woman using smartphone part of the Internet of Things

In today’s connected world, you’ve probably heard or become familiar with the term Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT basically describes a network that allows more and more internet-capable devices to connect to and even communicate with one another by sharing or transferring data. Think of smart thermostats or home security systems that you can check in on or control from your phone. Now think any other items you might own or have heard of with the same type of capabilities.

This list is becoming so long, the idea of endless items that impact even the simplest of mundane tasks no longer seems futuristic or far-fetched as it may have in the not-so-distant past. So, knowing this, you may wonder—How might the IoT affect my everyday life?

Around the House

Okay. Here’s an area where there are probably the most commonly noticeable possibilities. Many newer models of home appliances are built “smart.” Vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and washing machines not only feature load size or soil level detections and delay start functions; many are being built with app control, so you can program and start them from your phone or tablet.

TVs, lighting systems, some ovens and other smart appliances can even be paired to smart speakers, like Amazon Echo or Google Home. All of these things intertwining via your Wi-Fi signal means many of the things you do around the house can be done by voice command or by a simple tap in an app.

In You Vehicle

If you’ve purchased a new vehicle in the last few years, it may have features such as a built-in navigation system, predictive maintenance, voice command and app controls to start, and lock your car from your phone. These connected mechanisms make for some very useful tools.

Additionally many new vehicles have the ability to become mobile hotspots, so you’ll have convenient Wi-Fi service while on the go, no matter where you are.

At Work

In this day and age, to say you’re at work could mean you’re almost anywhere—working from home, in the car, visiting grandma’s house. As long as you have Wi-Fi access, many companies have programs in place for employees to connect to the company network remotely. This makes work from home (WFH) and flex schedule options a very attractive incentive for some employers to offer their staff.

At Play

Once upon a time, kids playing with their friends meant going to each other’s homes. Maybe they’d hop on the Super Nintendo® and take turns playing Super Mario Bros.™ Now days kids and adults alike have access to the internet through their gaming systems, allowing them to connect to a gaming network and play together from separate locations—even from the car if it’s set up as a mobile hotspot as mentioned earlier.

In School

As we saw in 2020, the IoT was perhaps the most useful tool for classroom instruction. Teachers and professors could connect to their schools’ networks from home to maintain access they needed for submitting lesson plans and grades. They could also connect on different platforms to teach and manage daily assignments for their students who were also logging in to a shared network from home.

Your Electric Cooperative

If you’re a GVEC member, you may have already seen the IoT in convenient apps and services now offered. Signing up for TextPower allows you to report outages or check outage statuses by a mere one-word text message. It can also send you text messages to let you know you’re experiencing an outage and the estimated restoration time as meters communicate to our system when they are not in power.

Our SmartHub® app allows you to check usage, track consumption data, and update payment methods or pay your bill from the convenience of your phone.

But perhaps the biggest benefits the IoT has brought to GVEC are those on the backend that may not be as visible to our members—like creating a smarter, more connected electric grid. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software, implemented in 2019, is designed to connect, monitor and coordinate individual parts of our network, helping us to efficiently manage and operate our grid across our service area. Our growing fiber network forms the backbone to work in conjunction with SCADA software. It improves our ability to remotely monitor our electric grid in real time, helps to better identify trouble spots and in some cases can even help prevent outages before they occur.

We’re All Connected

These are only a few examples of how so many devices, appliances and things in our everyday lives are becoming more connected through the IoT. As new technology constantly emerges, it becomes even more expansive. It can only make you wonder how many more conveniences and unthought-of ways our daily lives will be influenced and how much more connected our world will become in the near future.

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