The Internet of Things (IoT) is steadily becoming the internet of everything as seemingly every possible object — from smart cities, smart lighting and smart cars to utilities, waste management, medical emergency services, asset tracking and transportation services — can be connected to networks that capture a steady stream of information about the people using it.
However, none of this growth is possible without location awareness provided by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).
Viewed as a utility and often taken for granted, GNSS enables real-time and accurate asset tracking, telematics, timing and other types of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. As the IoT market continues to expand, so will the demands and expectations that are placed on the information these satellite systems supply.
GNSS Steps Up Its IoT-Enablement Game
Now that network connectivity and mobile devices are natural aspects of everyday life, more people are expecting to stay connected. Whether they or their possessions are in a remote forest, mountainous environment or surrounded by skyscrapers in the city, no one wants to have service disrupted whenever a receiver’s line of sight to the navigation satellites is blocked.
For years, different GNSS systems, primarily the United States’ GPS and Russia’s GLONASS, along with China’s BEIDOU, have allowed the military and civil segments of the world economy to locate their devices and compute position accurately and securely. Now with the expansion of global and regional satellite navigation deployment, accuracy and availability have improved immensely.
More recently the European Union (EU) is hoping its Galileo satellite navigation system is a step towards satisfying evolving IoT needs and enabling manufacturers and developers to create new devices and applications that leverage added services such as the Search and Rescue Service (SAR).
India’s recent deployment of its NavIC regional system adds another layer of GNSS satellite availability and opportunity.
What Next-Gen GNSS Means for Your Business
As GNSS systems continue to improve and evolve, IoT and cloud-based possibilities and applications are endless.
Here are five areas businesses should consider now:
- Assets connected within a network: With a geofencing capability, companies can manage and track their assets remotely in real time and be alerted when that asset moves. The latest low-power and energy-efficient technologies provide a longer battery. With the latest advancements in cloud-based computing, the amount of assets tracked and managed has greatly multiplied.
- Intelligent vehicle and highway systems: With the increasing interest and innovation of autonomous driving, the IoT can provide critical, real-time information not only to aid the GNSS receiver for navigation in harsh environments but also to assist the driver with forecasting information. Along with the fusion of multiple sensors, GNSS combined with IoT will be a necessary part of this technology.
- Health and safety: From medical alerts to the tracking of patients, organs and valuable equipment, the combination of GNSS and IoT can not only save lives with critical real-time health information tagged to a location but also increase the efficiency of monitoring vital symptoms.
- Clock and time synchronization: Applications related to clock and time synchronization are increasing rapidly. Telecom networks, electrical grids and now even the world of finance rely on accurate, coordinated time. The synchronization and transfer of UTC can easily be accomplished with accurate timing provided by a GNSS receiver and IoT.
- Security: With the improvements in anti-jamming and anti-spoofing protection for civilian users, the latest in GNSS technology will provide more robust and secure alarm notification. This additional line of defense will help ensure that devices and the systems connected to them won't fall victim to hackers looking to misreport location.
This is just the beginning of an era of a spectacular technology that will increase the functionality of location-based devices. Easy access to the location of people, assets and services is quickly becoming the standard for mainstream as well as niche use cases for IoT.
As opportunities for innovation emerge and as chipset technologies evolve, businesses will be able to leverage new ways to meet the fast-changing requirements of the marketplace. For this reason, IoT solutions should employ GNSS devices that have the leading-edge technology necessary to take advantage of today’s sophisticated satellite systems and the flexibility to seize future opportunities.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on December 18, 2017, and has since been updated.