"III VVV". A completely improper expression using Roman numerals, but critically important to understanding a smarter planet.
The fundamental insight of the "smarter planet" movement comes from what we call the three "I"s: Instrumentation, Interconnection and Intelligence. These are observations about technology, but also about society - about the way people behave. So you can parallel the rise of the population of "instruments" out there that can tell us about the world, with the rise of the adoption of mobile smart devices. You can parallel the growth in interconnection speeds and increasing standardization around information exchange with the rise of the social network universe. And you can parallel the rise of analytics as a critical set of disciplines with peoples' easy access to very significant computing power behind the scenes of their everyday interactions with the cloud. (Yes, making it a third "I" by calling it intelligence is a bit of a stretch - it's about being able to ingest, understand, and analyze very large amounts of information in time to make a difference. But artistic license can prevail).
For the other three letters - look at what's happening with data in our increasingly instrumented world, which gathers more and more information at and ever faster pace, from ever more diverse sources - Volume, Velocity and Variety. That's why people are thinking and talking so much about "Big Data". (I don't much care for that term - it's just data, after all. What is small today was big once. When one or more of the three V's becomes part of the problem I guess you could say it becomes a big data problem).
But the real importance of the three "I"s and three "V"s is this: together they enable a much richer landscape of potential solutions, to problems large and small, than we have ever seen before. And every day that landscape is becoming more detailed, and presenting more ways to achieve answers.
To illustrate I'll use something in the news today in the USA, which is considering what to do next about gun control. The most likely action the nation will take is to continue to improve the system for checking the backgrounds of people buying guns - extending it to more locations, including person to person sales, and so on. Whether you agree with it or not is not the point of this post - it may happen, it may not. But in "three I terms" - without getting even a little bit complicated -
(a) the instrumentation is out there - retail store systems, anything browser-capable, any smartphone - anything that supports a simple bar-code or stripe reader. Suddenly you can read what most people use for id in this country.
(b) the interconnection through the internet is out there - using appropriate information exchange and security standards from, among other things, the Criminal Justice Information System and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act - you can reach government and private sector information sources.
c) the intelligence is out there - to craft queries to databases, to verify identity, to access information relevant to background, to consolidate and return results, and understand them fast enough to make determinations.
As for the three "V"s - well, background checks like this probably don't make it to the "big data" category as they are happening. Later on, though --- but that's for another post.