By RUBA NACKEERAN
The Internet of Things (IoT). It has a monumental ring to it, doesn’t it? And like its name, the capabilities this term holds are just as big, if not bigger.
The concept of IoT goes something like this; data is captured by a bunch of sensors in one machine and is then communicated to another machine. This then results in us humans making smarter choices that either save our time, money or life. In other words, it is intelligence for us to act upon.
The future is here
Imagine you live in a city that’s constantly experiencing traffic problems (think Kuala Lumpur!). IoT has the potential of eradicating this problem by cordoning parameters with sensors that could capture information such as the level of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, noise and other pertinent elements in the air. This data can then be used by relevant authorities to come up with solutions to better manage the traffic within the city.
In case you’re wondering, this scenario isn’t something that’s ‘likely’ to happen in the near future because it’s already here. This technology has been in place for the last four years in Salamanca, Spain to monitor the high air pollution rate within the city.
And while some 15,000km away, Pegasus Global has invested US$1bil in the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (also known as CITE), a city with no inhabitants, solely to test out all things related to IoT, one can’t help but wonder how is Malaysia dealing with the changing of tides?
Are we preparing ourselves well for it or are we already a part of it?
Are we ready for IoT?
According to Frost & Sullivan’s analysis, the ICT (information and communications technology) sector in Malaysia is close to maturing and this has slowed down the revenue growth of core sectors.
However, the emergence of IoT is giving birth to new forms of businesses. The finding reveals that the deployment of IoT will gain traction in industries such as transportation, logistics and connected consumer sectors such as wearables, connected homes and home automation.
Communication service providers are advised to leverage on their core competencies such as managed services, security, cloud computing and storage to get a bite of the horizontal revenue streams coming from IoT.
Based on the expected compound annual growth rate of about 35% between 2014–2020 for the Asia-Pacific IoT market, it’s understandable why this move is much encouraged.
Though the changes may be unheard of by many, IoT has already coalesced itself into several sectors of our nation.
In July 2015, Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation together with its applied research agency, MIMOS started work on creating a roadmap for smart cities.
Although the project is focused on turning Cyberjaya into the model city, it will be executed nationwide upon the success of its present phase. The city will feature IoT solutions such as energy management, smart traffic management system and public safety monitoring.
IoT solutions for organisations
On the corporate front, more companies are looking at transforming premises into smart buildings with IoT solutions.
Using sensors and data analytics, these solutions would overlook issues such as preventive maintenance and management of hardware, building safety, and efficient energy and waste management.
Together, these solutions would be able to detect issues before it arises and automate usage in the most optimal way.
The risk of IoT solutions
Like any technology, IoT has its own set of drawbacks. Issues such as security and privacy are a constant worry for businesses that plan on deploying IoT solutions. Unregulated machine-to-machine (M2M) communication could potentially result in data falling into the wrong hands.
For instance, an unencrypted mobile phone with sensitive information could unintentionally transfer the said valuable data to a third party – and this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Consumers are still viewing this technology as a luxury rather than a must-have. They’re unable to see how their lifestyle can be made a lot easier with technologies such as smart homes and smart cars.
Even if at present the technology is not close to its potential in Malaysia, the possibilities it holds for us, especially from a socio-economic perspective, is definitely bright and hopeful.