You Just Call Out My Name: Continuing with the internet of everything



You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there

You’ve Got A Friend, Carole King, 1971 (sung here by Carole in 2009, when she was 67)

[Note: This is a follow-up to my post yesterday on the same subject]

I wonder how many times you’ve seen this movie. The one where there’s something being guarded by a patrol. The one where the patrol moves around on some sort of fixed route, taking a predictable time to complete the route. The one where all the action takes place just after the patrol goes out of sight and away on its rounds again. And the good guys/bad guys have to get their escape/robbery/whatever done before the patrol is back.

Remember the movie? Or should I say remember the movies? That tiny plot line must have been used a hundred times; sometimes the people breaking in are the good guys, sometimes they’re the bad guys. But they always do what they have to do when the patrol disappears on its rounds.


In some ways I feel I’ve observed that tiny plot line every day of my life, in many contexts.

People make the rounds. Sentries. Maintenance men. Doctors and nurses. Policemen. Supervisors on shop floors and factories. Cabin Crew. School monitors. Security guards.

People make the rounds.

In effect they go to where the problem is.

Before they know there is a problem.

They go to check whether everything is okay.

In so many disciplines, people go to the source of the “alarm”, the points where alarms could happen, just to check whether all is well or not.

Today, with the internet of everything, that changes.

The alarm comes to you.

You still have to go to where the alarm is. But only when there is an alarm.

Simple forms of this have existed for a long time. Call buttons. On airplanes. Beside hospital beds. In secured premises directly connected to the police or to a security service.

But now we can take this further, to cover all kinds of conditions. Loo paper run out? Send an alert. Bulb not functioning? Send an alert. Long queues at checkout? Send an alert. Unexpected heat-radiating body in secure premises that should be empty at the time? Send an alert? Unexpected movement in bank balance? Temperature over/under thresholds? Humidity levels? Paper in printer? Toner? Blood pressure? Inventory level?
Send an alert.

Soon we will be able to “sense” all this. For everything we can sense, we can set thresholds. Upper limits. Lower limits. Exact values.

And we can set instructions for what to do if the threshold is breached. Switch a light on. Switch a sound on. Send a message. Activate a robotic device. Transfer money. Start a phone call. Switch on a camera. Play music.

As part of the instruction, we can choose where the alert is notified, and when. Send me an SMS. In the morning. After 830am. To my personal phone.

When everything is connected, when everything can publish, when everything can subscribe, we can set thresholds; determine actions to be taken as and when a threshold is breached; determine which of our many devices we want notifications to be sent to, and when.

We can do that. Individually. Collectively.

Soon, the alert will come running to us. We won’t have to go on our rounds any more.

10 thoughts on “You Just Call Out My Name: Continuing with the internet of everything”

  1. Hi JP

    While I completely agree with what you say and the possibilities I wonder if we lose the humanity. eg While the monthly visit to the dentist has a ‘problem – solution’ angle to it, there’s also the connection with another human being. If the contact is only problem solution driven it brings with it, its own set of mechanistic responses. I am all for using technology for productivity, I think it should also be used to keep up the social aspect of connections.

  2. JP,
    Having spent a number of years at a major Pub/Sub middleware vendor Financial Trading Networks have functioned in this way for many years…the issues arise when unexpected events trigger “herd like” reactions across the systems since thresholds breach and cascading reactions take place……what safety mechanisms are adopted, who determines them, and when does the Network take over….;-). The world you describe is definitely on the Horizon and the technologies accelerate towards this future at light speed.

  3. But as anyone in IT operations (or any kind of operations I guess) will tell you “#MonitoringSucks”.

    Alert fatigue, threshold tuning, sending only actionable alerts, aggregation, relations, providing context. These are all hard problems.

    That is not to say we shouldn’t try but the path from conception to execution is fraught with pitfalls.

  4. @martin agree. But I think we are making advances in most of those categories: tuning of thresholds; ability to wrap in context; sending alerts to the right people at the right time and to the right device; designing the alert to be actionable.

    We have to move away from a triage mindset on all this. See what you think of my next post on this subject…..

  5. @raj agree, but again, as in my reply to Martin, our ability to ensure that alerts are designed not to cascade or mushroom has improved over time

  6. Still think many “human” hurdles exist in this area. And taking account of unpredictable will be a challenge. It will and is happening in some fashion but widespread use will still take a while.

Let me know what you think

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