jay_palaceHave you heard about the third wave of global innovation known as the Internet of Things?

You probably have — and your organization is more than likely contemplating how to participate in this wave of innovation. So for people who are unfamiliar with IoT: What is all the fuss about? What is this IoT? What could it mean for Colorado Springs, its citizens, its businesses, local government and education institutions?

I am privileged to be at the heart of this revolution, which is active across the world and empowers many organizations, governments and technology giants to participate in this purpose-driven (r)evolution.

OK, so what is this IoT? Put simply, the IoT is understanding what is happening in the physical world at any moment, and then using the data to take intelligent action. In essence, it is about creating intelligence, increasing efficiencies, generating sustainability and positive economic impact within every aspect of society and make it “smart” — from the home, to business, to government.

Imagine billions of sensors deployed in our physical world — throughout our environment, across our farmlands, throughout our cities, in our clothes, on animals, in our homes. Sensors measure information from their physical location and communicate the data over wireless networks.

IoT applications use this data, after it’s stored in the cloud, to create information and intelligence that help make decisions. Businesses can use IoT to automate or to become more energy-efficient. In people’s personal lives, it helps find the closest parking space to a meeting or detect an illness before it becomes chronic.

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In essence, IoT brings the analog, physical world (planet, living things, resources and assets) into the digital world.

Because IoT has billions of sensors deployed in the physical world, it is no surprise that markets and applications are unlimited. As Einstein famously said, “Imagination makes the world go round.” You see, IoT invites us to imagine a more efficient, smarter, environmentally friendly and sustainable world; it also empowers us to create that world.

Any citizen has easy access to a choice of technologies to build IoT solutions. Everyone can get involved.

Sounds a bit intangible? And what is this global perspective with a local touch all about? What could it mean for Colorado Springs?

One of my very good friends and business colleagues, Chris Rezendes, launched IoT Impact Labs, based in a New Bedford, Mass. New Bedford is the nation’s biggest fishing port and its citizens are primarily blue-collar workers.

Chris developed local, national and global alliances — including a public-private partnership of more than 200 organizations with the participation of Fortune 500 technology giants and the White House. His IoT Impact labs work closely with small businesses in New Bedford to bring IoT solutions into their business operations that increase efficiency, optimize revenue and create jobs.

About 70 projects are underway. This IoT innovation model is an economic development play and is being adopted internationally.

The local touch goes global.

Colorado Springs could readily partner — or even duplicate this model — to realize its own future using IoT. It is fundamental to develop alliances and build community across the public and private sectors, reaching out to local powerhouses like Ball Aerospace and focus on markets and products Colorado Springs is passionate about.

Opportunities abound to deliver IoT with purpose into Colorado Springs, throughout its public and private sectors and maybe expedite into a kind of “utopian” future akin to the Garden of the Gods. The great playwright George Bernard Shaw laid down a new mindset to one of his students, “You keep saying, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ I think you may go further by asking the question — ‘Why not?’”

Colorado Springs could go further in its leadership in IoT. Local manufacturing could become involved in developing IoT sensors and devices.

The area’s strong manufacturing base and the formation of Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance-South offers unique strengths to making IoT a reality in Colorado Springs. The agility within local manufacturing facilities means we can work closely with organizations that are developing IoT solutions from requirements capture, to trials, to roll out.

Adjustments are always needed. The local, human touch is not lost. Furthermore, I see no reason why a set of manufacturing best practices and templates could not be developed and licensed to other locales. In partnership with CAMA, we can leverage the Colorado Springs manufacturing base at a kind of “IoT manufacturing Silicon Valley.”

Is IoT a global utopia? Will technology save us from ourselves?

I don’t know, but IoT is an invitation for Colorado Springs to imagine a smarter locale. We can use IoT to make citizens’ lives smarter and more fun, forge new economic alliances and show global leadership that we can use our local manufacturing base to create all those billions of IoT sensors.

Jay Palace, president  of Linear Manufacturing, can be reached through the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance at 719-213-3923.