To be continuously challenged is among one of our core values. Last month our Chief Operating Officer (COO), Steven Revill, took part in a panel discussion that challenged him to leave his IoT (Internet of Things) partisanship echo chamber to consider IoT's more challenging issues.

Here is what Steven had to say about the experience:

I was invited to Liverpool to attend an event hosted by Grant Thornton as part of the Edge International Festival for Business 2016. I was delighted that we were even asked to be part of the panel alongside representatives of a large multi-sectoral, multi-national organisation (ARUP) and a growing local export innovator (Evoke). As an SME growing out of Scotland and focusing on smart cities, IoT and the underpinning component of data, UrbanTide must be doing something right!

Discussing IoT with the other panel experts (Tim Griggs from ARUP, Dean Ward from Evoke and Alexandra Baleta of Grant Thornton) opened up some challenging issues. For example, we were asked whether or not IoT is ‘the answer.’  The panel members, while being advocates of IoT, were keen to point out that although IoT is a vital tool, good decision-making, leadership and a user-centred approach are necessary to realise the benefits from IoT.  

We were further challenged to answer the question: ‘Has technology gone too far?' In a world where the biggest taxi company owns no taxis and the biggest hotel company owns no hotels, it could be argued that technology has gone too far. But I think the roles technology and IoT play in delivering valuable services to providers and consumers are of massive benefit, not only in creating efficiency and reducing waste but also in enabling a market that can self-regulate and be completely transformative. Grant Thornton also highlighted the legal grey areas, risks and barriers to IoT that no-one has properly addressed yet.

The panel discussions and questions revealed that we have come some way in delivering technology solutions that actually benefit society but we still have a long way to go. To some extent we are embarking on a new world. While I firmly believe in IoT and its benefits, it is worthwhile exploring IoT from other points of view.

Sitting in the Royal Liver Building, yards away from a grey plaque commemorating the early pioneers who set off from Liverpool Docks to start a new colony in Patagonia, it felt to me like there was a parallel. We will always be looking for new ways to do things and new technologies to do things differently and IoT is no exception; we just have to be mindful we are using IoT in ways that are meaningful to people.

I would like to thank Grant Thornton and all the staff for making me feel welcome at such an excellent event, the friendly and interactive audience and the other panel members for a thought-provoking evening. Urban Tide continues to stay at the fore of IoT, but it is clear that we will always need to ensure that we take on board the viewpoints of others to keep us on our toes. 

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