Only two apps, Facebook and YouTube, occupy more of our time than our need to know our location and proximity to others. As humans, our need to connect socially and our need to be entertained are dominant instincts. But location \u2013 and its relative cousin proximity \u2013 has been one of the most important components of information exchange since the discovery of the first fruit tree \u00a0(\u201cEve, where did you get that apple?\u201d). Latitude and longitude have been guiding travelers since the 3rd century BC. Look at phone numbers \u2013 +1-xyz-555-1234 \u2013 the first three fields are dedicated to location. The US and Soviet Union each put up large constellations of satellites so that we can know where we are in the world at all times.\u00a0 A recent survey found that 83 percent of smart phone users say that location services are critical to their app experience \u2013 not to mention the value of user location to ad networks.\nBut the Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere \u2013 it\u2019s ubiquitous.\u00a0 If we have 50 billion connected devices and trillions of sensors we will be awash in both things and streams of data.\u00a0 We talk about big data and the cloud in which it lives.\u00a0 Although the cloud is geographically undefined, even cloud location has importance at times; just ask anyone working on a digital health application in the EU.\u00a0 But even if we do not care where the data we pull from the cloud is stored, that data has less value if we don\u2019t know the location of its origin \u2013 its source in the physical world.\nConsider one of the earliest and biggest markets in the M2M\/IoT space \u2013 fleet management.\u00a0 The fleet management market, over $15B a year and growing at nearly 25% year over year, was originally based on the simple concept of managing of the location of fleet assets.\u00a0 Although additional vehicle health and driver behavior sensors now provide a wealth of data on the mobile assets, GPS (Global Positioning System) is still the center of the universe; pardon my Copernican pun, for fleet applications.\u00a0 Fleet management is the IoT poster child for location creates value for data streams.\nI was recently introduced to a fleet management platform company called Geotab.\u00a0 Geotab is interesting to me for two reasons.\u00a0 First, its hardware premise is based on an after-market device to retrofit vehicles with a cellular transmitter for the data from those vehicles \u2013 including geolocation.\u00a0 This type of device is not new. \u00a0I personally tried out such a device to test the value proposition of knowing more about my car and behavior change via the Hawthorne Effect per the Progressive \u201crate sucker\u201d commercials.\u00a0 But after-market and retrofit approaches are critical to the Industrial IoT because so many assets, Intel estimates more than 85%, are not yet connected and do not generate data.\u00a0 Second, and this is what really caught my attention with Geotab, is the application Marketplace they have facilitated from vehicle data streams.\u00a0 I am a big believer in platform business models and was excited to see this developing in an IoT space. I counted nearly 50 applications using the data streaming from the Geotab OBD (On Board Diagnostics) device and most of those apps leveraged the identity of the vehicle and its location.\u00a0\nI get excited about this because my thesis for the Internet of Things is that every \u201cthing\u201d needs to know where-it-is, who-it-is, and how-it-feels.\u00a0 I did not say that we need to know where every \u201cthing\u201d is; we need the \u201cthings\u201d to know where they are.\u00a0 They need to know who they are and where they are so that they can include this critical information in every data stream they generate.\u00a0 The value of that data stream is then immediate because it is authenticated and situationally located.\u00a0\nThink about the data that you use in your everyday life.\u00a0 When was the last time you looked at a data set that you did not associate with a location?\u00a0 Virtual machine performance \u2013 you know the exact location of the server upon which that machine lives.\u00a0 Network performance \u2013 you know the identity and location of every router and switch.\u00a0 Patient data \u2013 you associate it with both the person and the geographic location of the person for action.\u00a0 Manufacturing data \u2013 you know the location of every machine from which every data set came.\u00a0 The value of almost all information is increased by the knowledge of the location of its source.\nI tested my premise by searching out leading application of big data.\u00a0 The applications of big data are already as diverse as IoT applications, but I did find an interesting list of emerging big data applications compiled by a data scientist.\u00a0 I summarized the applications and the analysis value delivered:\n\n\n\nBig Data Application\nActionable Value\n\n\n\u00a0\n\n\nBig Data Billboards Define and justify its pricing model for advertising space \u2026 using sophisticated GPS, eye-tracking software, and analysis of traffic patterns.\nLocation\/Proximity\n\n\niPhone\u2019s ResearchKit Collect data and input from users phones to compile data for health studies.\nIdentity\/Location\n\n\nBig Data and Foraging Municipal tree inventories, foraging maps and street tree databases to provide an interactive map to tell you where the apple and cherry trees in your neighborhood might be dropping fruit.\nLocation\/Proximity\n\n\nBig Data on the Slopes Help ski resorts understand traffic patterns, which lifts and runs are most popular at which times of day, and even help track the movements of an individual skier if he were to become lost.\n\nLocation\/Identity\n\n\n\nBig Data Weather Forecasting Taps into sensors already built into Android phones to crowdsource real time weather data \u2026 fed into predictive models.\nLocation\/Proximity\n\n\nYelp Hipster Watch Map then plots the locations for the reviews in red. The darker the red, the higher the concentration of that word ... and ironic tee shirts and handlebar mustaches.\nLocation\/Proximity\n\n\nEven Big Data Bras? Using big data to help women find better fitting bras.\nLocation\/Proximity\n\n\n\nIn all seven applications the location of the source of data is at the root of the value derived by the analytics.\nBut here\u2019s the rub.\u00a0 I was talking to Matt Neegard of cloud platform company Exosite the other day.\u00a0 I asked Matt what percentage of the devices connect to their cloud presently have known locations.\u00a0 \u201cAll of them,\u201d Matt said.\u00a0 \u201cWhat percentage of those devices knows where they are?\u201d I asked. Matt thought for a minute -- \u201cAbout 5%.\u201d\u00a0 I suspect that for connected things-without-wheels this percentage probably holds across most applications.\u00a0 \u00a0But what happens to the value of the data streams from these devices when someone moves them? What happens when the business that owns the devices changes ownership?\u00a0 What if, heaven forbid, the location look up table is lost during the transition of the IT systems?\u00a0 How do you direct action from data analytics if you don\u2019t know the geographic veracity of the source?\nThe fleet management industry has been an early benefactor of the IoT because the things in its focus can move \u2013 they all have wheels \u2013 and knowing the location of those things had obvious value.\u00a0 The market and industry evolved to the point where almost all vehicles have a standard \u201cwho-am-I-how-am-I\u201d data port \u2013 OBD.\u00a0 But what about all the things-without-wheels?\u00a0 How do we trust the data streams from these devices if they cannot tell us where they are or when they get moved?\u00a0 Many are beginning to address this problem with technologies like RFID and beacons.\u00a0 But as Matt pointed out, few are changing their \u201clocation point-of-view\u201d to that of the things.\nTeenagers don\u2019t have wheels but they move around in things that do.\u00a0 When I purchased my OBD II device, a consumer product called Zubie, one of the value propositions advertised was the Family Plan; better known as \u201cknowing where your kids are with the car at all times.\u201d\u00a0 At the time all of my kids had moved out and bought their own cars so that wasn\u2019t a big appeal to me. \u00a0But I suspect it is for many parents, particularly those whose kids learn how to turn off \u201cTrack my iPhone.\u201d\u00a0 But just like knowing the location of your loved ones on a Saturday night gives you comfort, knowing the location of your data streams is critical\u00a0to your state-of-mind regarding the health of your business.\nSo the question stands \u2013 do you know where all your data streams are?