The term IoT (Internet of Things) can be dated back to 1999, when it was initially pushed as an upcoming trend – the ‘future.’ Today, after a decade of developments and planning, IoT has emerged as a popular concept for a range of industries. In fact, the most interesting facet of the idea is its comprehensiveness, as IoT goes beyond the limitations of being confined to a specific industry alone – altering the way of life by providing a big data being translated into valuable real-time information, and thus creating a network of opportunities.
Just like any technological progression, IoT has strengthened its place in the developed world – with end-to-end IoT applications providing connectivity and transforming people’s lives over a series of verticals, including mobility, wearables, health, homes, and the ultimate transformation to Smart Cities. However, the question arises, is IoT applicable in the developing economies or is it just a luxury restricted to the developed world?
Connectivity driven by IoT has created scope for improvements in healthcare, agriculture, energy, natural resource management, and operational efficiency – which have been highlighted specifically in the UN’s sustainable development program. Relevance of IoT in the developing world can be supported by its role in enhancing efficiency (fewer resources can produce higher gains), and ultimately realizing the attainment of Millennium Development Goals through sustainable economic growth and job creation. IoT case studies indicate the influence of the ‘leapfrog effect’ in developing countries – whereby the absence of legacy systems allows for faster and straight forward implementation of IoT systems and applications. The robust approach of India towards ‘transforming India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy’ under its Digital India Program stands out to be a leading example for others. The Indian government has invested heavily in the development of IoT infrastructure, projecting a $15 Billion market by 2020 with leading projects in the categories of smart cities, water, environment, waste management, agriculture, safety, and supply chain.
Case studies point out applications of IoT in various fields pertinent to the developing world such as the use of sensory technology in agricultural fields to monitor soil conditions or moisture levels, distant diagnosis of diseases in healthcare, and provision of affordable electricity through off-grid solar systems. These specimens reveal the enablement of a proactive approach towards development rather than a reactive one where problems and issues are eradicated holistically rather than solutions are generated for specific pain points alone.
The ubiquity of IoT implications indicate the need for carefully designed policy frameworks which should be inclusive of the various factors shaping impact of IoT across different industries. It is vital that the governments of developing countries initiate an IoT framework in order to provide support for infrastructure development and wireless connectivity in addition to formulating significant policies which reflect a change in the ‘mindset’ – thus a step towards bridging digital gap which many developing economies undergo currently.
Amna Israr is an aspiring marketer and currently looks after the Channel Marketing for the Internet of Things division in Telenor Pakistan. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/amna-israr. Learn how Unified Inbox’s UnificationEngine™ platform enables communications with complex systems through IoT Messaging at http://unificationengine.com!