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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Internet of Things as a Critical Infrastructure in This Time of Instability

There is no getting around the simple fact that we are currently living in a time that is becoming more and more digitally and technologically advanced all the time. The more comfortable and familiar that we have become with these waves of digitalisation and technological advancement, the more reliant we become on them. This is especially true now, as the world continues to grapple with the global outbreak of Coronavirus. This global pandemic has practically forced every aspect of life as we know it to begin evolving and shifting. Under the weight of the rapid spread of Coronavirus around the globe and the enforced social distancing regulations and the economic response, life as we know it has been driven largely indoors. The result of this has proven to be a massive adjustment for most individuals (and for the most part). Now, as so much of everyday life today takes place at home, it goes without saying that the online landscape is more heavily utilised than ever.

IoT (i.e. Internet of Things) is essentially a “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”. Essentially, IoT refers to any digital device that has the ability and the means to allow for data transference between two or more parties without the need for human-to-human contact. Devices like these include (but are not limited to) smart phones, iPads, laptops, desktop computers, hard drives, and even smart light bulbs that are controlled by apps on one’s smartphone. Essentially, any device that can be controlled via an online connection automatically becomes part of the ever-expanding IoT network around the globe. Now, as Coronavirus continues to upend life as we know it, IoT is playing a more instrumental role in the way that modern life continues to unfold.

For years now, IoT has been pegged to be the “biggest, most sophisticated piece of equipment that we have ever deployed across the planet”, and it appears that we have finally reached the point where this is presenting as a fact that is truer than ever. IoT is now presenting itself as an instrumental infrastructure during these exceedingly challenging times. As millions of individuals around the globe are now working from home, their devices have essentially become their connection to their workplaces. The same can be said for students who are learning via Zoom calls. As social distancing regulations are enforced more and more often with every new day, IoT becomes more heavily relied upon for connection from afar. It is a positively life changing revolution and it is a revolution that has taken the world by storm. There is a greater and more acute sense of the empowerment that IoT introduces to the world when it is taken advantage of to the best of its capability, and the world is grasping IoT with both hands and appreciating it more than ever.

From having to suddenly work remotely (for those who are fortunate enough to still have jobs amid this international economic crisis), to simply keeping yourself entertained and job searching from home far more often than usual, the ever-expanding international IoT network has given rise to a newfound way of life. This is a way of life that has come to realisation through unfortunate circumstances, however it is also a way of life that is really bringing home the point that this online landscape is all about keeping life moving even when we are essentially forced to approach it from a slightly different and undeniably unfamiliar angle. Having such ready and reliable connection to so many internet access options is providing us and future generations with a more convenient, efficient, and reliable infrastructure that not only goes the distance, but that can go the distance with relative ease and transparency. IoT has been on the rise for quite some time, however it is just now genuinely finding its footing.

The shift towards digitalisation and technological advancement and enhancement is a shift that has been in motion, more or less, for years now. However, it was not until recently that this shift has begun to propel into overdrive. At the centre of this heightened shift in focus towards rapid digitalisation and technological influence has been the spread of the now-global pandemic known as Coronavirus. Under the weight of the spread of Coronavirus around the globe, practically every aspect of life as we know it has been forced to evolve. For so many individuals, this has been an adjustment. And now IoT plays a more crucial role in life as we know it today – especially as we continue to navigate our way through these exceedingly unstable times. Whether it is simply staying entertained, working from home suddenly, job hunting online, or staying up to date on the latest developments around the globe, the point is that IoT is a more critical infrastructure today than it has ever been.

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