The Role of IoT is Changing & Covid-19 is to Thank

While the global pandemic has brought a lot of pain and suffering to the world, it has also inspired tremendous technological innovation. A thankful approach to a devastating situation ahead of American Thanksgiving weekend.

Covid-19. What hasn’t this novel, non-discriminatory, and unforgiving virus affected? It seems as though it has created a shift – and a rift – in nearly every aspect of life as we knew it. The way we work. The way we dress (think pajama bottoms during Zoom meetings, and masks of all kinds when out and about). How we interact with others. How and on what we spend our money. The list goes on.  Guess what? It’s not all death and doomsday. 

While we are, in no way, diminishing the atrocity that is the loss of human lives, at Highroad, we can’t help but notice just how much creative innovation the global pandemic has influenced.  Scientists are working day and night to develop and test a vaccine so that we can return to “normal” living. At the same time, innovators of another kind are burning the midnight oil to produce tech-savvy solutions that make life in the new normal easier, safer, and more connected for all. IoT innovations, that is.

A push for post-pandemic resilience

The IoT market was worth $150 billion in 2019. And thanks to this Covid-inspired push, this already impressive sum is expected to surge to a staggering $243 billion by 2021. Recent advances in connectivity, IoT software and hardware, and the number of globally connected IoT devices are already showing great promise, letting more people access work, services, and more, while promoting trust, transparency, and security.

Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate goal is to leverage IoT technologies to create frameworks for safe living amid Covid-19 that keep the infection rate down. This, so that we, as a human race, can come out stronger, and reach a post-pandemic era as quickly as possible. However, while striving to achieve post-pandemic resilience, a not-so-surprising change in perspective has emerged: a cultural shift towards a more flexible consumer or citizen-oriented approach. As smart cities and the businesses within them begin to leverage more and more data to safely and smoothly enhance their operational and organizational processes, ensuring that the end-user (consumer or citizen) buys into them has become critical to their success. 

Advancing real implementations of available IoT technologies

The evolving role of IoT is not necessarily linked to the development of new and previously unheard of technologies. Rather, the change stems from how industries use these technologies to encourage end-user buy-in. IoT service developers and providers have realized that practices such as remote working, hybrid healthcare, transmission chain tracking, occupancy control, and contactless payments are here to stay and that their field can improve the quality of these and more traditional living and working experiences and conditions, through the power of IoT.


By using computers, sensors, and networks to collect, analyze, and provide evidence-based data on aspects of everyday life. This, of course, is not new. It’s how IoT technologies have operated since their inception. However, in light of the ongoing pandemic, the role of these integrated technologies has significantly expanded. IoT solutions are now monitoring body temperature to rule out fevers. They’re enabling smart parking detection so that city-goers spend the least amount of time milling about in public. They’re engaging in air quality monitoring in public buildings and spaces as more people turn to private cars and avoid infection risk on public transport. And the list goes on.

IoT automation – friend or foe?

Automation has traditionally been viewed as a threat to human jobs and therefore detrimental to the prosperity and vitality of cities looking to leverage it to cut costs and corners. That being said, in light of the global recession caused by Covid-19, IoT automation is starting to be appreciated as the technology poised to help cities and their citizens recover financially while helping to protect against future Covid waves, and new, potentially devastating pandemics. Thanks to advances in automation technology, IoT service providers are enabling more municipal bodies and businesses to keep operations running and the economy flowing while allowing for safe social distancing. This, in turn, promotes more positive consumer and citizen experiences across smart cities, leading to better compliance with health and safety regulations, and a better overall quality of life during these trying times.

To quote the analysis included in a recent whitepaper titled From Internet of Things to System of Systems, a direct (and positive) result of the virus’ outbreak includes “new and unforeseen opportunities for all the stakeholders involved in the IoT value chain.” The use of existing IoT infrastructure and the development of new IoT technologies most certainly has a place in our current and future, post-pandemic world, and we, at Highroad, are thankful for the promise it brings to smart cities, businesses, and end-users across the value chain – and across the globe.

We’re thankful for startups developing real, tangible solutions that tackle smart city and urban mobility challenges. If your startup fits the bill, contact us about joining our upcoming Highroad Launchpad cohort.