Players use a variety of strategies in Monopoly. If you are familiar with the game, you know you must achieve a monopoly before you can build, and you need four houses before you can add a hotel. My preferred strategy is to establish an infrastructure before I start building houses. I try to buy railroads and utilities, as well as the less expensive properties on the board.

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In this way, Monopoly mirrors the Internet of Things. As localities try to implement IoT technologies for smart cities initiatives, they need an infrastructure that includes networking, storage and processing to handle the data that will be collected, stored, transmitted and analyzed. And starting with smaller, less expensive projects can help them establish a record of success before they move on to bigger things.

When I play Monopoly, I try to get Baltic Ave., plus Mediterranean Ave., Ontario Ave., Vermont Ave., and Connecticut Ave. If I’m feeling flush, I’ll go for the dark green properties, but I’m really a fan of the cheap pieces because it’s easier to build up houses and hotels to bankrupt my opponents. That’s the theory, at least; it does backfire sometimes.

Everyone has a preferred method when playing Monopoly. Some people save up and get Park Place and Boardwalk — others prefer to acquire the railroads and utilities. Whatever your way to play, the reality is that it can all go to pot if you land on the wrong space.

This is a challenge Monopoly and IoT have in common. For many IoT initiatives across the country, things did not go as planned in 2020.

A Shift in IoT Priorities

In recent years, smart technology has gone in a really cool direction. But in 2020, IoT took a detour. Many IoT trends— such as the increase in funding over the past few years, the private and public partnerships, the way sensors are ingested — have been moving toward the use of artificial intelligence. For example, we’re seeing autonomous vehicles in Tampa, Fla., and smart lighting in Cape Coral, Fla.

However, many IoT projects in 2020 have not proceeded as planned, and the funding that we were seeing for smart cities efforts shifted to initiatives that address health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as contact tracing and temperature monitoring. While that doesn’t appear to be a permanent move, many governments and agencies are shifting research and development dollars to health-related applications.

As the country starts to resume the activities of normal life — with everything from football games to flights with people in the middle row — IoT technologies will become increasingly important but potentially less visible. They will be a part of our daily lives in the same way that buying houses in Monopoly is simply a part of the game.

Security Keeps the Pieces Moving

The focus, then, for IoT and machine learning in 2020 is on security. This year, a huge number of private and government organizations shifted their on-premises workforces to remote work. This presented IT departments with a number of challenges. They needed to provide network connections (and sufficient bandwidth) to users, along with hardware such as laptops and web cameras. To complicate matters further, these developments presented an opportunity for hackers and other cybercriminals to compromise data like never before.

The goal of companies and governments in the coming months should be to understand the risks they face, mitigate these risks and establish plans to get ahead of them. Whether it’s information security, public safety security, physical security, endpoint security, data center security, cybersecurity or some other focus — security is going to be an essential consideration as we move into the next phase of the Internet of Things.

Data is essential to understanding how machine learning and artificial intelligence can automate security processes and protect an organization’s information and assets. CDW•G has a number of solution architects who focus on these areas and can help you understand what your plan should be as you face new issues with regard to both IoT and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like in Monopoly, different organizations have different plans to achieve their objectives. CDW•G can help you with yours. Reach out to your account manager to set up a call today with your solution architect.