The Internet of Things, Part II: Challenges & Solutions

In the first part of this blog series, we talked about the benefits and possibilities that the Internet of Things may bring to the table. But along with its endless capabilities there are, of course, several challenges to face with the Internet of Things.

Data, bandwidth, connectivity, security

systems_engineering_UTCSome estimate that the IoT will generate a staggering 400 zettabytes. That’s 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes: a number that will continue to grow over time. Fortunately, even this enormous amount of data can zoom around at near-lightspeed, thanks to the size and span of the Internet.

Bandwidth is a problem that is not solved quite as easily; you need a lot of it to move that much data, and there is only so much spectrum available. (Cognitive radio will certainly come in handy here!) And when it comes to connectivity, we have all experienced the “dead zone.” A smart phone is pretty much a paperweight without a good signal. How can connected products ensure performance outside the range of Wi-Fi and cell towers?

Last but not least is the issue of privacy and security. I have an app right now on my smartphone that lets me lock, unlock, and even start my car from miles away. But if I can do these actions, who else can? Developers of the IoT must consider security, privacy, and authentication as prime requirements, or they could have serious problems on their hands and on the hands of their customers. Will our entire informational infrastructure need to change to support this leap in innovation?

How will Systems Engineering help?

As you can see, the Internet of Things is a complex system with lots of choices, challenges, and trade-offs. In fact, it’s a humongous system of systems in an even bigger operational environment. The world is going to need experts who can understand and work within a system of this magnitude to develop big ideas while mitigating risks.

Fortunately, there is a discipline that was designed to handle this exact task: Systems Engineering. Systems Engineers are educated to analyze and deal with complexity and alternatives. They can create methods and techniques that manage, control, and execute the realization of systems and solutions for the world’s needs.  As a Systems Engineer, you could turn your IoT ideas and needs into real systems that work, and help create solutions for the challenges that lay ahead in this exciting new development.

ST-125x125How can I become a Systems Engineer?

The Internet of Things is here to stay. With the unlimited possibilities for growth and expansion, getting in on the ground floor of the IoT is a smart move to make.

At WPI, our Systems Engineering students feel supported, encouraged, and stimulated by a cutting-edge curriculum that pushes them to develop innovative, complex, and secure systems. If you want to make the change to Systems Engineering and prepare yourself for a career in the IoT, WPI is the place to start.


 Learn more about our graduate certificatePhD, and Master’s degree programs in Systems Engineering.

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  1. IoT opens up a lot of interesting development opportunities in the form of platforms & applications, and new development areas.
    IoT has not just piqued the interest of IT organizations, but also of the development community. Arduino boards, Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison and other low-cost starter kits are giving developers a quick head-start into the world of IoT. Getting ones hands dirty with IoT pet projects is fairly easy. The traditional ‘software’ developers are happy to see more tangible results, as compared to just altering the invisible 1s and 0s on the screen.
    Development platforms for IoT are also mushrooming, making it easy for developers to get started.

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