Internet of things (IoT) is the second technology in focus during this year’s series of shareNL Meetups.

Nowadays not only users connect with smart things through the Internet, but things connect to each other. What if we could connect excess capacity to the Internet in order to make it visible and to make it accessible?  This is part of the introduction by our mobility expert Ananda Groag. Thanks to IoT, she says, ’mobility can be like water: always running, fluid, cheap, available everywhere and without private ownership’.  

Second speaker, Manon den Dunnen, points out that putting sensors to things make them aware of their environment, but this doesn’t really make them ‘smart’. ‘Smart’ means being able to detect the precise information relevant for us in a particular context. . For that you often need complex algoritms and AI. With IoT, she explains, functionality is not within the object but rather in the cloud. When you buy a Tesla, you own the car but Tesla owns the information in the cloud. This poses the challenge of data ownership. Another important challenge is security. Traditional theft will be less profitable since an object will know if it’s being stolen from its owner  and  will directly contact the owner or even the police. Furthermore the object becomes quite useless without its online functionality.  In exchange we can expect a rise of cybercrime and identity theft. Will people hesitate to join the sharing/collaborative economy platforms in fear of lack of security?

Laurens Slats began by quoting Cisco, ‘already in 2010, there were more devices connected to the Internet than people living on the planet’.  Laurens is the community manager of The Things Network, a project within the sharing economy: a decentralized open and crowd sourced IoT data network, owned and operated by its users. They use a wireless communication technology (similar to Bluetooth, 3G, 4G) named LORA. This is a one a half year old project, free and open to everyone and with over 1000 gateways or stations across 85 countries.

All the way from Germany, Laura Hermann- business developer from, Skyped in. Their mission is ‘smart sharing’;  connecting smart devices with Blockchain to then build a universal sharing network with those devices and without a middle man. ´ stands for tomorrow’s lightness of being, you don’t need to possess things because there will always be something around that satisfies your needs’ Laura explains.

Toogethr, presented by Tomas Partsch, is a ride sharing app that targets the corporate world. Together with the crowd, many ways to apply IoT to their business model were discussed. As an example: IoT could help the app become effortless by programming a ride with navigation to a self-driving car. Thus, sensors could tell how many seats would be available and directly inform the app. As a driver you would receive a popup message with rating and references of the person that you would share the ride with.  Toogethr closed with the following quote ‘ The challenge is not technology; we can build the technology. The challenge is getting the people to actually use it.’

Urbee, presented by  Erik de Winter, has the following vision: with 80% of all car rides being shorter than 20km, we should replace 80% of all cars with electric bikes.  How is Urbee applying IoT to their bike-sharing model? Not only are they using this technology on smart e-locks but they also use sensors to collect information from the bike and its users to improve their service. Urbee also uses LORA for the purpose of gathering data in order to protect bikes from theft, to know their location, tracking battery status, as well as checking if the locks are open or closed. In the future they see Urbee using IoT to sense temperature of devices or even sensor trembles on the bike and sharing this kind of data with municipalities for street reparations.

It’s always interesting to analyze the similarities across our diverse speakers. A very recurrent question is how we can accelerate the rate of people joining the sharing economy? But also, whether the use of IoT in platforms diminishes social interaction? Seems like we all share a common dream and mission: we focus not on the technology but on improving people´s lives. Let’s keep the dialogue open and see you in our next Meetup on Collaborative Economy and Artificial Intelligence!

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