Instrumenting the Physical World Around Us

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Adrian GrenierThe following is a guest post by actor, filmmaker, entrepreneur and sustainability champion Adrian Grenier. As Dell’s Social Good Advocate, Grenier collaborates with us to promote healthier, more sustainable choices and actions through digital storytelling and advocacy. Dell also supports Adrian’s ocean conservation work through technology. You can follow Dell and Adrian’s work together using hashtag #legacyofgood.

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We live in a world more connected than ever.  Thanks to social and mobile, I can know where my family and friends are, what they are doing on a given day down to the minute. Yet despite this ever increasing level of connectivity, we know very little about the parts of our world that matter most. 

Fresh water is a great example. 99.98 percent of private water well owners and operators have no idea how much ground water they have. Let me pause to let you think about that. They have NO IDEA how much they have of the resource that sustains their business AND OUR WORLD. 

Fortunately, technology is changing this.

Fred Dabney (center) showing a group of industry analysts, media and community leaders how the “internet of things” is being implemented at his nursery, Quansett Nurseries.

Recently, I traveled with Dell and its customer INEX Impact Labs to visit a series of small businesses along the coast of New England.  Dell and INEX Labs are implementing sensors and collecting data to help businesses better understand their operations and physical environment.

One of our visits was to Quansett Nurseries, a sustainable greenhouse and hoophouse operation run by Fred Dabney.  Fred is one of about 30 INEX Labs partners utilizing “Internet of Things” technologies, and is using Dell Edge Gateways to monitor ground water and the micro-climates of his greenhouses to maximize production. After a short period of time, he is already seeing the benefits, “I have a huge sense of relief that I actually have a lot more water than I thought I did.”

Ed Anthes Washburn (left), Executive Director of the Port of New Bedford, talking with Adrian Grenier (right), Dell Social Good Advocate, about how he’s using the “Internet of Things” within his business.

The Port of New Bedford, the largest fishing port in the U.S. famous for their scallop shipments, is also implementing these new technologies.  Recently they have had challenges with illegal fishing practices that cheat federal fishing quotas in place to protect our ocean ecosystem.  The Port installed sensors and video surveillance technologies to aid their operations to ensure all fishing vessels play by the rules. They are also using the technology to better understand the health of the underwater environment.

I had a chance to sit down with Chris Rezendes, founder of INEX Labs, for a Facebook Livestream discussion about all his work instrumenting the physical world.  For Chris, this work is about much more than understanding our world today. It’s about creating a more sustainable future. 

“Forget what we’re going to do,” says Chris. “What do we want to be like in 2025, 2050, a century from now?  Because what we do today with water, energy and transportation infrastructure will determine what our kids and grandkids do or do not have.”

I challenge all of you to imagine the world you want to live in.  Now help participate in building it.

You can hear more about how the Internet of Things is being deployed in the real world via the Facebook Livestream or hashtag #IoTImpact.

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