[Burning Issue] Internet of Things (IoT)


What is the meaning of IoT?

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
  2. A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.
  3. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), microservices and the internet. The convergence has helped tear down the silo walls between operational technologies (OT) and information technology (IT), allowing unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for insights that will drive improvements.

Impact of IoT on the day to day life:

  1. Car-Calendar Connection: Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late.
  2. Alarm Clock-Coffee Maker Connection: What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you?
  3. IoT and Google’s Driverless Car: The car has multiple devices which track the movement of objects, captures the images surrounding it and processes the information. It has devices on board that can change the speed and direction of movement depending on the feedback it gets from the external environment. The data is then backed-up on a cloud from which it can receive instructions and behave accordingly, right from throttle accelerator to applying brakes.

Impact of IoT on Governance:

  1. On a broader scale, the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks: “smart cities” which can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this helping us understand and improve how we work and live.

Challenges thrown up by the advent of IoT

  • Data Management

Connected devices are going to produce massive amount of data. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.

  • Privacy & Security

With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network? The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing.

IoT in India

Government of India’s IoT Announcement, has come out with a draft IOT Policy document which focuses on following objectives:

  1. To create an IoT industry in India of USD 15 billion by 2020. It has been assumed that India would have a share of 5-6% of global IoT industry.
  2. To undertake capacity development (Human & Technology) for IoT specific skill-sets for domestic and international markets.
  3. To undertake Research & development for all the assisting technologies.
  4. To develop IoT products specific to Indian needs in all possible domains.

Recent Initiatives

  1. Government is coming up with a regulatory framework for Internet-of-Things (IoT) along with policies to promote the sector.
  2. Department of Telecom has come out with a machine-to-machine (M2M) roadmap, with an aim to put regulators, industry agencies that develop standards, users and manufacturers on the same page.
  3. The Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), in its draft policy, targets to create an IoT industry in India of $15 billion by 2020.
  4. Currently, work is going on in the area of numbering schemes for IoT and KYC norms for SIM-embedded M2M devices.
  5. Telecom Standards Society of India too is working on India-relevant standards with respect to the sector.

Consumer IoT adoption would be slow in India

Due to various challenges, consumer IoT adoption would be slow in India. Some of these IoT adoptions challenges (data security, lack of standardization, data ownership issues, ROI, etc.) are really not unique to India. Apart from these challenges, IoT in India, especially in the consumer space, would need to reckon with a few other hurdles. These are:

  • Internet availability / bandwidth / reliability

Even today Internet connectivity is a major challenge in India. For consumer IoT adoption – this would remain a major challenge.

  • Cost of IoT enabled systems and devices

Even products such as wearable fitness bands are yet to take off in India, and price is a key reason. Indian consumers are very selective in terms of where they would invest when it comes to technology.

  • Lack of vendor activity

Global vendors, often mistakenly, assume that Indian consumers are “not ready” for advanced products. This is very much evident in the IoT space, with hardly any kind of vendor activity today. This, in turn, has led to low awareness levels of IoT devices and systems among consumers.

  • Overall infrastructure challenges

Apart from the internet the supporting infrastructure such as smart grids, traffic systems, etc., are far from being ready for IoT.

Commercial IoT has much better prospects in India

The challenges listed for consumer IoT adoption becomes less of an issue when it comes to commercial space. It is not that these challenges (especially internet connectivity and cost of IoT) are not there in the commercial space; they can just be more easily addressable by commercial organizations. Even globally, IoT adoption and usage is much higher in the commercial space.

Some of the areas where commercial IoT adoption can grow in India are:

  • Logistics, fleet telematics
  1. Logistics as a sector is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years in India. Regulatory changes such as GST implementation would drive consolidation and growth. The booming e-commerce sector is another key driver for the logistics industry.
  2. With growth and consolidation, logistics companies would be looking to better leverage technology to drive efficiency in operations and this where IoT could play a key role.
  3. Tata Motors as begun putting sensors into its trucks, so that fleet owners can get information on how the vehicles are used, and even predict potential breakdowns.
  4. Vendor community also sees to be interested in the IoT opportunities in the logistics space.
  5. Cisco and L&T Technologies announced a tie-up in September 2014, to explore IoT opportunities in transportation and other infrastructure sectors.
  • Smart cities and utility services
  1. With the new government coming out with an IoT policy, and the stated plans of developing smart cities, there is significant scope for growth of IoT in multiple government and utility services.
  2. There are signs of some vendor activity also. Tech Mahindra has announced a tie-up with Bosch Software Innovations, to develop an ecosystem to enable innovative solutions for the connected world and connected enterprises.
  • Industrial automation / supply chain / inventory management
  1. Indian manufacturing sector has seen a significant growth in IT adoption.
  2. IoT applications for the manufacturing sector whether it is automation or supply chain management would be a key growth area in India.
  3. Other areas of possible growth include insurance sector, where some of the insurance companies in India have started experimenting with IoT, primarily in the automobile insurance space; and the healthcare sector which is growing very rapidly and modernizing fast.

Way forward

  1. IoT will continue to evolve in the coming months and one can expect significant growth in the long run.
  2. However, reliable internet connectivity and overall supporting infrastructure will be a key prerequisite for this growth. If things fall into place, IoT has the potential to provide substantial benefits.
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