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Road to the Smart City

Smart city initiatives are shaping urban infrastructure. Governments and IoT service providers are increasingly looking to harness IoT technologies to overcome urban challenges and enhance city services. As the IoT advances, cities will be able to use cellular connectivity to fuel economic growth, deliver improved safety and efficiency of public services, and minimise issues such as pollution and overcrowding. 

The formulation of any smart city initiative relies upon the cooperation between a range of organisations. Indeed, one of the most notable recent trends in the IoT is the growing number of partnerships and alliances – a phenomenon which was evident at this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress 2016. Innovations in vertical markets such as the automotive, home and agriculture sectors were revealed to be underpinned by partnerships, and so too were technologies like the new generation of low power wide area (LPWA) technologies.

The rapid development of vertical-specific markets and investment in new IoT technology is preparing the groundwork for smart cities. The use of new LPWA solutions in licenced spectrum will enable a new generation of smart meters, waste management solutions and wearable devices, whilst remote ‘over the air’ provisioning, which has already been backed by major players in the automotive sector, can be used to bring connectivity to public transport.

All of this is helping to reduce market fragmentation and enabling the possibility for data to be used to make cities ‘truly smart’. As has been pointed out in TM Forum’s recent report, Smart cities: Enabling the economy of data, ‘by breaking data out of departmental silos, they (applications) can make better decisions based on data from multiple sources, such as real-time environmental data and traffic management patterns. Eventually data could be shared across cities to support wider innovations and a smart region, smart nation approach.’

This report acknowledges that one of the key challenges is ‘creating a secure, transparent environment where public data can be exposed and businesses can also contribute their data and be paid for it’.  A common approach to IoT security is crucial. In a recent article for Smart Cities World, Robin Kent, Director of European Operations at Adax, highlighted the particular importance of IoT network security to the development of smart cities, noting the stratospheric growth of IoT as a challenge to the industry.

Kent identifies recent research indicating that security concerns are the biggest barrier to IoT implementation, with only 10% of operators feeling ‘fully capable of launching secure IoT services’. Yet he also draws attention to how operators can play a key role in providing secure IoT networks – highlighting the GSMA’s IoT Security Guidelines as a benchmark which can be used to securely scale IoT solutions.

Mobile operators are, of course, uniquely placed to support development and implementation of smart city strategies. As trusted, reliable leaders of data management – with a wealth of experience across a wide range of deployment models – operators can establish partnerships across the ecosystem to ensure a unified approach to IoT network security.

The speed at which partnerships are enabling technological innovation and scalability has quickly led to the widespread realisation that it is too costly to go it alone. The industry must do it its best to nurture this culture of cooperation, for the evolution of cities depends on it.

For further information and to download the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines, please click here. For further information regarding the role of operators in smart city strategy, please click here.

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Utilities specialists to convene to discuss transformative impact of IoT

Like many sectors, utilities is being fundamentally transformed by the Internet of Things. The evolution of utilities sector is already underway and according to IBM Applied Insights, the energy and utilities industry is the second largest vertical in terms of spending for IoT related products, solutions and services.

Nonetheless, the enormous potential of the IoT is not yet being fully realised by those in the utilities sector. The industry needs to work together to ensure that connected solutions operate securely, safely and cost effectively.

This is the purpose of the GSMA’s Utilities Special Interest Group meeting in Orlando 10 February. This interactive meeting is a unique opportunity for key players from utilities and smart grid companies, mobile operators, developers and vendors to discuss how cellular M2M and IoT can create new opportunities in the utilities sector. Those attending will benefit from finding out new case studies, best practices, the latest low power wide area technologies and the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines; which will help enable connected solutions to securely scale.

Among one of the key contributors to the quickly evolving utilities sector, are mobile network operators, who are able to provide wide area connectivity for a range of new connected solutions in this sector. Operators, with their extensive knowledge of many markets across the globe, are already active in this space, having partnered with many of utilities companies seeking to deliver cutting edge services.

As IoT continues its rapid advance, consumers and businesses will begin to demand more sophisticated and energy-efficient solutions. For those seeking to discover how to capitalise on the IoT opportunity in the utilities sector, this event is a must.

Speakers include experts from AT&T, Duke Energy, Sierra Wireless and the GSMA. The event is conveniently located near Distributech, in the Double Tree, Sea World Hotel in Orlando. Register now.

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DHL-Cisco report reveals key role for mobile in logistics plan

DHL and Cisco have jointly released a new trend report which has predicted that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be worth over $8 Trillion by 2025, $1.9 Trillion of which will derive from the logistics sector.

The logistics sector is widely regarded as one of the fastest growing verticals in the M2M market, and thus operators will be encouraged that another two key players have inferred that mobile will play a key role in their plans to use IoT to improve business.

The report contains several detailed use cases that take into account a range of technologies, including mobile. Mobile will play a key role in transferring data within the overall supply chain, such as warehousing operations, freight transportation and ‘last mile delivery’.

For example, mobile will allow freight to be meticulously tracked, greatly increasing the security of cargo. M2M connectivity will also ensure more efficient delivery through real time detection of vehicular faults, and enable the identification of the best travel routes, by avoiding congestion and adverse weather. The Trend Report also contains a number of examples how meaningful decisions can be made from processing Big data (Big Data analytics), which, in turn, will increase productivity, health and safety, and running costs for the logistics sector.

In the publication, DHL and Cisco also identify a number of other key areas of growth in the IoT, including smart parking, energy monitoring, smart grids and usage-based insurance, all of which are known to have mobile solutions.

The report follows the collaboration between DHL, the largest global logistics company and Cisco, the global network equipment provider, devised to improve warehouse efficiency through real time analytics. This is a reminder that the growth of the IoT is being accelerated by collaboration and another example of heavyweight multinationals using mobile to unlock new IoT revenue streams.

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PrecyseTech’s M2M solution to be used for mining operation

PrecyseTech, developer of wireless Remote Entity Awareness and Control (REAC) systems for managing high-value physical assets and personnel, has announced the expansion of a Machine-to-Machine (M2M) project for one of the world’s largest mining companies at a state-of-the-art open pit iron ore mine in Australia. Partnering with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), PrecyseTech will expand the solution’s capabilities within the mine’s 40 square mile area and doubles the mine’s identification, location, remote monitoring and wireless control of mobile lighting towers, mobile communications trailers, generators and high-value physical assets including cranes, welding units, and critical instruments.

 

According to PrecyseTech global professional services, Vice President, Babak Aghevli: “the project broadens our ability to automatically track and manage mobile high-value assets in the mine, reducing operating and maintenance costs while enhancing capabilities to support the mining operations. By combining control panel machine interfaces, on-board sensing capabilities, and long range and robust wireless communications to track and monitor equipment in the large-scale mine, the PrecyseTech solution streamlines processes to meet the changing demands of the mine”

 

PrecyseTech’s solution extends IoT to devices not previously connected and allows companies to strengthen operational efficiencies and also gives them the ability to locate, monitor and manage assets in ways previously unavailable. The remote management capabilities, will also reduce operating and maintenance costs while enhancing capabilities to support the mining operations.  The PrecyseTech-CSC partnership is one of many recent collaborations in the industrial sector underpinned by an M2M solution in order to deliver the running of cost and time effective operations.

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IBM’s $3bn IoT Investment

The technology multinational, IBM, has announced that it will invest $3bn over the next four years in an Internet of things (IoT) research unit, and that it is building a cloud-based open platform which companies can use to obtain and share data.

This move follows other IBM ventures in the IoT such as ‘Smarter Planet’ and ‘Smarter Cities’ initiatives that have focused on practical applications of the IoT, i.e. using big data to create new services and business opportunities.

The research unit will broadly serve three functions: analytics services for clients, a platform for developers to create IoT apps and a service aimed at integrating data services and solutions in order to expand its IoT ecosystem partners.

According to IBM, as much as 60 per cent of data loses its value almost immediately after it is created. There is a clear business opportunity in processing and providing access to real time data, since it can fundamentally enhance decision making. For example, automobiles equipped with machine-to-machine (M2M) technology enable drivers to become immediately aware of engine faults, heavy traffic or adverse weather conditions.

Indeed, one arm of the IoT research unit, the IBM IoT Ecosystem, will use The Weather Company (providing on average, 10 billion forecasts per day), to aid the secure and seamless integration of data services and solutions on IBM’s open platform.

IBM’s investment reflects their faith in the IoT’s economic potential but will also provide a platform for a vast number of companies seeking to develop IoT revenue opportunities. IBM have claimed that 90 per cent of all data generated by devices like smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances is never analysed or used. Operators have a huge opportunity to develop a similar platform that would enable revenue creation and consolidate the position of mobile technology in the broader IoT ecosystem.

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Poll suggests the wearable market is booming, but what are the prospects for the Apple Watch?

By the end of 2015, as much as 13 per cent of the UK population will own a wearable device such as a smartwatch or fitness band, according to a recent YouGov poll. YouGov’s, Wearables Tracker Wave 2, issued at the end of 2014, sampled both owners and non-owners of a wearable device in the UK, with the aim of determining market growth and identifying key demographics in the market.
Focusing primarily on smart watches and fitness bands, the polling data provides a number of useful insights into those who own, and are interested in buying a wearable in the future. YouGov have been monitoring the wearables market since the beginning of 2014, when they gauged market penetration at 2 percent. In September 2014, they judged it to be 6 per cent, their recent prediction of 13 per cent by the end of 2015, provides yet more evidence of the growing opportunity in the wearables market.
According to the report, smart watch owners are mostly male (70 per cent) and aged between 25-44. On the other hand, females are more likely to own a fitness band (51 per cent), but there is a much more even spread of ages here, with almost as many owners aged 55+ (26 per cent) as those aged 35-44 (27 per cent).
In all likelihood, smart watches will continue to be purchased predominantly by males (70 per cent), whilst fitness bands are judged to be mainly bought by women (72 per cent). Unsurprisingly, key social grades for both will be working professionals (ABC1), and will most likely be between the ages of 35-44 (30 per cent for smart watches and 29 per cent for fitness bands). The appeal of both smart watches and fitness bands for those aged 55+ is also predicted to last, with that age group forming 19 per cent and 22 per cent of each respective market.
YouGov’s poll suggests people are becoming increasingly aware of wearable devices: those who were aware of smart watches grew 73 per cent to 81 per cent, from September-November 2014, whilst those who were aware of fitness bands increased from 66 per cent to 73 percent over the same period.
According to Yougov’s polling data, this increased awareness of wearables coincides with announcement of the Apple Watch, which has also led to Apple overtaking Samsung as the most well-known wearables brand. Indeed, the majority of respondents (57 per cent) claimed they would consider buying an Apple wearable, more than any other brand.
However, last week an article in The Economist cast an element of doubt on the mass-market penetration of the Watch, citing its short battery life of 18 hours, compared with the Pebble’s 7 day battery or the Timex, Ironman One’s 3 day battery life. Moreover, the article also included research by bank, Morgan Stanley, which revealed that most people they had interviewed were unwilling to pay the entry level price of $349. The lack of cellular connectivity in the Watch means there will be no subsidy from operators that would otherwise keep the upfront cost down.
At Mobile World Congress 2015, operator, AT&T, demonstrated some of the exclusive functions of cellular-connected devices, and their broader vision of how the smart watch will play a big part in connecting devices, and act as a control hub for home appliances which can be remotely operated. This will involve shared data plans; being able to share your data across home, watch and car, for which there will be a need for a need for cellular connection.
Although the Apple Watch has gained widespread publicitywhich bodes well for its short term  prospectsthis will also have alerted those who are not tech-savvy, to the very existence wearables, and thus potentially to other brands in the market. Whilst YouGov’s poll suggests people are interested in purchasing the Watch, consumers are still largely unaware of the specifics of the IoT and the benefits of cellular connectivity. When it becomes common knowledge that cellular-connected wearables offer a much greater potential range of functions, the first question people may ask before making a purchase may well be: ‘how is this device connected?’.

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New report backs mass adoption of wearables

Over the past six months, there has been a spate of analyst reports on the wearables market, many of which forecast mass-market penetration within the next few years. Earlier this month the GSMA, working with KRC Research, released The Impact of The Internet of Things: The Connected Home, which reported that approximately twenty four per cent of technology enthusiasts surveyed already own an activity tracker, while nineteen per cent have a smart watch.

In February 2015, another report, The Market for Smart Wearable Technology was published by Nick Hunn of WiFore Consulting, which contained yet more evidence of the rapid growth of the wearables market in the next few years.

In line with other major market predictions, Hunn estimates that the wearables market will be worth $30 billion by 2020. However this is dependent on those in industry engaging with the needs of everyday people and their behaviour, as well as ‘high profile techies’ or early adopters. As a result, Hunn anticipates the market growing according to people’s current needs, e.g. the need to track pets or children, rather than the consumer being swept away by spectacular novelties like wearable glasses.

Health & fitness and Personal medical & assisted living are two of the key segments in the market poised for rapid growth, both of which will present a huge opportunity for operators in the form of cellular-connected wearables. Geofencing, which at the moment, is predominantly deployed to alert carers to wandering or lost Alzheimer’s patients, is predicted to rise in adoption, and will likely run on low power M2M networks.

Similarly, child trackers with a cellular connection are also predicted to soar in popularity, with the market growing, to $450 million by 2020, up from around $10 million in 2015. Indeed cellular connected devices designed for this purpose have already been developed, some of which were recently showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015.

Connected pet accessories also present a considerable market opportunity for operators. Again, the Geofencing and tracking of pets, puts operators in a unique position to develop future revenue streams and according to Hunn, the connected pet accessory market will be worth $230 million in 2020, from approximately $40 million in 2015.

Nick Hunn’s report reinforces the prediction that operators have a unique role to play in the wearables market, and despite his scepticism of other industry predictions and their approaches, is confident of the rapid growth of the wearables market. To read Hunn’s report, The Market for Smart Wearable Technology, please click here.

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The ‘Showcase’ in the Innovation City: BlueSmart and Telefónica in connected suitcase partnership

Bluesmart Partners with Telefónica to offer 3G enabled Luggage Global Location Tracking

Bluesmart, the world’s first smart, connected luggage company, and operator, Telefónica, have announced an exclusive partnership to provide Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity and location tracking for the Bluesmart Connected Carryon, which is now being demonstrated in the Innovation City.

Thanks to the partnership Bluesmart will be able to include inside of their luggage a Telefónica powered SIM card. Through Telefónica M2M network, Bluesmart will be able to track the location of their smart suitcases anywhere in the world where Telefónica has coverage. The M2M technology has also been utilized in Tesla’s latest development of connected cars. Through direct coverage and roaming agreements Telefónica covers the entire connected world.

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The Bluesmart Carryon can be tracked anywhere in the world, powered by 3Gconnectivity, allowing users to recover their lost bags from the airlines. Additionally the suitcase features a Bluetooth enabled remote lock that let users lock and and unlock their bags from their smartphone, and that locks automatically when the bag is separated from the user, providing maximum safety to the users’ belongings. The suitcase also features a built in battery charger, letting users recharge their smartphones on the go up to six times over. Finally the suitcase features a built in scale that communicates the exact weight of the suitcase to the companion app, helping users avoid paying extra baggage fees or being forced to check for extra weight. Through the companion app users can track their miles travelled and get smart trip notifications.

The Partnership again underscores the huge role that mobile network operators have in shaping the future of M2M and the IoT by providing connectivity to a range of simple, everyday objects to give them enhanced functionality. The Bluesmart suitcase is now showcasing in the Innovation City alongside a host of other state-of-the-art products and services. We encourage everyone at MWC to visit and witness first-hand, the benefits of connected life.

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Exploring the Innovation City: Partner Showcases at MWC 15

  • Multiple Connected Car demonstrations highlight market potential
  • AT&T Underscore commitment to M2M
  • More M2M and IoT devices for the Connected home revealed at Innovation City

 

The GSMA partner showcases at the GSMA Innovation City this year feature the most state-of-the-art products and services in Machine to Machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT).Most striking about Innovation City this year, and Mobile World Congress in general is the growing number automakers showcasing connected cars. The Innovation City featured four cars on display- one displayed by Vodafone and the other four exhibited by AT&T, who clearly see massive market potential in the Connected car.

According Shane Rooney, Executive Director, Connected Living, GSMA, “Mobile World Congress…reflects the very latest mobile technology and the huge presence of automakers at the show this year demonstrates that this is fast becoming a huge growth area. Indeed, Machina Research predicts that the number of in-car mobile connections will grow from 4.3 million today to 645 million by 2024 at a CAGR of 65%. There were numerous brands including Ford, General Motors, Audi, Maserati, Porsche and Cadillac amongst others all demonstrating new in-car services using cellular connectivity such as entertainment, security and insurance”.

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The centrepiece of Vodafone’s exhibition was the new Porsche Panamera, which it is providing the connectivity for to deliver a host of new capabilities across security, safety and insurance. For example, a driver can synchronise their car with their smart phone to keep themselves remotely updated with the car’s security, location, diagnostics, mileage and fuel consumption. This follows in the footsteps of Vodafone’s acquisition of automotive technologies company, Cobra in June 2014,  which has given it more focused expertise in automotive sector.

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AT&T’s Connected cars are part of its broader vision for the ‘Connected Life’ which outlines  a complete user experience comprised of the Connected car and Digital Life, which is essentially the operator’s Connected home solution.

The presence of the Connected Car at the show highlights the significant role that cellular technology plays in connecting in-vehicle services such as infotainment applications, driver behaviour data, fuel consumption and diagnostics. AT&T’s Digital Life is a clear demonstration of how it is making significant inroads into the connected home by offering clear benefits to the consumer such as its security and home automation services that are managed through a smartphone app or wearable wrist device. AT&T’s commitment to M2M and IoT was underscored by the location and content of its exhibition which was exclusively based on M2M and entirely contained within the Innovation City.

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KT are concentrating heavily on how M2M and the IoT can improve everyday household items and activities with a wide range of demonstrations and services. The Korean mobile network operator showcased a virtual domestic environment where you could experience different aspects of how mobile connectivity and M2M services are improving the lives of consumers.. These include: a urine sample health monitoring device, which measures blood levels, protein and blood cell levels, as well as a connected exercise bike which uses sensors attached to a person’s leg to send performance data to a smartphone and via an IP Connected TV.

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Oral hygiene products company, Oral-B, showcased its connected SmartSeries electric tooth brush at Innovation City in a lifelike dental spa. The toothbrush connects to the Oral-B App, which provides real-time guidance to users brushing their teeth. The App records brushing activity and allows the brusher to share this data with dental professionals. The App also signals when the user should reduce the acceleration rate at which he/she brushes his/her teeth. Oral-B demonstrates that such results are achieved by allowing the user to view news articles or videos, for example, while they are brushing their teeth.

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Sierra Wireless highlighted the role that its modules are playing in the M2M/IoT space. The organisation currently works closely with energy management company, Schneider Electric and helps them to connect electric charging terminals. Sierra also highlighted another project which uses embedded wireless modules to provide connectivity for the ‘CityTouch LightWave’ remote lighting management system project. CityTouch LightWave is a solution that allows city lights, within smart cities, to be connected. As a result, street lighting can be monitored and managed effectively so that lighting can easily adapt to both natural light and weather which in turn leads to a more efficient consumption of energy.

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M2M Platform provider, Jasper, demonstrated its industrial equipment aimed at a range of verticals and designed to provide lower support costs and enable remote use. They also featured a connected vending machine which can measure the type and time of purchase for products and automatically feeds data back to the food supplier who can in turn deliver less frequent, and more catered shipments.

There were numerous experiences, demonstrations and showcases exhibited throughout the day in Innovation City which gave a rich sense of how M2M and the IoT offer a completely new user experience, particularly the journey through the mobile network using Oculus Rift. According to Andrew Parker, Marketing Director, Connected Living, GSMA “The huge number of VIPs, high profile delegates, industry figures and media personnel – which included a personal visit from the king of Spain – reflects the growing interest in this space and recognition that the IoT is now more reality than concept. We look forward to continuing our demonstrations in the Innovation City throughout the week and welcome anyone to join us in experiencing the benefits of connected life”.

 

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