Vodafone’s Lauren Morris outlines the key infrastructural challenges and opportunities posed by the onset of the internet of things (IoT).
In recent months, Vodafone and EMC invested €2m in an internet of things industrial test platform. The new testbed will provide facilities for the testing and exploration of technologies like machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
The IoT Innovation platform is spread across three data centres in Cork: EMC, Vodafone, and data centre and cloud provider Cork Internet eXchange (CIX).
Lauren Morris, Vodafone’s M2M country sales manager, explains the core infrastructure that will be required to develop the internet of things across Ireland.
‘IoT is likely to drive requirements for all sorts of connectivity needs – some with high data usage for sending video and images, others needing fast connections for latency dependent applications’
– LAUREN MORRIS
“In my view, there are three main infrastructure elements required. Firstly, connectivity options that are fit for purpose for a myriad of cases, some with mission critical requirements, and some to a lesser extent. IoT is likely to drive requirements for all sorts of connectivity needs – some with high data usage for sending video and images, others needing fast connections for latency dependent applications such as security monitoring or emergency IP Voice services, and many more needing robust and low-cost communications options – all required in both highly-populated cities and remote rural locations.
“Secondly, the right data-gathering tools need to be available to capture, interrogate and extract value from the information collected to really learn and make decisions. These may be simple notification systems triggering, for example, a technician to call-out to repair a piece of machinery. As IoT becomes more mature, we expect that machines such as photocopiers will not only request technician repair callouts, but will be able to potentially identify the closest technician with adequate van stock available to visit it and remedy the repair issue.
“Finally, we need to have security policies and standards-based protocols in place to allow for sharing of this crucial information in a secure and ethical way.”
According to Morris, Vodafone has a global network of 17m M2M devices, of which over 200,000 are functioning in Ireland.
Morris says that Vodafone continues to invest in enhancing its global M2M service to offer greater speeds, coverage and scale globally.
“We anticipate growth in both base and data usage, and have invested heavily in adding resilience and capacity to our network in Ireland and around the world. We are continuing to innovate as demonstrated in the recent Gartner report, which acknowledges that Vodafone is the leader in the Managed Machine-to-Machine services worldwide.
“Our M2M devices portfolio is growing, including – from the end of this calendar year – LTE routers for critical IoT applications where large volumes of data are being sent and received and real time transmission is critical, such as video surveillance, retail, payment and business continuity solutions.
“We are also working to include in the medium term Cat 0 LTE devices with long battery life for a range of environmental conditions where IoT services are often installed and not touched for years at a time.
“Finally, we are investing in our people to ensure our teams can provide the best technical, strategic and commercial advice to customers and technologists when implementing an IoT solution.”
In terms of infrastructure challenges that could hold up the internet of things, Morris believes we need to invest in the infrastructure of the mind: brain power.
“As with many technological revolutions, we need to ensure we have the right training and investment in our schools to ensure that the emerging workforce can continue to innovate to bring new IoT services to the world.”
The industrial internet of things
Morris believes that we are in a unique position here in Ireland to have a perfect melting pot for IoT development: access to a highly skilled and innovative workforce; the opportunity generated by a large volume of multinationals per capita, particularly those with R&D functions across the technology, medical devices and pharmaceutical and manufacturing verticals; and excellent technical infrastructure in terms of our fixed and mobile communications networks and data centre services.
“As a result, we are seeing demand coming from the local market, and the capability is now here to support test and develop these new solutions.”
‘We’ve been working with key customers on specific projects within the smart city and automotive sectors’
– LAUREN MORRIS
“IoT offers a new way for traditional business to go to market, reach new audiences around the world and improve customer experience of their product. For example, manufacturers can move from selling widgets to selling connected widgets with added intelligence and useful knowledge to share with a purchaser.
“This changes the relationship they have with their customer from a once-off sale to a recurring service model, allowing them to offer more to their customer throughout the term of their contract. This typically increases the wallet share for the manufacturer, and the customer experience and perceived value for the purchaser.”
In terms of how the €2m industrial internet of things testbed with EMC came about, Morris explained that the concept was brought to Vodafone by EMC.
“The testbed concept was brought to us by EMC at a time when we were keen to develop something for the market in Ireland. We are seeing a number of technologists and innovators keen to test out their prototypes, and needed the right guidance and technology to make it a reality.
“With EMC’s insight, we worked together to put the testbed together.
“Since setup, we’ve been working with key customers on specific projects within the smart city and automotive sectors,” Morris said.
IoT Makers Week explores the internet of things revolution and the makers driving it with reports on Siliconrepublic.com from 5 to 9 October 2015. Get updates by subscribing to our news alerts or following@siliconrepublic and the hashtag #IoTMakersWeek on Twitter.