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This is the first in a series of posts by Tom Snyder, Executive Director of RIoT, which brings together technologists, engineers, business leaders, academics, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, to capture and create Internet of Things opportunities across the region. 

Historians point to three times that technology advancements have fundamentally changed societal quality of life and the global economy for the better.  Dubbed “Industrial Revolutions,” the first three were mechanized production, electricity and information technology (are you having flashbacks to grade school history class yet?).  Each successive Industrial Revolution has come more quickly than the last and had more significant impact.

All indications are that we are in the midst of a fourth fundamental shift — one known under the umbrella term “Internet of Things.”  A number of technology tipping points in semiconductor, sensor, wireless radio, and computation technology are coming to maturity (read: becoming very low cost), enabling new markets in wearables, drones, home automation, security, and healthcare to have massive growth potential.

What is exciting is the gravity of activity in the Carolinas leading the IoT charge.  This region is not simply waiting for others to develop the Data Economy; entrepreneurs, researchers, universities, and corporations in North Carolina and South Carolina are innovating and creating solutions across a wide variety of sectors.

Charleston, in particular, is well positioned to capture a significant share of the IoT market.  Nearly all connected device technologies and analytics methods have both commercial and defense applications. Commonly, technologies are proven in one or the other sector before scaling to the other.

As an example, NASCAR has one of the most technically challenging radio frequency environments to manage on race day, with a hundred thousand fans demanding mobile coverage while race teams, emergency personnel, security and media all need high bandwidth, dedicated, and reliable wireless.  This is a perfect testbed environment to simulate military needs on a battlefield, with mission critical connectivity required that is impervious to security breaches, radio jamming and other interference.

Liaising between the commercial and defense sectors for maximum benefit to all is an important role. Charleston’s growing entrepreneurial sector, established defense contractors, and the significant government and military presence present all the ingredients necessary for success.

Raleigh-based RIoT, the largest IoT ecosystem-building organization in the US, has been working quietly with a number of Charleston-based organizations to build partnerships across the broader Carolinas region. Their newest collaboration is with Trident Technical College, a timely partnership given Trident’s plans for a $79 million aeronautical center.

On Tuesday, August 15th, they will hold their 19th “RIoT” event (the organization’s first visit to Charleston after several stops in NC and Atlanta) at Trident Technical College.  The full day workshop educates on collaboration opportunities and technology advancements in the region.

Open to the public, RIoT is building a community to seize the IoT opportunity so one day, historians will look back at the fourth Industrial Revolution and document the impact Charleston and the Carolinas had on making it real.  Follow this space in the coming months for stories of the successes coming out of the region.