In a world that is constantly evolving, many people get lost in a sea of fancy names, acronyms, and brands of new technologies: everybody has heard about Big Data, Internet of Things or Blockchain, but very few people actually know what they are; for the rest of people, they are just some technologies that sound cool but that they do not see in real life. In this article, we are going to talk about one of those technologies, the Internet of Things (also called IoT), and its relation with Dark Data.
We are used to the Internet of today where only computers communicate with other computers. However, we are starting to see a change on this. All of us have a little device in our pockets that is constantly connected to the Internet, sending and receiving data; and what about your neighbour’s new home heat system, that she can control from her smartphone even when she’s not home? And your new always-connected TV? That is the Internet of Things: the connection of everyday objects to Internet to communicate with either people or other objects.
Personally, I believe that IoT will be the future of the Internet: processors are getting smaller and more energy-efficient every day, allowing us to embed a computer and sensors in any object that we may imagine: products in a warehouse to locate them easily, plants in a garden to know about their health, parking spaces in a city to create a real-time map or even rubbish bins that alert when you do not recycle or when they are full.
But the potential of IoT is not only that objects can send messages or alerts to people: the most powerful feature is the communication of the “things” among them, to coordinate in order to obtain more complete information or to perform more complex actions. In the near future, we may see cars that automatically notify each other when an accident or traffic jam happens so traffic can redistribute or drones that coordinate to bring food and water to people in a natural disaster, without human intervention.
Regardless of the millions of possible applications of IoT (only the future can tell), it is clear that what today we can consider as a glass of water will be a whole ocean in the future: I’m talking about Data. Millions and millions of devices will generate data about their communications, about the environment (sensors, networks,…), etc. Even though many of that information will be treated and processed, there will be much more data that is generated but not captured or processed, that has a great value potential: Dark Data, whose volume will be enormous.
In order to be able to extract and exploit such type of data in the future environment of IoT, we will need to be aware of its importance, and also use IoT for the task. The Internet of Things devices themselves will be the ones that extract their own Dark Data, by collaborating and sharing information and computational power. Only by adapting and using IoT for such extraction we will be able to perform it.
Internet of Things may sound like a futuristic technology, but it is already here and has come to stay.