China builds the great wall of IoT along 1,400km canal

12 Jan 2018

A stretch of China’s Grand Canal. Image: Hanyu Qiu/Shutterstock

China builds an IoT project like no other along a 1,400km stretch of canal that has been almost six years in the making.

A glut of new internet of things (IoT) technologies are announced every January as thousands of people descend on tech trade show CES in Las Vegas.

While many won’t necessarily bring any benefit to humanity (such as a connected shower), some other deals offer a bit more promise. One such example is Irish tech firm Cubic Telecom revealing that it is working with Qualcomm to develop new capabilities for the cars of tomorrow.

Cubic Telecom, which counts both Audi and Qualcomm as investors, said that it is working on exploiting the application processing and wireless capabilities of Qualcomm Snapdragon automotive modems.

Outside of the hustle and bustle of CES, hardware researchers revealed a way to cheaply and quickly develop graphene sensors for use in IoT humidity sensors.

The device requires no battery source as it harvests power from the receiver, making it more than ideal for the IoT space, where minimal maintenance and passive readings are essential for tasks in smart cities.

The great IoT wall of China is underway

China is not shy when it comes to massive infrastructure projects, and one of its latest aims is to utilise IoT on a scale seen almost nowhere else on the planet.

In a piece highlighted by IEEE Spectrum, China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project comprises three artificial canals, each of which is more than 1,000km long.

The IoT element comes in at the middle of the three canals and contains more than 100,000 individual sensors across a distance of 1,400km.

Planning for the network began in 2012 and is led by Yang Yang, director of the CAS Key Labratory of Wireless Sensor Network and Communication at the Shanghai Institute, who knew going into it that there would be many, many challenges.

But, nearly six years later, the network has successfully scanned the canal for problems such as structural damages or intruders as well as its water quality and flow rates.

“This system benefits more than 50m people daily, not mentioning the people along the project,” Yang said.

China to drive accelerated growth for cellular IoT in 2018

Sticking with China, market analysis of the country’s wider IoT infrastructure shows that growth for cellular IoT will accelerate in 2018.

The findings from Berg Insight estimate that the global number of cellular IoT subscribers increased by 56pc during 2017 to reach 647.5m, and should reach 1bn by the end of this year.

By 2022, there is expected to be 2.7bn IoT devices connected to cellular networks worldwide.

The Chinese government has set a goal to connect 600m devices to NB-IoT networks by 2020, replacing 2G technology, which accounted for the bulk of the 150m new cellular IoT connections added in the country in 2017.

T-Mobile gets its NB-IoT business off the ground in the US

T-Mobile is going toe-to-toe with its US rival Verizon in the narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) space with the launch of its new service, Magenta, at CES.

According to ZDNet, the plan is to charge organisations $6 per year per device on a large-scale sensor network, which was first launched in October of last year.

While typically geared towards the consumer market, Magenta will offer businesses the ability to sign up to a low-power and low-bandwidth network, making it particularly attractive for enterprise businesses and smart cities.

What gives T-Mobile an advantage over Verizon’s similar Cat-M service is that it uses a dedicated NB-IoT network, whereas Verizon’s works on existing LTE networks.

Angers to be home to new European IoT accelerator

Just a short drive outside of Paris will bring you to the city of Angers, home to Europe’s newest IoT accelerator. Indeed, Angers aims to become the model smart city of the near future.

According to VentureBeat, the Numa Angers IoT complex is set to launch in April and will help start-ups to take their prototype to production through a number of partnerships with experienced manufacturers.

It expands upon the original Numa accelerator launched in 2011, which has since expanded to eight cities including Moscow, New York and Barcelona.

“This is building the next step of the city’s innovation strategy,” said Romain Amblard, partnerships development director at Numa.

“Angers has a huge history of building things. We want to bring new start-ups to the territory and help them form industrial partnerships.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic