Campus & Community

SmarTech conference spotlights ‘internet of things’

Imagine a day when you’re driving down Broadway, hitting nothing but green lights en route to a Starbucks drive-through. Imagine a day when your refrigerator indicates that you’re low on milk, while a grocery list auto-populates on your phone and the backyard sprinklers turn off automatically as it begins to rain.

According to Erik Mitisek, executive director of DU’s Project X-ITE, that day is not far off.

“By 2025 there will be a seismic shift in the number of connected sensors that can monitor both our natural world and our homes, offices and cars,” Mitisek said in his speech at Wednesday’s SmarTech in Business Conference hosted by DU’s Daniels College of Business. “In nine years, intelligent devices will likely increase from seven trillion to 11 trillion worldwide — becoming 11 percent of the global economy.”

Facilitated by Daniels’ Executive Education program, the SmarTech in Business Conference focused on strategic marketing and methods for turning data into actionable intelligence. Additional speakers included William King, founder and chairman of Zephyr Health, Mike Horn, vice president of threat response products at Proofpoint and professors Melissa Akaka, Michael Kirk, Stephen Haag and Michael Myers from the Daniels College of Business.

As the conference’s opening speaker, Mitisek presented to the brightest minds in Colorado business and technology on the burgeoning “internet of things” economy.

In this new landscape, he said, intelligent systems will be able to monitor everything from personal heart rates to lawn humidity through billions of devices sharing data and sourcing it to users’ fingertips. Colorado is fast becoming a hotbed for companies engaged in the development of this innovative software and hardware technology, including Revolar and Stryd. These and many other tech startups are helping turn the “internet of things” into the “internet of everything,” Mitisek said.

There currently are 18.2 billion connected devices worldwide, and by 2020 that number is projected to more than double to 50 billion. This is the next great revolution in business, Mitisek said — akin to the industrial revolution.

Next up at the conference was Scott Cardenas, a DU alumnus and chief information officer for the city of Denver. He spoke about how all-time high employment rates will factor into Denver’s ability to become a truly “smart city.”

Denver recently was named a winner of the IBM Smarter City Challenge. Selected from a competitive pool of more than 100 global cities, Denver will receive IBM consulting services geared toward improving technology solutions in industries ranging from health care and social services to public safety and transportation.

“Mobility has been an exciting area for us,” Cardenas said. In addition to the IBM Challenge, Denver is a finalist for the $50 million “Smart City” contest created by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. This grant will be awarded to the cities most prepared to re-imagine their traffic systems through the use of high-tech solutions.

With Denver’s population expected to exceed 3.3 million by 2020, the time is ripe to harness to power of technology to address quality-of-life issues across the Front Range, Cardenas said. Collaboration between public policy leaders and pioneers in the local tech ecosystem will continue to keep Denver on the leading edge of this high-tech, data-driven revolution.

“We have a great forward-thinking mayor and are in a good position,” Cardenas said. “The key is going to be analytics. We have to get smarter about sharing our data while continuing to bring public and private partners to the table.”





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