Spreading the Benefits of IoT Among Fishermen and Farmers
INEX labs in Massachusetts is showing small and midsize businesses how sensors and the data they collect can do big things for them.NEW BEDFORD, Mass.—On the fifth floor of a former newspaper building in this old port city on Massachusetts' southern coast, Chris Rezendes and his colleagues are working hard to bring the benefits of the internet of things to smaller businesses. Rezendes (pictured) and the others at INEX Advisors' IoT Impact Labs are working with a growing group of sponsors—including, Dell, GE, Intel and Analog Devices—as well as state and federal agencies to bring together startups that are making sensors and other IoT devices and small and midsize businesses around Southeastern New England not only to improve operations at these sites but also to use them as proof points for other organizations around the world. INEX essentially works with both the supply and demand sides of the IoT equation. Rezendes and others sort through hundreds of pitches from tech startups with interesting technologies to determine which ones to embrace, helping to hone their business plans and technologies, while at the same time talking with various organizations in the region—from fisheries groups and city officials to agricultural, brewery and winery associations—to fuel interest in using sensors, wireless connectivity and other IoT technologies to capture, store and analyze data that can enable them to better run their operations. A key is getting into these sites and installing the instruments and technologies to make it all work, Rezendes said. There is a lot of talk about how technology—such as remote sensors in satellite images—can more easily get people closer to places to find out what's going on in huge swaths of land or in the vast oceans, but for the IoT to work for most businesses, they need "boots on the ground," he said. "You need to go out in the physical world."
That's where he and others were during a recent tour of three sites in New Bedford and the neighboring town of Dartmouth that are among a number of pilot programs INEX is running in which IoT technologies are being used. Rezendes and Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships at Dell, headed a tour of a winery, nursery and New Bedford Harbor to show journalists and analysts—as well as actor Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" fame who also is Dell's social good advocate—how these technologies are being used, and the benefits being drawn from them.