Building a future for IoT in Ireland with Vodafone

16 May 2016

Lauren Morris Head of IoT, Vodafone Ireland, via Connor McKenna

Lauren Morris, head of IoT at Vodafone Ireland, discusses the role the internet of things (IoT) will have in Ireland in the future, how prepared we are as a whole for the connected revolution and how infrastructural cooperation is key.

IoT Week

The surge in popularity of everything IoT can’t be missed, however, such an interconnected future cannot be achieved without the proper planning.

This planning comes from the Government, sure, but also from industry. Given it’s IoT, the leading actors of the telecoms industry, in particular, will be key to this technological future.

Vodafone, for its part, has 1,400 employees working on IoT infrastructure globally, at this very minute. “Where traditionally we were offering basic M2M connectivity,” explained Morris, “now it extends beyond that to communications, cloud, data analytics, and storage, as well as service operation.”

According to Morris, these tools and services are a priority for any sort of infrastructural support that companies can profit from. “We’ve got super coverage and capabilities locally in Ireland,” she said, noting €500m invested by Vodafone, claiming 4G coverage in 90pc of the country.

Nationwide planning

Vodafone is involved in the SIRO venture along with ESB, which is one of the potential companies looking to build two of the State broadband networks around the country.

The original National Broadband Plan had been to begin procurement by the middle of 2016 and bring broadband to 85pc of premises by 2018 and 100pc by 2020. That has been delayed, with 2017 the earliest any decision will be made, and 2022 the likely finish time of the plan.

It’s delays like this that show how difficult it is to get an entire country in line for the potential that is IoT. However, Morris thinks everybody needs to prep, soon.

“At a global level we’re investing heavily in our network,” said Morris. “This is a new area, there is a lot to be learned. I think it’s important that companies work together with industry and academics to help with this.”

Leading by example

Irish start-ups like Fleetmatics and Moocall are mentioned as shining lights, embracing IoT. As for others? “I hope so. There are still customers that don’t see the relevancy for them.”

Energy, utilities, security and smart cities are industries where IoT planning is way ahead, but it’s beyond this that Morris things there is “a huge amount of competitive advantage” to be gained.

“I think it’s important for businesses to recognise the value of their idea. Seek legal advice, get your IP patented if you can. There is some super innovation coming. I’d love Irish companies to get ahead.”

Ireland is already a global hub for data science, the west of the country is a dominant actor in pharma and medtech. There’s no reason why IoT should not be next.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic