IoT: Prospects and challenges of connecting everything.


The Internet Of Things (IoT) is a term that is becoming increasingly used by the day. A key driver for the connectivity of things is the implementation of applications and services within all dimensions and focus areas of “Smart Cities”. One can easily conclude the obvious; it’s all about connecting “things” to the Internet. However, the term is rather broad in scope and pertains to multiple dimensions or generic areas, focus areas and vertical industries. For this reason the “things” to be connected may vary greatly. The intention of this paper is to inform the reader as to what these “things” really are, how they are to be connected, to what and how they benefit so called “Smart Cities”. To gain a glimpse of the scale of the subject, a study by Cisco shows that there will be 50 billion devices or things connected to the Internet by 20201This number coincides with Ericsson’s expectations, among others2.

But let’s start with the purpose behind connecting all these devices. A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.

Although accurate, this is a rather complex definition to state that, basically, if we want to improve the way our cities work in all aspects, we need more modern and intelligent (smarter) infrastructure, services and applications. If we want for all this to happen we need more and better information (big and open data), we need automation, and we need centralized control and management of many systems. We need to leverage today’s edge technology.

So that we can better understand the scope of Smart Cities, let us look at the vision as defined with the city of Dubai and others, the picture below shows a classification of focus areas into virtual dimensions (generic areas of applicability used to group initatives):

The efforts of many players in the Telecom Industry are turning today into coming up with new services for each of those focus areas. The pillar to build these services is a modern Smart Infrastructure that is composed of devices or things connected through telecoms networks, back to data repositories, where all the information gathered from these devices is stored. Systems and platforms leverage and potentially analyse the stored information to manage and control the devices, to perform activities and events that depend on the information received, and to address the needs of users of all types, through services and applications.

An example of this, at City level, is the centralized monitoring and management of devices, systems and services. This is particularly tricky given that the amount of connected devices and systems is deemed to be considerable – and it rapidly grows as more things get connected. Monitoring and management applies also at district level, enterprise and even at the consumer level, meeting the individual desire to control home systems. Displayed dashboards and portals are also an important element in the IoT world as a way to consolidate and display information.

In this white paper we go on to discuss this concept and others such as:

– A closer look to ITU’s architecture for Smart Services
– So, what is IoT really and how it is different from M2M?
– Not as easy as it sounds – Main Challenges IoT is facing today
– IoT Standardization efforts
– Wireless Connectivity for the IoT
– Data collection, configuration and control of “Things”
– The Smart Services end to end problem – Leverage IoT Platforms and Consultancy
– Future of IoT – The Opportunity

Read the whole white paper, “Smart City and the Internet Of Things” including the following sections:

Author: Fernando Jover Aparicio is a Principal Consultant at NXN Advisory, specialising in Smart City strategy and implementation. 

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