Internet of Things: What it means for India

There is now one Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled device for every second person living in India. The number of devices is set to increase to 1.9 billion units by 2020, with an IoT platform already the base of many of the services consumers use today.

Wearables such as FitBit record activity levels and gather overall health data which is sent to a smartphone or computer while virtual home assistants such as Amazon’s Echo use connectivity to interface with other devices. While consumer-focused IoT continues to develop, there is an increasing interest in the platform’s industry applications across sectors.

In agriculture, a sensor network could be used to build a decision platform that collects, analyses and presents crop data crossed with weather reports to build a predictive model which would help farmers increase yield, prevent crop disease reduce wastage and generate more income.

IoT could also help factories monitor capacity utilisation, energy consumption and status of various components across multiple locations which would help save costs and minimise energy consumption. The gathered data can also be used to create a ‘digital twin’ of a machine which can be used to run test simulations for future versions.

IoT also allows for more efficient public utility delivery; Bengaluru-based SmarterHomes’ smart water-meter service WaterOn enables communication between various meters which are installed at each water inlet in every apartment, helping residential complexes manage their water better.

Consumption data is stored for 45 days and is available through a mobile app. WaterOn has been installed in over 3,500 homes in Bengaluru where costs have dropped by 50%. Similar technologies can be adopted for other utilities such as power and gas, reducing transmission and distribution losses.

Logistics is another area where IoT can make a difference. IoT Research Labs from Hyderabad offers analytics-based fleet management solutions for transport. With just a sensor and an app, fleet owners can monitor real-time vehicle data such as fuel, temperature and location. Besides transportation, the platform could also be used by schools to track buses and ensure student safety.

The isolated applications of IoT are endless. For instance, IoT solutions could boost rural bank service delivery by monitoring cash levels in ATMs or tracking agents in remote areas. Collectively, these smart systems can be integrated into existing infrastructure over the IoT platform to act as the backbone of India’s Smart Cities.

Hewlett-Packard India’s Customer Experience Centre in Delhi demonstrates how IoT could make a city ‘smart’ through solutions such as an eHealth centre, smart surveillance, waste management systems and an Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) to act as a hub. HP’s IoT platform is also being used by the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd to build India’s first cloud-based ICCC.

A future powered by the Internet of things would require higher data speeds than are currently available. Companies such as Tata Communications and SenRa are working to implement Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) technology in India, which would be dedicated for IoT devices. Tata’s LoRa network has already reached 38 cities, with more to be covered over the next two years.

The government helped establish the first Centre of Excellence (CoE) for IoT in Bengaluru in 2016 to support start-ups such as SmarterHomes. Similar centres have been proposed for Vizag, Gandhinagar and Gurgaon.

The revised National Telecom Policy set to release in March this year is also expected to create the necessary regulatory framework for IoT to flourish in India, with network readiness being a priority. India’s IoT market is forecast to reach $15 billion in the next two years, or nearly 5% of the global market. With our expertise in IT and a rich talent pool, this an opportunity we cannot pass up.

Keywords: IOT India, Internet of Things India, Digital India

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