Taking a Tour of How IoT Is Put to Use by Smaller Businesses

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Taking a Tour of How IoT Is Put to Use by Smaller Businesses

INEX Advisors' IoT Impact Labs are working to show the significant impact the internet of things can have on SMBs. Here are examples of how the IoT is helping SMBs become more efficient and profitable.

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Keeping It Real

Rezendes said that although there are technologies such as remote sensors in satellite images to gauge conditions from above, "you need to go out in the physical world" for the IoT to work for most businesses. Devices need to be installed at the sites. INEX has about two dozen projects in the field.

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Sponsorships Keeping the Labs Afloat

In these early years, the lab is counting on corporate sponsors—including Dell, Intel and GE—for support. Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships at Dell, said his company's focus is on the commercial side of the IoT.

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Adding Some Star Power

Among those on the tour was actor Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" fame, who also is a sustainability advocate and has been Dell's social good advocate since March 2015.

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Heading Out to Sea

One of the INEX pilot projects is New Bedford Harbor, home to the country's top fishing port based on the value of the catch. It's also an example of the ripple effect the IoT can have. The fishing port brings in $600 million to $700 million a year, but the harbor—through all the businesses the catch touches—has about a $9 billion impact on the state, Rezendes said. If the use of sensors and other instruments can improve the catch and its value, it could be a boon for the whole state.

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Seeing the Lighthouse

INEX has installed sensors and a Dell Edge Gateway 5000 outfitted with technology from partner V5 Systems at the Palmer's Island Lighthouse—near the opening of the hurricane barrier, through which the fishing fleet and other boats move between the harbor and Atlantic Ocean—that send back video feeds to the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.

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Future Plans for Harbor Sensors

Other ideas in development include putting sensors and Dell gateways in buildings where boats offload their catches; around the harbor to detect chemical, biological, nuclear and other threats; and on boats in place of the humans who monitor the catches, which can cost boat owners as much as $850 a day per person.

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Growing the Grapes

At the 130-acre Salt Creek Vineyard in South Dartmouth, Mass., sensors from Davis Instruments and New Mountain located at the top of poles in three fields act as a weather station, measuring everything from wind speed and direction to sunlight, rainfall and humidity—information vineyard workers can use to determine their practices for growing grapes. They also operate on solar power.

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Keeping an Eye on the Winery

Salt Creek officials are turning this old building into a new winery, and sensors will be installed throughout the building and on the machines inside. Other sensors will be installed in the vineyard soil to measure everything from moisture to acidity.

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Separating the Stems From the Grapes

One of the machines that will be outfitted with sensors is the one for separating the stems from the grapes, one of the first steps in the winemaking process. The sensors will be able to alert the growers if the machine isn't functioning, reducing the amount of downtime and making the business more efficient.

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Connected Greenhouses

At Quansett Nurseries in Dartmouth, sensors are used in the greenhouses where the firm grows micro-greens, flowers, herbs, vegetables and other plants.

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Leading the Way to Better Growth

The sensors in the greenhouses—and the ones Rezendes and others expect to put into "hoop houses" in the nursery—measure temperature, humidity, sunlight and other metrics to help workers better determine how best to grow the plants.

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Tracking the Gas

Sensors also are being used on propane tanks around the nursery to give growers an accurate read on how much gas is in the tanks.

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Water in the Wells

Nursery owner Fred Dabney, worried that the regional drought was lowering the water in his two wells, had cut back on the amount of watering the nursery was doing. However, sensors installed in the wells found that there was plenty of water in both, enabling him to continue to do the watering he needed.

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A Gateway to the IoT

A key device at many of these pilot sites is the Dell IoT gateway, which can collect, store and analyze the data from the myriad sensors installed.

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