A global area where digital technologies, especially the internet of things or “IoT”, are really making an impact is the smart city innovation. Currently more than 250 smart city projects are going on in 178 cities worldwide with the aim to “provide more efficient services to citizens, to monitor and optimize existing infrastructure, to increase collaboration amongst different economic actors and to encourage innovative business models in both private and public sectors”. But what is IoT and how does it make the difference?

In order to achieve these goals, smart cities rely both on human capital – research universities, knowledge intensive companies and public institutions – and on state-of-the-art information technology – fiber optic networks, sensors and connected devices, open data analytics, information and communication technologies and especially the Internet of Things – IoT.

We would like to invite you to watch the video below to better understand the concept of the “Internet of Things”.

Simple process

The IoT enables objects and locations from the physical world to become part of the digital world by being connected and controlled through the Internet. The process is simple: objects and locations are generally equipped with minicomputers, which are barely visible or completely invisible, so that they become smart objects that can not only collect and store information about their environment but also communicate with the Internet and other smart objects. Also, the Internet of Things enables the connection of many digital technologies. See a snapshot of important digital technologies below.

Image of different advancements of technology
Exponential Technology Advances (Adapted from: Deloitte, 2016)

Gartner Hype Cycle

However, not all technologies are equally relevant. To understand which technology would be best to focus on, we can use the Gartner Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle is a tool that was created by a research company called ‘Gartner’. We can use the Hype Cycle representation to make decisions and to differentiate between which technology is really commercially viable and which is not. See below the last Hype Cycle from 2018.  The Hype Cycle gives an overview of how technology is expected to grow and develop over time. Generally, it is advisable to focus on technologies that are already more mature, meaning on the right side of the cycle, called the slope of enlightenment the plateau of productivity. The Internet of Things is just about to leave the “peak of inflated expectations”.

Internet of Things in the Gartner Hype Cycle for ICT in Africa
Hype Cycle for ICT in Africa (Adapted from: Gartner, 2018)

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