One thing that many devices on the Internet of Things (IoT) have in common is that they do not have conventional user interfaces such as you’d expect to find on a personal computer or smartphone. Given the diverse form and function represented by IoT devices, interoperability and security have presented themselves as points of concern. For owners of IoT devices like the Apple TV or Amazon Echo, the frustration that comes with getting these devices to cooperate is no doubt a familiar annoyance. As more and more innovative and creative IoT applications are conceived, developed, and rushed to production, the dissonance and frustration of uncooperative devices threatens to worsen.
When considering the implications of IoT technology being implemented on such large scales as agricultural complexes, municipal utilities, and power plants, it is easy to see how the stakes can get quite high. For instance, in response to the agricultural and ecological state of emergency caused by the ongoing California drought, various smart technology developers have partnered with such recognizable companies as John Deere. By equipping John Deere tractors with networked sensors, analysts could calculate which areas would be optimal for planting so that farmers could plan accordingly. Other instances of smart technology being deployed to address the California drought include Intel’s partnership with the University of California in measuring Santa Barbara snow patterns and IBM’s partnership with AT&T’s LTE wireless network to warn municipalities about leaks in underground pipes.
In examples such as these, various information systems and smart technology structures will be involved, as well as enormous amounts of sensitive data. According to research referenced by tech blogger Andy Vitus, there were over two-hundred venture capital deals in 2015 alone, totally over $2 billion in revenue. Of those, $525 million involved water-oriented projects.
While all of these smart technology startups are bringing creative solutions to the world of agriculture, their respective devices do not share standardized protocols so any hope of networked communication between systems will involve a tremendous amount of reverse-engineering. To make the biggest positive impact on the world of agriculture, IoT needs to prioritize the implementation of open standards in its network protocols. Without these standards, every device manufacturer may promote their own proprietary protocols and systems will not be able to communicate with each other, effectively stymying the reach that these technologies may have.
No matter what direction agricultural smart technology takes, the IoT will never be a “rainmaker” in ecological states of emergency like the California drought. Still, it can do much to mitigate the severity of such dire circumstances by ensuring that the resources available are used in the most efficient way possible. If, through the power of open standards, IoT systems are enabled to share information and data resources, then their ability to influence and innovate will only increase.