In osmosis-like fashion, the IoT (Internet of Things), M2M, and smart-city movement have become so excitedly discussed in recent years that it has seeped from the tech labs, industry journals, and big tech boardrooms to where it’s impact is probably most hotly anticipated at the kitchen table, the staff canteen, and our public spaces.
The decades of IoT promise have been realized throughout the last 18 months, with proven smart city systems now in the public realm, materializing what were once science fiction-esque predictions of how smart sensors and even smarter platforms would transform our lives both personally and professionally.
In a short space of time, IoT solutions have become part of the furniture in many first and second world cities across the globe. Parking spots, traffic lights, the air around us, and even people themselves are now being monitored with sensors of different sizes and functions to create highly intelligent systems that facilitate a better way of living.
To summarize the concept: The Internet of Things has unmistakably arrived.
The goal of IoT has always been to add a layer of connectivity over “things,” enabling them to come alive by sending and/or receiving data or commands, thus connecting the unconnected. But we should look beyond the classic examples of IoT such as parking space sensors, because as declared with the very earliest conversations about IoT, the possibilities are limitless.
Take for example, something you probably don’t consider much—clothing donation bins! Found on almost every street corner, parking lot, or gas station, clothing donation bins have become a very effective way of:
1) Charitable organizations raising funding for programs or to provide aid.
2) Recycling, which diverts reusable clothing from landfills.
There’s nothing particularly special about a clothing donation bin. It’s sturdy, it opens and closes easily, and it protects donated clothing until a scheduled collection occurs. Nice job clothing bin.
But, we are now in the IoT age where an unconnected “thing,” like a clothing bin, is technologically unfulfilled. So how do you bring the simple bin to life? Irish IoT company, SmartBin, has the answer.
SmartBin provide an intelligent monitoring solution to dozens of charitable organizations such as Goodwill Industries, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Salvation Army, by deploying small wireless fill-level sensors to their clients’ donation bins. The smart sensors then report the bins fill-level, GPS (global positioning system) location, temperature, and much more to the SmartBin Live Web portal via cellular networks. Charities simply log on to SmartBin Live and send collection routes to their drivers that include only the clothing bins that are full of donated clothing and ready for collection from the drivers.
By deploying this simple yet ingenious technology solution, charity orgnizations can now save on fuel usage, driver hours, and even unnecessary investments such as truck purchases or rentals. Optimized collections return vastly increased donation volumes per mile driven.
But it doesn’t stop there. The SmartBin Live platform actually calculates how much a route will cost to collect and the value of material to be collected before the charity dispatches a truck. The donation bin is the collector’s most valuable asset, generating a constant stream of used clothing.
Surprisingly, this is also a very volatile industry where clothing bins can often be tampered with, have clothing stolen from them, or sometimes be stolen themselves. SmartBin has an answer for this too.
In the peculiarly likely event that clothing has been stolen from a bin, SmartBin alerts its clients immediately with a notification via email and SMS.
If the entire clothing bin has been stolen, SmartBin not only alerts clients following a container tilt alert, but can track the location of the stolen container via GPS monitoring, greatly increasing the likelihood of its recovery.
SmartBin’s asset protection features are perhaps appreciated most by the Loss Prevention Managers that many charities employ. Considering the high cost of each clothing bin, SmartBin has proven to be a no-brainer for charities across the world.
So there we are. Thanks to a positively disruptive solution like SmartBin, what was a humdrum industry has become completely revolutionized by the availability of unprecedented business intelligence. Increased funding, decreased spending, and asset protection in an instant—this is IoT in its purest form.
It’s the essence of the entire movement—leveraging technology to remove the inefficiencies we didn’t necessarily know we even had.
And this further strengthens the claim that IoT solutions are a force for good that will leave no industry untouched.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, we have gone from IoT concept to IoT commercialization. And the most exciting part—this Io-Thing has just gotten started.
Brendan Walsh, CEO, SmartBin