Microsoft VP: IoT can prepare cities for natural disasters

In a month when raging fires have caused unprecedented destruction across California, Microsoft's corporate VP has stressed the importance of using data across Internet of Things (IoT) platforms as a way of making cities better equipped to face natural disasters.

IoT is an emerging revolution in the sustainability business space, helping corporates to drive improvements in a range of areas, from environmental monitoring to energy management.

Connecting physical objects through a giant network, the technology allows for a level of real-time information never seen before, enabling the potential for unprecedented levels of insight, prediction and real-time control over production process.

In the past two years alone, 90% of the data in the world has been generated, and this has only accelerated with the growth of the IoT.

“For the first time, we have the accumulation of data,” Microsoft’s corporate VP Vahé Torossian told delegates at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona last week. “All of these solutions are possible because of the ecosystem around the data. The biggest challenge is to understand what are we trying to solve.”

Reducing damage

Torossian was speaking in a week where the Camp fire blaze in California destroyed 10,000 homes and claimed at least 79 lines, in the deadliest American wildfire of the century. He claimed that, armed with appropriate forewarnings through big data and IoT, cities can significantly reduce the impact of future disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

“The ability to have a real world and a virtual world that can simulate will be able help to prevent national and international catastrophes,” he said. “If you think about the catastrophes we have witnessed in recent times, now we have real-time information that helps you respond to the question, ‘what if something else happens?’.”

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would invest $5bn in IoT over the next five years. The company believes its IoT platforms can help to unlock the potential of smart cities, driving massive growth in the diverse domains of urban mobility, transportation, buildings, energy, water and security.

“IoT could be used for any type of decision that the city might want to take,” Torossian said. “If you think about leakage from the home and corporations, we now have enough information now to drive this forward. The biggest challenge that we see in resource efficiency at the moment is outage of energy. Now with the metering information that we have, we can prevent that outage.

“The consequence is that the information that you have is a powerful tool that you can see has a return on investment and can communicate to cities the value that it is worth. We can very quickly see the return on investment.”

edie Explains: Internet of Things guide

Organisations seeking to capitalise on the sustainability benefits offered by the Internet of Things (IoT) now have access to a new edie Explains guide which breaks down everything you need to know about deploying IoT technology across your operations. You can download that guide for free, here

George Ogleby

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