FutureTalks Portland logoThe fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Like the steam engine, mass production, and the World Wide Web before it, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to change forever the way we live and work. That change will be most dramatic in cities, where the harnessing of real-time data collected by personal and civic devices has the potential to make urban life more efficient, more pleasant, and more environmentally friendly. But converting that potential into action presents startups, corporations, and governments alike with considerable—though by no means insurmountable—challenges.

stephanie fosterThis was the message delivered by Stephanie Foster at our latest FutureTalk in Portland. VP of Brand & Marketing for Wearable World and team member of the IoT for Cities initiative in San Francisco, Stephanie introduced a packed house to the exciting developments taking place in the world of IoT. In the process, she shared some pretty staggering statistics—including the fact that by 2018 the number of connected IoT devices is expected to total more than all PCs, smartphones, and tablets combined—emphasizing the impact this new technology will have.

The heart of the matter

IoT devices are already transforming a range of industries, including shipping, home security, and water management. But there’s one to which Stephanie feels a particularly personal connection: healthcare. Having worn a heart monitor on and off for years, she remembers all too well the days of carrying a cumbersome device around in a less-than-stylish fanny pack. When it came time to check in with her doctor, she had to find a landline, then hold the monitor up to the phone so that someone at the other end could manually transcribe the random beeps it emitted.

Today, Stephanie’s monitor is lightweight and completely undetectable. The data it records is automatically transmitted to, and recorded by, her healthcare provider—no phone call required. Innovations like this will be life-changing, and potentially life-saving, for patients all over the globe.

Shaking things up

IoT startups (nearly 1,000 in the United States alone) have lots of exciting ideas. Corporations need those ideas to help them with the daunting task of converting traditional products into smart ones. And cities want to innovate like startups, while wielding a corporation-sized budget.

That’s why Stephanie and her colleagues at the IoT for Cities initiative strive to foster partnerships between these three elements, breaking each out of its respective silo. “It’s about getting the right people sitting around the same table,” she said. The goal? To make San Francisco the IoT capital of the world.

The city has three primary issues that it wants to address with IoT. Perhaps the most pressing for a city built more or less on top of a fault line is the development of an early warning system for earthquakes. As Stephanie explained, earthquakes typically occur in two waves. “The first tells you how big the second is going to be, and the second is the one you actually feel.” Data from the first wave needs to be interpreted and shared as fast as possible so that as many at-risk residents as possible can be notified in time to take evasive action. “With IoT technology, we can do it much better and much quicker.”

IoT for Cities is also connecting companies including GE, View, and AccuWeather with startups such as Ninja Blocks and TZOA, yielding amazing results. To find out more about these exciting collaborations, and learn Stephanie’s three recommendations for best practice in the world of IoT, watch the full FutureTalk video below:

More great FutureTalks to come

For more information about our FutureTalks series, make sure to join our Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks PDX, and follow us on Twitter @newrelic for the latest developments and updates on upcoming events.


IoT image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Christian Sinai is the Community Relations Manager for New Relic in Portland, Oregon. He is the community lead and liaison for our local outreach efforts, and manages initiatives such as the FutureTalks PDX technical speaker series. View posts by .

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