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Meet Yodit Stanton: cofounder of internet of things startup OpenSensors

Charlotte Jee | July 14, 2016
Meet OpenSensors: a startup doing remarkable things with open data and IoT.

Customers

OpenSensors now has over 10,000 users, with each of its customers managing from 2,000 to 20,000 sensors every year. They include big names like Cisco, TripAdvisor, Reuters and Arup.

Most of OpenSensors' clients tend to work within the commercial building, engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing sector. Any sectors where there are "lots of moving parts" and goods to be tracked tend to be suitable for OpenSensors, according to Stanton.

"We help companies manage their sensor network, but at the same time you can have a load of open data overlaying your private organisation's data, which gives you much better analytics," Stanton explains.

For example, an art gallery could overlay visitor footfall data, picked up by sensors, with open data on the weather and traffic on given days, allowing them to predict what future visitor numbers will be like.

However, the most valuable deployments tend to be slightly more routine and focused on efficiency gains, according to Stanton: "IoT tends to be most useful if you have physical infrastructure costing you money, energy firms for example. Deploying sensors is like having 1 million extra people working there: you have eyes on stuff and if it breaks you know about it immediately."

One benefit is that this helps to save money by avoiding pointlessly replacing systems or machinery, Stanton adds. 

Smart cities

OpenSensors has not seen much traction within the local authorities, perhaps suggesting the 'smart city' is still more of a buzzword than reality.

"I don't think many councils can afford smart city deployments," she says. "They don't have any money and what's being sold are usually multi-million pound massive five-year enterprise deals. Plus, for the most part it's very hard to navigate the procurement process."

Instead, Stanton believes the 'smart cities' ideal will come about from community-level deployments - people "doing things they care about" - rather than top-down schemes.

There have been some IoT projects within local government but they tend to focus on areas like parking, which help to raise revenue, according to Stanton.

The team

The current team at OpenSensors has been drawn from a variety of backgrounds, but many of them have worked in banking in some way or another. Stanton herself worked in Lehman Brothers' tech department before the investment bank went bust.

And she admits that for startups in competitive industries, it's not often enough just to focus on products: "We are very engineering-led. We just focused on products initially but in the last year or so we've had to do more sales. There's nothing wrong with that but we aren't very used to it. If you're crap at sales, no one just says 'never mind, you're a startup, have some money anyway'. You just fail."

 

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