Internet of Things D100

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A definition for the Internet of Things (IoT) can be as simple as “the connection of devices... to the Internet.” Moreover, IoT devices include any stand-alone internet-connected device that can be monitored and/or controlled remotely [1]. Although the definition may seem simple, IoT has many different components that work together across a multitude of industries and arguably affects every individual.

Components of IoT

IoT includes several components that work together to allow devices to not only observe and monitor but communicate as well. First, IoT includes devices and sensors that continuously collect data from their surroundings and communicate to transmit the information to the next layer or device. Then, the IoT Gateway manages the “bidirectional data traffic between different networks and protocols”. It is also able to translate different network protocols and ensure “interoperability of the connected devices and sensors”[2]. Moreover, IoT inevitably creates massive amounts of data as a product of constant monitoring, feeding into several applications and used by several individuals. In order to allow for this, IoT uses Cloud Computing to “collect, process, manage and store” this overwhelming amount of data in the real-time it is collected and allow for accessibility by many individuals from many devices. Once the data is accessible and securely stored, ‘smart analytics’ solutions are required to help IoT management shift through the mass of information and derive meaningful insights. The final component of IoT is the User Interface (UI), which is the tangible element that can be accessed and used by management. It is essential to create a UI that is intuitive and easy to navigate for users [3].

IoT Market

The current worldwide IoT market has an estimated value of 212 Billion USD, but it’s growing fast. Projections upward of 1,612 Billion USD for the year 2025 indicate that IoT is expected to experience exponential growth in the years to come [4]. Currently, the IoT is utilizing 26.66 billion interconnected devices. However, the growth in market size means an increased number of devices, projected to be 75.44 billion connected worldwide by 2025 [5]. To support this type of growth, the worldwide expenditure on IoT technology is estimated to total 745 billion USD in 2019. By 2025, this figure is estimated to experience a steep increase of over 1 trillion USD [6].

Size of the Internet of Things (IoT) market worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 to 2025 (in billions)

Prediction of worldwide expenditures for the Internet of Things from 2018 to 2022 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Iot undoubtedly encompasses a wide array of areas. The following sections will address personal, industry, environmental and business implications as well as security challenges and concerns.

Personal Uses

IoT can influence many factors in our personal lives, making us feel more comfortable and convenient. IoT can change the way our homes operate when we incorporate smart home systems. In addition, IoT can modify our lifestyles through wearables and other health catered smart technologies.

Home Automation

Home automation is a home setup in which devices and appliances are connected to a network, which enables users to remotely control them from anywhere using a central device such as a smartphone or tablet [7]. Below shows a picture of smart devices that people may have in their home.

Smart Home Technologies

Main benefits in home automation include: [8]

  • Energy Efficiency - Saving energy in a home through smart thermostats and lights as these devices will recognize when to go energy-saving modes after learning their users’ schedules
  • Home Security - Monitoring a home from anywhere through smart cameras
  • Remote Control - Controlling smart devices from anywhere through a mobile device

Home Automation Market

The home automation market is expanding at a rapid rate. In 2019, the revenue in the market amounts to $1.285 billion (USD) in Canada and $73.5 billion (USD) in the worldwide market. In 2023, the smart home market revenue in Canada will be $2.29 billion and $153 billion in the worldwide market. The graphs below show six categories in the smart home market, including home entertainment, energy management, comfort and lighting, home entertainment, control and connectivity, security, and smart appliances. Of the six groups, smart appliances generate the highest revenue whereas energy management is projected to bring in the lowest revenue.

Smart Home Technologies

There is a vast variety of smart home devices in the market. People can purchase individual smart devices and control them on separate apps, or buy a smart hub and control all the smart devices through one central app. A smart hub is a hardware device that connects the devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them. A smart hub is a hardware device that connects the devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them. [9] A few that are popular in the market are Google’s Home Hub, Samsung’s SmartThing, and Amazon’s Alexa. Google’s Home Hub is compatible with over 400 devices and it features a seven-inch touchscreen and Google Assistance. In comparison, Samsung’s SmartThings can connect to almost 400 devices and it can cover up to 1,500 square feet in a home. A feature that the SmartThings has is that it can connect to additional units of SmartThings if people need their smart hubs to cover a larger area.

Hue White & Color Ambiance Smart A19 Bulb, Bluetooth and Zigbee Compatible

Popular smart home systems include home monitoring and security, lighting control, smart plugs, and smart thermostats. Smart home monitoring and security include energy monitoring appliances, cameras, door locks, and doorbells. An example of an energy monitoring device is the Sense Home Energy. This is an energy monitoring device that attaches to the energy panel in a home and it can automatically identify the appliances in a home over time and measure the energy level that each appliance uses. The Sense Home Energy app sends its users reports for their monthly energy usage statistics [10]. The Ring’s smart video doorbells and stick-up cameras allow its customers to maximize the security of their homes. The doorbell allows the buyers to see who is at their door and answer the door from anywhere through the Ring app [11]. The stick-up camera can be used indoor and outdoor [12]. It contains motion sensors which let its users see, hear and speak to anyone through the camera. A highly rated smart lock in the market is the August smart lock. The smart lock app allows homeowners to open their front door from anywhere. The smart lock can also identify with the users’ Bluetooth so it will automatically open the door when the user is near the door. The users’ friends and family can also download the app and be given scheduled entry access [13]. A trendy lighting system is the Philip Hues bulbs. Customers can control the lighting of their home through the Hue app or a smart hub. They can choose to buy the Philips Hue Bridge to unlock more features or simply buy the Bluetooth light bulbs. The Hue Bridge uses the Zigbee network which can help connect up to 50 lights whereas the Bluetooth lights will only allow users to control up to 10 light bulbs [14]. Smart plugs allow purchasers to turn on or off the appliances that are connected to the smart plugs through an app [15]. For example, if an owner plugs in the coffee machine and lamp into the smart plug, the owner can remotely turn on and off the coffee machine and create a schedule for the lamp to turn on and off through the smart plug app. Essentially, smart plugs can turn ordinary devices into smart devices. Smart thermostats can be controlled remotely through an app. Over time, the Nest Thermostat can learn when its owners are home or away and how they like the temperate in the house throughout the day without users needing to manually program it [16]. Both smart plugs and smart thermostats can help save energy over the long run.


Aside from home automation, IoT devices such as wearables and health systems can make changes to someone’s lifestyle as well.


Wearables include devices such as activity trackers and smart clothing. Fitbit that launched in 2008 was one of the first activity trackers to gain mass popularity [17]. Later, companies such as Apple and Samsung also debuted their versions of activity trackers. These activity trackers can track heart rate, sleep, steps, and receive texts and call notifications. Some smart clothing use advanced textiles with interwoven circuitry, while others use sensors and other hardware [18]. Smart clothes can range from socks to business wears. Samsung made a smart shirt that contains sensors that detect and monitor the lung sounds of the wearers. This information is then sent to the app where athletes or people with lung health issues can view their lung health. Another company that creates a range of smart clothing is Xenoma. They have clothes for infants that can inform parents of their child’s posture, breathing, and other vitals. They also have motion sensor embedded pajamas that patients can wear to alert staff when a patient is moving [19]. This can be useful for patients with Alzheimers or memory loss to wear as they may get lost.


IoT devices that pertain to health are smart scales, blood pressure monitors and more. Smart scales take a person’s measurements using bioelectrical impedance analysis, which involves passing a weak electrical current through the person’s feet [20]. A smart scale can measure a person’s weight, bone density, water percentage, body fat percentage and more. Most smart scales can also be connected to an activity tracker to give the users more about their overall health. Smart blood pressure monitors measure blood pressure and heart rate through an arm cuff, which then sends the information through Bluetooth to the app. These portable blood pressure monitors are convenient for people with health issues to monitor and keep a record of their blood pressure.

Industrial Uses

Industrial IoT has expansive uses, ranging from manufacturing to tracking KPI’s. The implications of IoT in the healthcare and retail industry with be outlined in the following section. Furthermore, a specific example of how Starbucks has adopted IoT throughout its operations will be provided.

Health Care

Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)

Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) is the “process of providers entering and sending treatment instructions - including medication, laboratory, radiology orders - via a computer application”. [21] When implemented, the system allows for better care for patients and accessibility to information. The features of this system include:

  • Order medication via any device or work station instead of filling out a paper chart
  • Search the latest patient information and patient history, enabling better patient care
  • Determine patient allergies and drug-to-drug interactions, ensuring the safety of patients
  • Mimic workflow of a paper chart, allowing for efficiency
  • Access to information via various devices

The benefits of converting to a CPOE are the following:

  • Enhances patient safety by reducing medication errors due to handwritten prescriptions
  • Allows a quicker turnaround on orders submitted by healthcare providers
  • Streamlines reimbursements for insurance plans

Despite the various benefits associated with the system, there is a likely chance that users will experience “alert fatigue”, which is when a user is exposed to many alerts, including audio and visual, and they become desensitized to all of them. This leads to them ignoring important messages and alerts. However, to combat this issue, the system will not let the user proceed unless they have resolved a high-alert flag.[22]

Virtual Reality

The use of virtual reality (VR) within the healthcare industry has revolutionized not only how surgeons perform surgeries, but also the recovery period for the patient. VR in the healthcare industry allows for a holistic experience for those that interact with it. By 2020, it is predicted that the global market for VR in the healthcare industry will be worth upwards of $3.8 billion. There are a multitude of applications of VR in this industry, and the following sections will present its uses in medical training and treatment.

Currently, training surgeons require the use of cadavers, which limits their learning as real-life surgery may not unfold the same. However, with VR, surgical training will be revolutionized. Individuals will be fully immersed in their learning as they will be able to experience every detail of human anatomy. Furthermore, VR will be able to replicate real-life scenarios, which would not be possible when practising on cadavers. VR will provide an enriching learning experience to all that use it. Moreover, not only will surgeons be able to perfect their own surgical technique using VR, but they can also assist surgeons in rural areas with their surgeries and guide them through the treatments.

Combined with CPOE, VR can allow patients to know exactly what treatment they will be receiving, and other physicians to access this information as well. Overall, this will decrease anxiety levels in patients and generate higher patient satisfaction.[23]


Sensors in Store

There are various uses of IoT within the retail industry and a wide range of technologies that enable businesses to make more efficient use of their data. One example of technology that is utilized within retail is the “just walk out technology”.

Just walk out technology is a combination of deep learning algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, image recognition, fusion sensors, and data on how humans shop. Such type of technology connects the online and offline world. A customer enters the store by scanning their phone, which has their online account. As the customer shops, the various types of technology recognize what the customer is adding to their cart and sequentially updates their online cart. Sensors on the shelves detect when a customer returns an item. As well, facial recognition allows for the surveillance system to track the customer's movements throughout the store. After the customer has collected everything on their list, they can simply walk out of the store, and the system will automatically charge their online account. Such technology eliminates the need for waiting in lines and fits into the lifestyle of a busy working individual.[24]


Amazon is utilizing the "just walk out technology" in its convenience store chain, Amazon-Go. The first store opened in December 2016 in Seattle. Three years later, there are a total of 11 stores across the United States. Through Amazon’s implementation of this technology, they are revolutionizing the way customers shop. The data that they collect as customers shop can be used for the following purposes:

  • Determine shoppers’ flow as they walk around the store and display items that will maximize sales
  • Utilize deep learning algorithms to determine what products are purchased at what times to decrease prices and guarantee customer satisfaction [25]


With Starbucks serving over 100 million customers per week, it is essential that the whole customer experience be seamless. Starbucks usage of IoT can be more simply put as the “Internet of Starbucks Things” due to how they have partnered with Microsoft to implement IoT in all aspects of their business and improving the experience. As described by the Starbucks executive vice president and chief technology officer, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, “everything we do in technology is centered around the customer connection in the store, the human connection, one person, one cup, one neighbourhood at a time”.[26]

Reinforcement Learning

Through the use of reinforcement learning - “a type of machine learning in which a system learns to make decisions in complex, unpredictable environments based upon external feedback” - Starbucks has been able to enhance their mobile app to make it more personalized for the user. In the USA, 34% of customers use the mobile app to pay for their orders, and 12% of orders are placed using the app. Thus, ensuring that the app is able to predict and make personalized recommendations allows Starbucks to increase their revenue and create a more personal connection with their customers. Using reinforcement learning, which is built by Microsoft Azure, the app recommends products that the customer will actually enjoy. 16 million users of the app worldwide will receive recommendations based on local store inventory, popular selections, weather, time of day, community preferences and previous orders. As well, Starbucks is taking this technology a step further by implementing into their drive-thru’s, increasing the likelihood of customer satisfaction.[27]

IoT Enabled Coffee Machines

In order to increase customer satisfaction, Starbucks also has to deliver a product of exceptional quality. Thus with the help of Microsoft Azure Sphere, their coffee machines are now connected in the cloud. The introduction of IoT-enabled machines allows for a decrease in disruptions due to coffee machine repairs, and a greater time spent on perfecting beverages. These machines will “collect more than a dozen data points for every shot of espresso pulled, from the type of beans used to the coffee’s temperature and water quality, generating more than 5 megabytes of data in an eight-hour shift”. In order to make this as cost-efficient as possible, an external module - the guardian module - will be attached to all current machines, which will allow Starbucks to securely collect data and take a proactive approach towards identifying any problems with the machines. As well, in the past, when Starbucks unveiled a new recipe, they had to hand-deliver thumb drives to their 30,000 stores. However, with the introduction of this technology, the new recipes will be directly sent to the machines, streamlining the process of product innovation.[28]


Starbucks dedication to its customers and ensuring that they have an exceptional experience is pushing them to unveil a new component to their app that will utilize blockchain to display the journey of their coffee. The information provided in the app will include where the coffee was grown, how those farmers are being supported, where it was roasted, and more.[29] This will increase transparency not only for the customer but also the farmers by showcasing their commitment to ethically sourcing their products. Customers will be able to see the impact that the coffee they bought from a local store has on the farmers across the globe.

Environmental Uses

In addition to the lifestyle and industrial improvements brought on by IoT advancements, there is an optimistic and bright future for IoT’s environmental stewardship capabilities. There are several environmental implications including monitoring air quality and pollution, preventing deforestation and poaching and supporting endangered species. Each opportunity for climate action and protection is outlined below in detail, including both beneficial impacts and challenges.

Pollution & Air Quality

Plumelab's 'Flow' personal air quality tracker

It is estimated that poor quality air & pollution kills approximately 9 million people globally and costs $4.6 trillion per year in welfare losses due to pollution, which is equivalent to 6.2% of total global output [30]. Poor air quality and the associated health challenges largely affect those who live in large cities, near busy roads, and manufacturing factories. However, there are many new technologies entering the market with the aim of providing citizens with information on the air quality in their area and policymakers with insights on causes of air pollution and bring awareness to the need for potential protection policies.

Innovative companies such as PlumeLabs are seeing success in pushing the boundaries of IoT’s involvement in environmental protection. Their personal air pollution tracker Flow is available to the public for $179.00 and is built to attach to the user’s bag, purse or clothing. The monitor analyzes the user’s air quality throughout the day using GPS tracking and even goes further to suggest healthier routes to common destinations such as work and home. The company also has an application available for Android and IOS that includes current and forecasted air quality for the user’s city using the current location feature [31]. PlumeLabs is not the only company pursuing air quality monitoring. Greenwich, London also uses the ‘Smogmobile’ as a mobile pollution tracker around the city. The battery-powered vehicle uses sensors to track harmful emissions and provide reports to city policymakers [32]. Moreover, Chicago is another city that is setting an example for using IoT to track air quality and city pollution. Their ‘Array of Things’ is a collection of city-wide sensors that monitor temperature, emissions, city movement and so on. They make this data accessible to citizens through public access portals and work with companies to use data towards actionable change. This includes introducing resources such as applications for people who have health conditions that worsen with poor air quality, such as Asthma [33].

Monitoring air quality is a worthwhile endeavour for various reasons. Firstly, it allows for air quality forecasts and the ability to provide citizens with pollution warnings so they can be more informed and take action to protect their health. Moreover, since the sensor devices are able to provide a street-by-street air quality breakdown city planners are better able to identify the areas with the worst quality and draw insight into why. For example, Chicago’s Array of Things Initiative is working to understand the relationship between shipyard activity and the air quality of the surrounding area during those times [34]. These insights will allow cities to determine whether it is necessary to introduce new policies such as “no burning wood or coal” on certain days. While there are several exciting benefits, there are also several challenges to be considered. Mainly, good sensors that provide accurate readings are extremely expensive. The cheaper alternatives offer lower quality readings as they are unable to pick up finer particles and their readings can be influenced by meteorological conditions [35].


Using IoT to fight deforestation.

On a global scale, deforestation accounts for 15% of all carbon emissions [36]. Efforts to conserve protected forested areas are often frustrated by illegal logging that goes unstopped until the damage is done. However, up-and-coming organizations such as The Rainforest Connection have incorporated IoT into their innovative deforestation solutions. The organization has designed “sensors from old cell phones that, when attached to trees, allow their team to monitor and detect illegal logging and poaching at a great distance”. The sensors are able to listen for certain sounds that are associated with illegal deforestation, such as chainsaws large vehicles in unauthorized areas. Thus, authorities are alerted in real-time and able to take immediate action to stop the illegal activity. In addition, this information can be used to negotiate increased protection of rainforests in certain areas that are experiencing illegal activity [37].

Endangered Animal Welfare and Protection

Bees are crucial to maintaining biodiversity in ecosystems, and in recent years there has been a push to restore their population levels as their livelihood has a serious impact on farming and agriculture. According to Statistics Canada, bee populations within Canada specifically are at an all-time high [38]. This is likely due to efforts from organizations such as The Bee Corp. which focus on placing battery-powered sensors in live hives and monitoring the health of the bee population. Ultimately, the sensors track the temperature of the hive since “when the Queen is healthy, workers keep the temperature steady inside the hive to incubate her eggs” [39]. Thus, when the temperature drops the beekeepers can move in to help maintain the hive. Other organizations, such as the Rhino Rescue Project, are also using monitoring devices to protect endangered animals susceptible to poaching. Project RAPID (Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device) uses three connected devices including a camera, heart rate monitor and GPS tracker to monitor each animal’s status. If the animal becomes distressed, the heart rate monitor will alert conservationists. The camera will provide footage of the poachers in real-time, and the GPS tracker will allow for the quick dispatching to the location [40].

Reducing Energy Consumption

Another significant environmental conservation effort brought forward by IoT is the ability to save energy through smart cities. A ‘smart city’ uses information and communication technologies to “enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation, and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs” [41]. Technologies within smart cities aim to use only the energy they require, therefore eliminating current wasteful habits such as accidentally leaving the lights on or over-charging devices. SkyGrid is Australia-based startup organized that has partnered Quantum Energy, a hot water distributor, in developing a ‘smart’ hot water system for buildings. The ‘smart’ water technology aims to prevent wasting energy on heating water when nobody is using it, which currently wastes 50% of a system’s power [42].

Although many argue that IoT is an energy-saving movement, critiques do exist. For example, the increased reliance on technology will lead to more devices in use, and therefore increasing energy consumption. The former director of the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications at the University of Melbourne Kerry Hinton, Kerry Hinton, has expressed concern that the IoT trend will place a higher demand on “power-hungry devices” such as battery-powered video surveillance systems. With this being said, Hilton also emphasized that the total energy impact of the emerging IoT era will largely depend on the types of devices that are chosen and used [43].

'Oscar' the AI trash can

IoT at Simon Fraser University

Cutting edge technological developments often feel ‘far from home’ as we typically read about them in the news and wait until the product is available to the public. Simon Fraser University (SFU) alumni, Hassan Murad & Vivek Vyas, are bringing innovative trash-sorting to both the Burnaby and Surrey campuses. Meet Oscar, the AI-powered visual sorting system that automatically identifies recycling from trash and instructs users on how to sustainably dispose of their waste. Students are now able to hold their trash up to the camera and follow the provided instructions on how to sort their trash, recycling and organics properly [44].

Key Environmental Insights & Takeaways

IoT as an Environmental Hero or Afterthought?

While some elements of IoT take a necessary and proactive approach to environmental conservation such as energy reduction in smart cities, the arguable majority of the implications are reactive. In order for a rhinoceros to be saved from a poacher, the animal must already be in danger and under attack. In order for the illegal deforestation to be stopped, a portion of the damage must have already had to be done. In taking a reactive approach, the information may be real-time but so is the damage. The environmental implications of IoT undoubtedly connote feelings of optimism as using technological innovations for the planet’s well-being is important and should be recognized. However, IoT can only do so much and its success is reliant upon a government’s commitment to enforcing environmental policies. Monitoring devices are only effective if the information is collected and used to take action, expand conservation areas and punish those such as poachers.

A trade-off: If the wilderness is controlled and monitored, is it still wild?

People often assume wilderness be uninhabited and isolated, however, they are becoming increasingly monitored as environmental tensions heighten. The last discussion point for the environmental impacts of IoT is open-ended as a trade-off each individual must evaluate. First, consider if the information that is collected about people as a product of wildlife observation is a fair price to pay for information on the wellbeing of animals and fauna. If so, consider whether or not federal and provincial parks, conservation areas and backcountry wilderness are still ‘wild’ if they are constantly monitored and data is collected.

Business Implications

Businesses worldwide are realizing that the incorporation of the IoT is necessary to improve and optimize business processes. Below is a closer look at the implications of the IoT in the corporate workplace and how applications of smart device connectivity at the office is changing the way people work.

The Smart Office

Office settings have changed dramatically with the constant improvements of technologies and the greater interconnectivity that individuals have through the IoT. With office equipment becoming smarter, the ‘Smart Office’ concept, a workplace equipped with IoT devices that enables people to work better, faster and smarter through connectivity is becoming more prevalent in offices today [45]. Through beacons, sensors, and mobile apps, employees are able to perform menial tasks better and faster, so they have enough time to focus on growing and innovating their business, as well as increase overall efficiency through improved connectivity and communication [46].

Smart Offices became a hot trend in 2017 when companies realized the need for automated business processes to improve efficiency, reduce operating costs, and to create a connected workplace for employees. Many organizations are transforming pre-existing traditional office spaces of closed offices and cubicles into a smart office open layout that encourages collaboration. Retrofit offices dominate the market in comparison to new construction due to the rising need to adopt energy and cost-efficient technologies [47].

Smart Offices enables several beneficial applications in the workplace:[48]

Users will no longer need to carry a laptop into work. Instead, through a smartphone device, all user files can be accessed and easily transported to view on various computers in the office through virtual desk infrastructure (VDI). VDI allows for a computer-less office where users work by simply plugging in their smartphone. Additionally, users will be able to pre-book desks in the office and control the temperature and lighting at their desk.

Benefits of adopting a Smart Office concept include the following:

  • Increased productivity and efficiency achieved through streamlining and automating processes to complete simple tasks. Employees are able to focus on larger tasks that will help innovate and grow the company
  • Reduced costs as a result of sensors capturing data to efficiently light and heat the office space
  • Increased security through the use of biometrics to access the building. Security cameras relay real-time footage to smartphones and smart locks automatically when an employee leaves the building
  • Improved employee communication and collaboration through the use of collaborative conference rooms bringing face to face communication and screen sharing capabilities with colleagues in different countries.
  • High employee retention and attraction by offering a comfortable work environment that fosters positivity and connectedness

By having an ecosystem of connected devices, organizations will be able to collect insightful analytics and use business intelligence capabilities that analyzes and presents key information that can measure employee performance through KPIs, recommend areas of improvement and assist management in making informed business decisions.

The Smart Office Market Growth

North America currently holds the dominant share of the global Smart Office region as companies are rapidly adopting advanced technology and improving the technological advances in their offices. The Asia Pacific region is projected to be the fastest-growing due to the increasing demand for smart services in industrial sectors in order to optimize business processes in emerging Asian economies [49].

In 2017, the global Smart Office market was valued at USD 21.2 billion and by 2024 is estimated to be valued at approximately USD 49.7 billion, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.98% [50]. These numbers are consistent with the growing number of connected IoT devices per year with an estimated 62.12 billion connected devices by 2024 [51]. Considering the huge value that Millennials place on technology, a Smart Office feature will likely be part of every organization in one capacity or another.

Need for Smart Office: Changing Workplace Values and Attitudes

The growth of Smart Offices is largely attributed to the changing workforce demographics. The current workforce in offices today can be described as a “multi-generational office” that is comprised of three generations: Baby boomers, Generation X, and Millenials. As baby boomers are going to retire, and Gen Xs are employed, Millenials will fill the vacancies and are projected to make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020 [52]. As the workforce changes, offices will be changing concurrently due to a paradigm shift in generational values and attitudes in the workplace. To successfully attract new employees, companies will need to revamp worksites to align with the preferences and needs of Millenials.

On one hand, baby boomers have ranked privacy as the most important feature in their workplace, quality of meeting spaces as second important, and an engaging workplace as the least important. Whereas Millennials have ranked an engaging workplace and support for casual interaction as the two most important features in their workplace, and security near the bottom of the list [53]. Additionally, while baby boomers are dedicated employees and work a typical eight-hour shift, Millennials and GenX value a balanced lifestyle of work and personal life.

In comparison to the use of technology in the workplace, baby boomers are more traditional and prefer face to face communication whereas the majority of communication between Millennials is through instant messaging. 91% of Millennials believe that technology can improve performance, and 77% want to have greater mobile connectivity from their employer [54].

The drastic change in attitudes in the workplace between baby boomers and Millennials call for serious considerations for companies to transform their space into a Smart Office. As Millennials take over the workforce, companies will need to look at transforming their offices and incorporate more technology to be connected through IoT as Millennials want to work for digitally connected companies. It will only be a matter of when every company will fully transform into a Smart Office in the near future.

Cisco Connected Workplace

“We have less need for enclosed offices and cubicles today. It’s better to provide a variety of space types to support different work styles.”

—Alan McGinty, Senior Director, Cisco Global Workspace Innovation Group [55]

American company Cisco Systems is a global leading company that is transforming their corporate offices and workplace culture. Leaving behind the company’s previous emphasis on individual work, Cisco is now emphasizing on “we”: collaboration and community. The company has successfully implemented a connected office in 429 buildings worldwide focusing on three key components to deliver a transformative workplace experience: workplace design, technology, and policy [56].

Cisco connected workplace

To match the company’s new emphasis on collaboration, Cisco executives realized that their current office space of enclosed offices and cubicles was too isolating and that a change was needed to match their new work style. After studying work habits of employees, David Wagner, Cisco Vice-President of Workplace Resources stated that the company’s strategy in the transformative redesign was to “design collaborative spaces that support the way people work today- and also accommodate the way they want to work in the future” [57]. Cisco transformed their offices in 2012 to create an environment that offers different types of spaces to support variants of employee needs. The previous workspace was transformed into a variety of spaces for concentrating, collaborating, learning, and socializing.

Over a five year period (2012-2017), Cisco found a 17% increase in employee engagement and satisfaction, 61.5k tCO₂e annual carbon emissions reduction, 11% decrease in workplace safety incidents and $196M annual savings from portfolio optimization [58]. In a survey with new hires, 71% said that the workplace had a positive impact in choosing to work for Cisco [59].

Security and Privacy

Security questions have been a major concern ever since the Internet of Things (IoT) was invented. And what exactly are the biggest vulnerabilities to avoid for IoT systems and how to properly take actions to implement them is explained below.

Major Privacy Concerns

Data Protection

The Internet of Things can produce massive amounts of data. This data, much of which can be sensitive, will be transmitted, processed and then potentially stored. This brings the questions of data security.

a. Date storage: IoT is generating a huge amount of data that must be processed and stored. Canada (PIPEDA) and BC (FIPPA) has some regulatory limits around the privacy of personal data to related penalties. This concern involves the range of server, network and physical measure to ensure that the data is safely kept.

b. Raw data: Many developers default to saving data in raw form. Whether a company sells the data as a product or merely retains data could be subpoenaed. Hence, setting clear policies on how to anonymize user data and data retention can help limit potential problems [60].

c. Data breach: IoT faces a threat of millions of data breach with more devices joining the network and sharing data. Unless a breach of a particular company, which is a single entity that controls most of the data, the IoT will see various major players. [61].

Insecure Devices

The insecure devices contain two parts, including insecure network services and insecure ecosystem interfaces. The insecure network services running on the device itself would compromise the confidentiality, integrity or availability of information or unauthorized remote control [62]. While that contains the network itself, the concern about the insecure ecosystem interfaces include where other interfaces in the ecosystem outside of the device. The common problems are lacking authentication and encryption and lack of input, output filtering. Insecure IoT devices with connection to open internet can be a disaster as criminals can hack insecure devices and then use them as beachheads to access the rest devices that are connected and any private information that is contained.


With devices all around us and constantly collecting data, it grants the ability to measure and monitor the ability to measure and monitor individuals and group behavior. It is not only the organization with the data that we need to worry about but also the potential third party companies with access to our information.


Without a verified updated cycle, most IoT devices are at the stake of being hacked. Although it is not common to see a 7-year old device, keeping all the devices updated may not be a habit that everyone has.


User & Manufacturer Solutions

In terms of user solutions, individuals can take steps to protect their data by creating strong passwords that differ for each connected device. In addition, take action to install security patches when available. However, many IoT systems are not compatible due to the underlying operating systems and firmware being difficult to update and not designed to run any third-party endpoint security solutions [63]. Ultimately, it is difficult to ensure end-user security but consumers can take preventative measures by purchasing devices from trusted sources and being hyper-aware of the data that is being collected and the implications of it being released.

In terms of manufacturer solutions, organizations can take steps to install basic security & privacy solutions and implement device-agnostic solutions. Additionally, organizations should practice responsible product lifecycle management in which devices with individual and organizational data are properly disposed of at the end of their lifetime [64].


Blockchain is designed as a foundation for applications that involve transaction and interactions, which are also the main activities that IoT involved with. The three key benefits of using blockchain for IoT are building trust between parties devices, reducing costs by removing overhead associated with intermediaries and reducing settlement time from days [65]

Public Key Infrastructures

Public Key Infrastructures (PKI) refers to the entire ecosystem devoted to digital certificates and encryption.It is to provide digital certificates for the devices and the software and firmware they run. It enables trust that the data collected is not altered with information being encrypted and decoded by one person/ object only and operates as a digital certificate. PKI certificates are now becoming an industry standard for cybersecurity, but it will not solve all the problems in the chain.

A Day in Life with IoT

Ultimately, the Internet of Things will change the way individuals function in nearly all elements of day-to-day life. The following section outlines a ‘day-in-the-life’ with IoT by mixing components that already exist and those that are sure to follow shortly.

Good Morning

IoT In the home means being woken up by an alarm that knows your schedule and what time you need to be awake to avoid being late. If the scheduled start time is early, you’re in luck. Your coffee maker is connected to your alarm and is instructed to craft your favourite morning brew so it’s ready when you get to the kitchen. Your fridge is then able to scan the embedded code on the food you’ve chosen for breakfast, so when you remove it from the refrigerator it will alert you if the item is passed the expiration date. You will then have to use your unique human discretion to determine if the eggs are worth the risk.

On your way to work, your autonomous vehicle will take the route with the least traffic and best air quality. It will know this information from the sensors placed around the city that monitor traffic congestion, emissions, temperature and so on. The car will read you your schedule for the day including important meetings and deliverables. If you’re gearing up for a busy and important day, your vehicle might know this by the sheer amount of items due and calendar invites, therefore queuing up your favourite hype song, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to prepare you. Once you enter the company parking lot, sensors will have recognized your license plate or smartphone and direct the car into an empty parking spot.

Good Afternoon

When you arrive to work, there is no ‘punch in’ keypad for access. Access will be based on a biometric system that uses facial recognition that matches the footage of you entering the building with your electronic employee file. When you arrive in the office, you check the digital display board which will show available seats and recommends where to sit based on preference or the type of project that you are working on.

Arriving at the desk, you personalize the lighting and temperature and throughout the day, settings will automatically configure based on external lighting, heating, and previously stored preferences. Through the use of VDI, by plugging your smartphone into the computer, you have access to the company’s cloud and all of your files. When it is time to attend a meeting, you simply unplug your phone and plug it into the conference room. The wireless display allows for you and co-workers to share their screen even if they are not in the conference room which allows for improved communication and encourages collaboration. Through the company’s Smart Office mobile app, you will constantly be updated on ‘what’s new’ around the office and can check the status of a project without having to physically call or meet with your co-worker. At the end of the day, there is no need to log out; just unplug your smartphone and all the files will save automatically onto the cloud!

Good Evening

After a productive day at work, your autonomous car is able to take you home using the least congested route. Upon arrival, the garage door is able to identify the vehicle and open automatically. As you walk up to your home, the door uses facial recognition to confirm your residency and unlocks without the use of a key and will lock automatically upon closing the door. For dinner, you ask your personal assistant, Alexa, to queue up a new receipt tonight and turn on your post-work cooking playlist. When it is time for bed, you use your smartphone to adjust the lighting and shades in your bedroom. You can rest easy knowing that your devices know what time you need to be up in the morning, and there is no risk of forgetting to set an alarm.


The widespread capabilities of IoT are revolutionizing how individuals live their lives and how businesses operate. In addition to our personal and professional worlds, IoT has provided us with the technology to monitor environmental issues with a click of a button. Despite the benefits associated with IoT, there are many privacy concerns as vast amounts of personal and organizational data are collected. With this being said, it is every individual's decision as to whether the improvement in the standard of life outweighs the vulnerabilities of the technology. What do you decide?


Janet Shum Penny Sidhu Megan Hoy Cameron Lust Susan Zhai
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada


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