Behind the Smart Tech Trends in 2020

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us, pretty much like Wi-Fi. To keep it brief, IoT refers to all internet-connected devices that collect and share data. Think of lightbulbs or smart thermostats that can be turned on from an app. If it has a sensor in it, even better — that’s considered smart tech, too.

But instead of covering the usual smart devices that make a list like this (looking at you Nest Thermostat), we’ll be covering the larger smart trends happening behind the scenes in the electrical industry that don’t get talked about enough.

Besides, for a market that’s expected to double in growth in the next five years — some estimates have it at more than $135 billion by 2025 — there has to be more to it than just devices that let you schedule when they turn off and on.

Machine Learning

There are smart devices, and then there are devices that can learn. Machine learning has been mentioned quite a bit in the world of smart tech, but over the past couple years, devices are finally starting to make use of the data it collects. And it’s only going to become more integrated into our daily lives.

Machine learning is basically the algorithm any device or application uses to find patterns in data. Think of recommendation systems on Netflix, or your feed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. From the links you click to the shows you watch, it’s all captured and analyzed by a machine learning algorithm to help decide what you might want to see next.

Now that’s pretty smart.

But more devices are starting to have this feature integrated in its design. For instance, instead of setting a schedule for your Nest Thermostat, the device adapts its behavior to your habits, saving you time and money by only operating when you need it to.

And, of course, vehicle manufacturers are now following Tesla’s lead and figuring out more ways to integrate driverless features in their vehicles — which is itself a perfect example of machine learning capabilities.

But, besides helping us achieve driverless cars and homes that are perfectly heated and cooled without our input, where else is machine learning making an impact?

Machine Learning & the Energy Infrastructure

Today, even the energy industry is starting to harness the benefits of machine learning.

To make our energy infrastructure more efficient, Big Data, machine learning, and IoT technology are capable of creating what is called the “Internet of Energy.” From increasing generation and transmission, the Internet of Energy (IoE) is able to maximize the flow of energy potential while cutting down on energy lost along the line. Adding in IoE technology will lead to smarter grid technology, allowing for better control over power and electrical flow, as well as monitoring the health of utility systems and automating power distribution.

GE Power is already following this model for a “digital power plant.” They’ve found that they can readily take advantage of predictive maintenance and power optimization to reduce unplanned downtime by 5% and operations and maintenance costs by as much as 25%. Over a few short years, this adds up to some serious value.

The Smart Grid & Electrical Contractors

Speaking of smart grids, the use of sensors, smart meters, and other automated technologies to optimize energy demand is not a new concept, but with advances in machine learning, it’s becoming a much more practical application that electrical contractors should add to their skillset. Whether its installing connected streetlights, vehicle charging stations, PV systems, or energy storage systems, electricians that know how to work with this technology will be ahead of the curve.

Not to mention, as more renewable energy is generated every year, more sophisticated control systems that can actually balance the load of this highly variable form of energy are going to be critical to our infrastructure’s operations. A smart grid helps make this load balancing act way more feasible, storing energy when it’s not needed and then distributing it along the grid during peak hours.

Faster Networks & Smarter Homes

5G all but promises to revolutionize the IoT and smart home technology. As 5G rolls out across the globe, smart home devices will soon be linked to a more powerful network. Not only will these smart devices now be able to access more data, but they’ll also be able to process that data much faster, making quicker decisions, all while altering its behavior practically in real time.

Better Cloud Technology Means More Data Centers

There’s no doubt that 5G is kicking off a more sophisticated reality for smart homes. However, it’s also going to create a higher demand for data centers. As more businesses turn to cloud services — 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud — more data centers are required to house cloud-based resources. For electricians looking to specialize in this area, that’s a huge selling point.

Another important feature of data centers? They require a massive amount of electrical energy. By the end of 2020, data centers in the U.S. alone will account for 73 billion kWh. That’s a lot of cables, wires, panelboards, transformers, and medium and low-voltage switchgear.

It’s also important to look at the capabilities of 5G itself to back up this higher demand for cloud-based storage. More data can now be exchanged faster than ever from devices to the cloud and back again. In fact, it’s estimated that 4,000 new data centers need to be created from 2018 through 2020 to keep up with this demand of new digital storage.

How We Can Help You

No matter what smart tech project you have on hand, from the largest data center to the smallest thermostat swap out, City Electric Supply is here with the industry knowledge to get you the electrical supplies you need. Shop more than 30,000 products on our online store, or stop by any of our 500+ branches today to see what we can do to help.

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