In Style + Design

How ‘The Internet-Of-Things’ Will Change Our World

Can you imagine a world without Uber Eats, Facebook, Google Maps, and Airbnb? Not so long ago, having to call the delivery driver on the land line, thumb through a street directory and visit the travel agent were normal tasks. Now, they seem distinctly retro.

Fleet’s Flavia Tata Nardini describes what we now know to be the internet as “the internet-of-people.” Since being accessible to the public in the mid-90s, the World Wide Web has continuously transformed our daily lives, and the economy. Her company, co-founded after a lengthy career in the European space industry, is on the cusp of launching a new phase with similar implications: “the internet-of-things.”

What is this internet-of-things thing?

Fleet’s Flavia Tata Nardini Photo: Supplied

When the internet and then smart phones first started appearing at tech expos, few businesses understood what it meant for them. As an advocate for Fleet, Nardini has experienced a similar reaction, she says.

“When we talk about internet-of-things, people’s initial reaction is “that sounds complicated, we don’t even know what it means””

In simple terms, by launching a network of miniature satellites into orbit, it will be possible to place tiny communication devices upon objects, which will allow the sending and receiving of information to those objects.

For example, a freight company could attach a transmitter to every item that they deliver, tracking their precise location, and even things such as their temperature. A farmer could do similarly to their livestock and crops. These are just the most obvious initial ideas in an infinite field.

What problems could it solve?

Nardini believes that many of the world’s problems, particularly waste, are caused by an inability to measure. The internet-of-things can fix this, she says,

“It’s difficult to track everything when you don’t have internet everywhere; it’s difficult to measure things when you don’t know how to connect them.”

“We’re getting to a point where I don’t think that we do work very efficiently. In my work at Fleet, we see farms and farmers and food producers wasting so much food and so much resources, because they can’t measure what they do.”

This could have vast implications for not only business efficiency, but also endemic problems like world hunger and environmental catastrophe.

“If you look at the numbers, they don’t stack up: we waste 60 percent of our food supply chain.”

Given that we waste over half the food we produce, imagine how we could transform the planet if we had the technology to eliminate this waste?

Climate change induced environmental chaos could similarly be tackled with the new tech. Nadini, who was born in Italy but now resides in Adelaide, gives an example that is close to her adopted home.

“The Great Barrier Reef is struggling and the coral is dying and everyone is trying to fix it but most of the time, you don’t know where the problem is, because you have to measure.”

How can companies ride the impending wave?

Between 1997 and 2001, the dot com bubble expanded and burst, as businesses and speculators invested heavily in internet-based companies. History is repeating. When Flavia co-founded Fleet in Adelaide in 2015, it was one-of-a-kind in Australia. Now there are at least 60 other companies operating in the field.

With such exponential growth, how can your business cash in and is it possible to avoid the mistakes of last time? Mistakes might all be a necessary part of it, Nardini says.

“Who would have predicted that Amazon would become Amazon? That was an example of a revolution. It was just a guy starting from his garage. I don’t think you can understand who’s going to be the winner and who’s going to be the loser.”

“I think it’s a little bit natural selection. “Who understands where the world’s going?”

There are some practical steps that you can take, though, to minimise the risk of failure, she says.

“The best way to create this future is to be very close to the people who have the issue. [Often] we create the solutions thinking they are going to be used but they are not.”

If you really want to understand where the planet is headed, you can attend Hybrid World Adelaide this July, and hear Nardini and others speak about this brave new world.

Hybrid World Adelaide is to be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre From July 20 to 24.

Published 11 July, 2018