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IoT

Is Health the Killer App for the IoT?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Discussion of the Internet of Things (IoT) typically focuses on the benefits and convenience of ubiquitous connectivity -- the idea that more connected devices can make people's lives easier. But what if that connectedness could also make us healthier?

That theory was floated here on a panel at the GigaOm Structure Connect event by Vijay Sammeta, chief information officer for the City of San Jose. In the midst of discussion with his fellow panelists about how more sensors deployed in cities can do things like cut the cost of operating streetlights and make it easier to find parking, Sammeta spoke up about what he believes to be the IoT's true potential.

"The real value of sensors and the IoT is healthcare," he said. "City data provides good early indicators for what's going on in communities that could have a profound impact on the population. It isn't the be all and end all, but it's a major player and contributor to healthcare initiatives."

What Sammeta was actually referring to, of course, was the analytics applied to the data collected by sensors in cities -- analytics that could help determine, for example, why people in a specific sector of an urban area are getting sick more frequently. (More pollution? More chemicals? More rats?) The ability to analyze that data, he said, is what makes all the sensors make sense.

"The cost of sensors is coming down at an exponential rate," Sammeta said. "The difference is the value you're driving out of the data -- the secondary benefits."


Want to understand the critical role analytics plays in the service provider world? Register to attend Light Reading's Telecom Analytics World event in Atlanta on November 11. And for more on the Internet of Things, check out the agenda for the Carrier IoT: Making Money From Machines event, also in Atlanta, on February 10.


Sammeta's fellow panelists -- representing Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and the Argonne National Laboratory -- concurred about the importance of analytics and how the ability to analyze collected data can reshape the way cities or companies operate and the services they provide. Cisco has itself recently added analytics capabilities to its video-based IoT security platforms, for example, with the aim of making the data collected from video surveillance more useful. (See Cisco Applies Analytics to IoT Video.)

The implication for all players involved in the IoT -- including operators of communications networks, whose role in the IoT is often unclear -- is that the value of the IoT is not just in the convenience of connected devices and sensors, but in the application of intelligence gleaned from all those "things." In a connected world, it's the data collected that can be the key to solving big problems.

"We're looking for indicators that will let cities move from reactive to proactive policy -- that will make cities more effective by using data," said Charlie Catlett, senior computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. "As cities put more sensors and thus more data out there, these analytics become more feasible."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading

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Phil_Britt 10/31/2014 | 2:37:17 PM
Re: Killer Health App As you point out, we don't need IoT to tell us that bacon is bad for us (though it tastes soo good), or that Super Sizing everything will make us fat. But feedback frofm FitBit and similar devices can help people better understand the links between things like exercise, sleep, diet and health. It's taking the concept of getting on a scale to the next level. If you never get on the scale, you may not notice small weekly weight gains until your clothes don't fit. If you never see your heart rate, you may not notice until it's too late that it's been getting dangerously high or low.
DHagar 10/30/2014 | 4:07:08 PM
Re: Killer Health App SachinEE, that makes great sense.  It will work as a system.  And, as you point out, as hospitals become major users, it will provide a foundation.  That, coupled with Cities' support of population health and Healthy Cities will result in a public/private health network that will utilize the AI.
SachinEE 10/30/2014 | 2:24:52 PM
Re: Killer Health App "SachinEE, exactly.  That capability, tied with the personal data know from Apps provides another layer of "intelligence" (AI), from which to better plan and provide resources as a city/county.

I think it adds a whole new layer of information that will enable public/private providers to better manage the resources available."

I think Health apps will be common in a couple of years. Then they would be secure, easy to use, and would actually go into a cloud storage that is monitored by the patients parent hospital. We're talking about entire AI systems in hospitals that will be checking out every form of data that comes into its servers.
DHagar 10/27/2014 | 12:24:59 PM
Re: Killer Health App SachinEE, exactly.  That capability, tied with the personal data know from Apps provides another layer of "intelligence" (AI), from which to better plan and provide resources as a city/county.

I think it adds a whole new layer of information that will enable public/private providers to better manage the resources available.
SachinEE 10/25/2014 | 3:25:22 PM
Re: Killer Health App "What I take from Jason's article, that I have heard about is the use of IoT for people to gather better information themselves and draw from databases that profile activities that either build or weaken one's health.  I take it that it is a feedback mechanism for individuals, but drawing on databases on health."

There are many adaptive forms of sensors (with proper algorithms stringing them together) that form the miniature control centres and AIs for data collection. They can learn about databases and configure them according to their own uses.
SachinEE 10/25/2014 | 3:23:33 PM
Re: Killer Health App For mapping we've got many forms of third party cloud analytics providing us with myriad levels of security and analysis. Data mining and data storing can be safely left in the hands of such analytics as long as it stays safe.
DHagar 10/23/2014 | 6:25:23 PM
Re: Killer Health App mendyk, you are so right!  That takes them into reality and ActII.  If they get that right, they will have real value, otherwise, not.
mendyk 10/23/2014 | 2:36:42 PM
Re: Killer Health App I agree that IoT combined with the whole big data/advanced analytics thing can yield better-quality information. But mapping this better information to reality is where the real challenge is. That's a whole different -- and much more difficult -- proposition. Ask anyone in Detroit who longs for the good old days of actually having water service.
DHagar 10/23/2014 | 12:07:31 PM
Re: Killer Health App mendyk,  Good healthy skepticsm! 

What I take from Jason's article, that I have heard about is the use of IoT for people to gather better information themselves and draw from databases that profile activities that either build or weaken one's health.  I take it that it is a feedback mechanism for individuals, but drawing on databases on health.

Regarding cities, it guides them, which many are now doing, in developing public policies that minimizes negative impact on health and builds more healthy communities - such as outlined in the Healthy Populations data that has been collected on socio-economic issues, as well as health, for the past 20 years.  This would just allow a connection for individuals to that data.

Sound more promising?
DHagar 10/23/2014 | 11:58:46 AM
Re: Killer Health App Joe, I am certrain that one can "investigate" and extract some personal identification and reconstruct.  I think, however, as with what already exists with CDC and other health research registries, that there is a "general" level of comfort that participation in health discovery trends or benchmarks as to one's personal health status relative to the "collected data" still provides value and works.

Other examples of public data that is generally used, with reasonable anonymity include:  census data, labor data, IRS, social security.
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