Internet of Things

Internet of Things Global Standards Initiative logo

Internet of Things International Telecommunications Union initiative to develop a Global Standards framework

Unfetter your imagination. Choose an object at random and consider how its functionality might be enhanced by the manufacturer or reseller. Imagine white goods you can controlled from your phone 1. Imagine a fridge that keeps track of its contents and automatically restocks itself. What about televisions that keep track of the programmes you watch?

Too trivial? How about electronic sensors in road furniture that can sense potential danger – traffic, ice, obstructions – and communicate that information to other sensors in your car, instructing it to slow down?

The Internet of Things (or IoT as it’s sometimes known) describes the developing ubiquity of electronics in everyday objects that share data with each other and with cloud-based information systems to enable monitoring, control, optimisation and the collection of usage statistics. ‘Smart’ objects can enjoy enhanced functionality, or ‘just-in-time’ maintenance, but networks of such objects can be used in public services to create Smart Cities where provision is linked intelligently and in real-time to consumption.

A 2013 UK Government White Paper recognises the financial savings and huge economic potential in Smart City technology. ‘We estimate the global market for smart city solutions and the additional services required to deploy them to be $408 billion by 2020.’2

Research Paper critique

According to Google Scholar, the 2010 paper, ‘The Internet of Things: a survey3 has been cited over 2,300 times. The rest of this blog post will critique this influential paper.

Paper Title

The Internet of Things: A survey

Paper Authors

Luigi Atzori a, Antonio Iera b, Giacomo Morabito

Summary of Content

The paper surveys the state of the Internet of Things (as of 2010). The paper introduces and defines the Internet of Things (IoT), describing the likely extremely disruptive influence on private and business users, together with potential benefits and dangers for both types of user.

Different scientific communities are approaching IoT from different perspectives: Things (starting from objects such as RFID tags; Connectivity (concentrating on the network infrastructures to enable communications); Semantic Technologies, specifically ways in which information will be represented, stored, interconnected, searched and organised.

Various enabling technologies are described, specifically the ‘Identifying, Sensing and Communications’ technologies, such as RFID and sensor networks, and the Middleware layer that will enable enterprise level leverage of IoT.

Potential applications are then described, both currently applicable (environmental monitoring and remote control) and futuristic (robot taxis). Across both the paper identifies discrete domains: Transportation & Logistics; Healthcare; Smart Environments (home/office/plant); Personal & Social.

Finally the paper examines the areas where research is still required, detailing areas such as a the need for an integrated standards framework for IoT; authentication, privacy and digital forgetting; transport protocol, traffic characteristics and QoS.

The paper concludes that the feasibility of IoT is challenged by the current inability of available technology to satisfy the future scalability and efficiency requirements. This will provide a ‘powerful driving factor for networking and communication research in both industrial and academic laboratories’, but the variety of approaches, due, in part, to the diversity of relevant communities and areas of practice, will need integration.

Quality of Research

The paper examines an area that is likely to extend and transform our current Internet in ways that we cannot imagine, touching all areas of personal, social and economic life. This research discusses shortcomings of current research activity and suggests areas in which research – academic and industrial – can help realise the potential of IoT.

Conclusions are clear and are well-supported by the evidence; assumptions and biases in operation are clearly linked to distinct areas of activity but those areas in which integration is starting to occur are also evidenced.

Quality of Presentation

The paper is organised into sections and, where appropriate, more specific sub-sections; tables and figures are used well, particularly the Venn diagram that displays the 3 main approaches to IoT and the confluences between them.


  1. Samsung, UK, F900 WiFi Washing Machine: 
  2.  The Smart City Market: Opportunities for the UK, Department for Business Innovation & Skills Research Paper No. 136, October, 2013; (
  3.  Luigi Atzori, Antonio Iera, Giacomo Morabito, The Internet of Things: A survey, Computer Networks, Volume 54, Issue 15, 28 October 2010, Pages 2787-2805, ISSN 1389-1286,

2 responses to “Internet of Things

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