cost savings since the end-user can take advantage of different time-dependent pricing schemes such as time-of-use tariffs, critical peak pricing, and real-time pricing.

The Bigger (Greener) Picture

Perhaps the best part of smart home energy is the elegance of the solution. Smart home products do not try to restrict the homeowner’s energy consumption, nor do they try to force them into doing it alone. Instead, these products often use machine learning to track the homeowner’s lifestyle and find ways to cut bad energy habits.

Regardless of whether homeowners choose to integrate standalone devices or larger smart energy systems, the desired result is the same: to cut unnecessary energy use. The insights and efficiencies offered by smart homes can cut home energy costs by 40 percent. This is an especially important reduction when the economy is down, money is tight, and housing accounts for one-third of the average budget.

More important than the financial savings are environmental savings.

Humanity finds itself on the climate precipice, so many have warned about, with experts calling for global carbon-based emissions to be cut in half by 2030. Housing contributes to one-third of global emissions, and its evolution – or not – will make or break such ambitions.

Thus, this one-two punch of economic and environmental benefits presents a powerful case for further smart home integration in the post-pandemic world.

Why Cybersecurity Matters in Smart Energy

As with any expansion to connected devices, however, it is imperative to consider cybersecurity. Connected devices are infamous for their weak security protocols, and this risk only multiplies if hackers gain access to any home’s energy production or management capabilities.

There are too many hacker horror stories to count – from children being harassed through Amazon Ring to vulnerable connected cardiac devices – and these security blindspots are much more pronounced when dealing with something as integral as energy.

Industrial energy companies have been the target of cyberattacks during this pandemic. In many cases, hackers using phishing emails have sought to gain access to the computers of remote workers and disable company systems for a ransom.

But security experts warn that about a dozen state-sponsored actors have been trying to infiltrate US networks and meddle in the nation’s energy supply.

Homeowners, therefore, must enter into smart energy with best-practice cybersecurity solutions.

One way to do this is by selecting devices that ensure commands between the client and the device are not intercepted by any third-party, such as peer-to-peer. Sorel, for example, uses this private connection type in its heating system to ensure the smartphone app communicates without interference.

Moreover, the peer-to-peer connection offers the company minimized risk since end-users only manage their data on their device.

The reward of smart energy for the home far outweighs the risk when safeguards are in place. Therefore, conscious homeowners who do their research and protect themselves should not stop taking the smart energy plunge.

Planning for Tomorrow Starts Today

While it is tough to find silver linings in moments like this, they are there. Smart energy devices are growing within the modern home, household power bills and carbon emissions are falling as a result, and consumers are learning more about energy responsibility and conservation.

These are all very positive developments, and they are developments that would not have happened as quickly without the pandemic.

Additionally, smart energy evolution is far from over. Smart home products offer many other benefits in addition to energy efficiencies, and these encourage further uptake.

For example, smart products can enhance home security, offer telemedical functions, assist the elderly, and bring lifestyle benefits like connectivity.

Smart energy tech is only predicted to grow further as the market of other products matures, such as electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid, solar power, and battery storage, all of which can be integrated into a smart household energy system.

In addition to these positive trends, homeowners are increasingly willing to pay for smart home solutions. A recent study of New York residents during lockdown found that most are willing to pay for home energy management systems.

The study found relatively high intentions to adopt home energy management systems among the more than 600 surveyed, with nearly 80 percent willing to pay in general and about 30 percent willing to pay more than $5 per month for such energy features.

Reevaluation of energy within the modern household could not come at a more important time. Energy is a sparse resource and one which contributes significantly to our collective carbon footprint.

While most people implementing smart energy solutions are likely more interested in the monetary savings, their environmental importance must not be overlooked when the world has just ten years to halve its emissions.

Today’s shift towards smart energy products sets us on the right course for an evolution following the pandemic, but it is one that must be pursued relentlessly and implemented entirely.

The post How Smart Homes Power the Post-Pandemic Energy Evolution appeared first on ReadWrite.

Connected Devices covid-19 IoT

How IoT Supercharges the Covid-19 Recovery

iot and covid recovery

It’s safe to say this decade has gotten off to a rocky start. The 2020s were presumed by most experts to be defined by the fourth industrial revolution, or the coming future of work, or the rapidly-shifting business landscape. The novel coronavirus had other ideas. Instead, employers have been suddenly confronted with little supply or demand, while employees have often been told they cannot leave the house let alone return to work.

The “new normal� is, unfortunately, here for the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, I want to remind people that there is light at the end of the tunnel even when it feels like this pandemic is set to drag on forever. For every downturn, there is an inevitable upswing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) holds great promise for the post-pandemic world. Believe it!

The current crisis – one which insists upon shelter in place orders and social distancing – plays to the strengths of remote devices.

Asset tracking, inventory management, and condition-based monitoring at the click of a button are all set for greater long-term investment to build better and safer businesses. Similarly, IoT enables employees to get back to work with fewer risks or perform their tasks safely from home. 

The technology’s long-term prospects will only improve as it helps a variety of industries to better overcome manufacturing shut-downs and supply chain interruptions. However, it is important to note that any uptick to connected devices within business operating models will need to address underlying security concerns. Let’s explore why, when integrated conscientiously, connected devices offer a way out of this crisis.

Back up to speed

International business is scrambling to get safely back to work after four months and counting of shutdowns, limited supply, and stifled demand. If time is money, as the old adage goes, then it is understandable why business big and small is so keen to come back online. As a result, many are turning to connected devices to continue production in accordance with health guidelines. 

Connected Devices

Remote asset management powered by connected devices, for example, is increasingly working to monitor machinery without people on the ground. Microsoft Azure offers remote IoT monitoring solutions that are transforming the capabilities of manufacturing companies across the world by allowing teams to collect vital data from multiple remote devices, visualize this information on a dashboard, and respond accordingly to alerts.

IoT devices in the supply chain, meanwhile, allow teams to remotely access information that they need to track shipments, monitor their inventory, prevent theft or damage, and anticipate future inefficiencies. IoT sensors in this context deliver data to team members in distributed locations, enabling them to take immediate action to keep everything running smoothly.

Remote security solutions are working to care for the workers who are back on duty. A variety of IoT “things� are available for the workplace to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines, such as cameras and sensors that detect body temperature, crowd density, or if people are wearing facemasks.

Amazon, for example, is using smart cameras backed by AI to detect whenever warehouse workers come too close to one another.

Back on the job

Connected devices not only help workplaces get back up to speed but allow employees to get on with the job. Tech is enabling things that even 10 years would not have been possible to carry out remotely. From hearing aids (widex dot pro) that can be calibrated by health professionals from anywhere on earth. 

There are also, applications that help family members and caregivers to monitor elderly loved ones from afar, and connected devices that are helping essential workers to perform their duties while protecting the most vulnerable.

For the general worker, there has been a massive move to the remote thanks to IoT interconnectivity.

More people than ever before are working from home and enabling businesses to function despite the hurdles imposed by the pandemic. Interestingly, this trend looks here to stay regardless of the pandemic. Remote workers are proving to be effective collaborators, productive workers, and more flexible in their work-life balance.

In fact, 74 percent of CFOs surveyed by Gartner expect at least some of their employees to continue working from home after isolation measures are lifted.

There is a case to be made that more remote workers will result in better device performance. Employees around the world are getting so used to real-time interaction like video conferences and online calls that it is reasonable to predict that consumers will soon expect this from their connected devices.

In this sense, low latency will be integral to improve – especially as research shows there is only a window of 0.1 of a second if device designers want their “users to feel like their actions are directly causing something to happen on the screen.�

Back to reality

Connected devices are helping workplaces to continue processes from afar and empowering employees to keep working from wherever they choose. These are major benefits during a health crisis which restricts movements and interactions. Thus, it is clear that connected devices are set to play an important role in restarting the global economy in the face of this pandemic.

However, the move toward more devices in the workplace must occur simultaneously with the move toward better security protocols. Research indicates that 57% of IoT devices are vulnerable to attack. Given the tendency of large scale crises to result in increased cyberattacks, it’s more important than ever to ensure the security of cloud networks and IoT devices. 

Any increase to remote workers should sound alarm bells for CTOs.

As previously written on ReadWrite, managers in a conventional office setting enjoy automatic oversight of employee behavior.

The oversite protection is all but removed when people work from home and engage in cybersecurity practices that are less than safe. This rise of “shadow IT� – the use of IT-related hardware or software by a department or individual without the knowledge of IT within the organization – presents security challenges since team members can accidentally expose private data. 

Private data hacks are proving to be an issue for organizations big and small, public and private.

In a recent alert, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the cyber division of the US Department of Homeland Security, urged remote employees to secure “devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.�

The only way companies will overcome the flaws of IoT security is to protect devices and users from the ground up. Organizations must develop enterprise-wide frameworks to minimize exposure to new attack vectors and implement end-to-end security. They should also implement security guidelines and standards, as well as staying on top of device updates and testing.

Ultimately, businesses should make “Secure by Design� practices an organic part of their IoT system infrastructure in order to ensure security from day one. For manufacturers and other industries, it is best to apply an assembly line approach to cybersecurity.

The assembly line approach to cybersecurity means having a strategy for each part of the onboarding process, from education to frequent testing to network segmentation to device fencing. While such security protocols might be costly for companies, the reputational and bottom-line damage from hacking could be far more expensive.

Look at the positives.

Overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives in further integrating connected devices during times like these. The International Monetary Fund reports that there is “an uncertain recovery� ahead due to the one-two punch of an economic downturn during a health crisis.

For their part, connected devices help to return some certainty to this economic recovery by empowering employees and employers to get on with their working lives in this turbulent start to the decade.

The post How IoT Supercharges the Covid-19 Recovery appeared first on ReadWrite.