Internet of Things on tablet

The Internet of Things: How It Works and How It's Changing the Self-Storage Industry

The Internet of Things, or IoT, connects things to other things, allowing shared data and improved communications. Read how IoT works and how it’s changing the self-storage industry.

The Internet has been around for quite a while. Many young people were born into today’s interconnected world and can’t imagine life without it.

For decades, the Internet has been centered around people. All the data, blog posts, YouTube videos and images you view online were created and uploaded by people for other people to consume. The Internet connects people to information. The Internet of Things (IoT), on the other hand, connects things to other things. Read on to learn what IoT is, how it works and how it’s changing the self-storage industry.

What Is It?

The IoT allows things to share their data with other things. It works like this: You take something that’s not connected to the Internet, such as a washing machine; add the ability for it to sense its environment and communicate data over a network; and voila! It’s now a “smart” device, connected to IoT via cloud technology. From there, the options are nearly endless. The washing machine can sense how long it’s been since clothes were washed, where the clothes are at in the cycle, what type of items are being washed and more, and then send the information to users via an app or other smart device.

Because IoT is made up of items that sense, connect with other things and exchange data, it can connect almost everything—from your car to your thermostat, your refrigerator to your fitness tracker, your sleep-tracking app to your fish tank. For example, a smart thermostat knows whether people are in a building, your work schedule, the time of year, day of the week and more. It then communicates on a network so users can control it from their smartphone. Smart devices are actively picking up signals, listening for incoming signals and exchanging data.

Your smartphone is where many IoT exchanges happen. It also has tons of sensory ability. It can tell where you are, if you’re moving, how much light is in the room, how close it is to your face, if you’re talking to it and more. This gives it the ability to not only take data from other things, but to process and send data to other connected devices.

There are many things that were manufactured and built before IoT, but they’ve been upgraded to include sensing and communicating abilities. Take coffee-makers, for example. Now your coffee-maker can be controlled via IoT with an app or other connected device so it knows when to warm up and start making coffee. In fact, the average household now owns 13 Internet-connected devices. It’s predicted that by 2020, the average household will own close to 50.

IoT and Self-Storage

Now that you’re thinking of the Internet-connected devices you already own, imagine if your self-storage property could communicate with you on a network. What if your facility could tell you the temperature in your climate-controlled building, which lights are on, if any unit doors are unlocked, which tenants are onsite, if anyone is using your kiosk and if unwelcome visitors are detected? Pretty cool, right?

All industries have been affected by IoT and self-storage is no different. Smart industry technology exists, with tools that make it easy for operators to remotely monitor things such as unit doors, elevators, gates, lights, thermostats, keypads, security cameras and doors using just a smartphone. They can get real-time insight on the state of their property, and connect to their website, software or apps to receive notifications. Walk the aisles of any major self-storage tradeshow and you’ll find great options for modernizing your property with smart technology.

But smart devices and Internet-connected things aren’t just good for remote monitoring. Even if you don’t want to check in on your property from afar, IoT can provide extremely valuable information. After your property’s Internet-connected things gather data, it can be aggregated and compared with that of other Internet-connected things at your site to produce advanced reports that help you run your business more effectively. Modern self-storage facilities are already using IoT analytics to develop their business models, learn more about their tenants, and boost revenue with small tweaks.

With IoT technology, the possibilities are nearly endless. Self-storage operators can use interconnected devices and software to manage, track and analyze their business effortlessly, from anywhere in the world. Before you tackle your next renovation or technology improvement, consider investing in Internet-connected hardware, unit doors, HVAC and more to modernize. You’ll open up a world of opportunity to advance your business in an interconnected world.

Jana Haecherl is a marketing-content writer for storEDGE, which offers a comprehensive suite of technology solutions designed specifically for the self-storage industry. As a graduate of South Dakota State University with a master’s degree in mass communication, she enjoys bringing technology, Web marketing, and industry news and tips to self-storage owners and managers. For more information, call 913.954.4110; visit

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