The Internet of Things: Mobile Technology and Location Services in Libraries

By Hahn, Jim | Library Technology Reports, January 2017 | Go to article overview

The Internet of Things: Mobile Technology and Location Services in Libraries


Hahn, Jim, Library Technology Reports


Abstract

Drawing examples from a case study of an Internet of Things (IoT)-powered mobile application, librarian Jim Hahn demonstrates IoT uses for location-based services in libraries. The case integrates Bluetooth beacons into an undergraduate library's book stacks. With BLE (Bluetooth low energy) technology, researchers were able to implement a location-based recommender that relies on subject classifications in call numbers that to provide recommendations based on location. Recommendations of digital content like e-books and e-journals can be provided from the context of the book stacks browsing experience. This report explores key technologies for bringing IoT services to libraries, noting especially the privacy and security issues for library leaders, system designers, and users of IoT services.

Chapter 1

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Libraries

On Technology and Libraries in the Twenty-First Century

Libraries face profound service challenges in the twenty-first century. Some of the challenges relate to changes in the networked information landscape of the last several decades, including the massive and direct availability of information without mediation of a librarian, the challenges associated with curating and describing massive quantities of data, and the renewed challenges related to library as a place combined with perennial questions about the future of print. The intersection and culmination of several of these effects of networks, spaces, and data are poised to disrupt technologies within libraries as the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is comprised of billions of connected devices that usher in a new realm of possibility for library service development and innovation.

Some may be wary of the oncoming IoT development since, in no small measure, libraries are asked to do more with less in an age where technology has not always delivered on an upward rising trend of making operations more streamlined or efficient. The implementation of new technologies can, in some cases, even lead to less stable services in the near term as newer services attempt to scale to demands. Technology disruptions do not always end up with the hoped-for result of service efficiencies. There are times, however, when the technological promise is too profound to ignore. Enter the Internet of Things, the latest evolution of networked computing technology, made possible by the ever-smaller form factors of computers and sensors, the combination of which provides a distinctively different, and somewhat unusual, promise. The IoT encompasses very small computers, directly or indirectly connected and interconnected with the web and everyday objects to provide profoundly innovative levels of monitoring support, device control, service innovation, and, for many, business opportunities.

Defining the Internet of Things

Defining the Internet of Things is a challenge. This challenge is caused in part by the newness of the domain and the many varied services that technologists foresee for the IoT. IoT technologies encompass not just one type of hardware but many kinds of hardware that have existed as unconnected devices. Smart appliances, like networked thermostats or network-accessible "smart ovens" are examples that only begin to scratch the surface of the IoT service possibilities. Several technologists consider the shift to the IoT, where every appliance is networked and has an IP address, as inevitable. The IoT literature goes on to suggest that the IoT will encompass millions of devices linked with the Internet, relating information about environment, logistics, and control systems. (1) Some suggest the IoT will be connected as part of a larger cloud infrastructure that can autonomously collect and produce data about the environment in which it exists. IoT devices are not desktops or mobile devices, but rather computing machines that aren't traditional end points of use; in other words, the IoT devices do not have traditional interfaces--they are more like probes that gather data. …

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