Forecasters are talking big numbers: 50 billions, 100 billions, 1 trillion. They are talking about sensors.
There are already billions of them, in our homes, in cars, in the environment. And they are growing fast. So the figure of 50 billions forecasted by Ericsson in 2015 does not seem far fetched at all. Nor a 100 billion figure in the following years. May be, the 1 trillion sensors forecasted by HP by 2020 is too big. But I wouldn’t be too sure. It correspond to 130 sensors per person and we may get there.
Graphic display of information derived from sensors data spread over a territory
We do not need to wait for those big numbers, we can start exploiting the big numbers we already have!
There is a lot of sensitivity behind the idea of using sensors data. These data can reveal private information, directly or indirectly through correlation. And Telecom Operators, that are in a wonderful position to gather a significant amount of data (any cell phone is a sensor, providing at the very least localization information in real time) are wary on using them, not to mention opening them up to third party usage.
We have been talking about our age as the Information Society Age, and, true enough, we generate massive amount of data, we are flooded by them but we are just marginally exploit them. These data are usually embedded within processes and are not accessible to third parties.
Just think about the difference it made when Apple opened up the links to the inner cell phone to third parties letting them develop applications. There are now over 450,000 of them. Compare this number with the number of services that cell phones where providing before this opening and nothing more needs to be said.
The same is going to happen once sensors data are made available. Expect an unexpected avalanche of services.
As Telcos are pondering on what to do with these data other parties are at hard at work to make this happen.
One of them is Pachube, a UK start up (it started in 2007) that is providing access to sensor’s data whose owners have agreed on their disclosure. Pachube set up a cloud to let third parties access the data to crunch them and provide services. They charge 2$ a month to get access to historical data or to large quantity of them, whilst current data are available for free.
Today they get feeds from 6 million sensorsa day from all over the world and this number is growing fast.
Pachube collects sensors data from all over the world
Are Telcos ready for this new business or will they see the train of opportunities pass before their eyes?