This complex race to bridge our worlds is taken on by teams across multiple industries dedicated to connecting everything from lamps and washing machines to wrist watches and cars. Source: Shutterstock

Paving the road for Internet of Things

By Telenor Connexion VP and Head of Asia Pacific Mikael Lindholm

THE Internet of Things is bringing our physical and digital world closer than ever before, as broadband encases the planet and technologies shrink the spaces required to embed sensors and signal points. A term first coined in the early 1980s following the modification of a vending machine able to report its inventory and temperature of newly loaded drinks, IoT has evolved to include the connection of any device to the Internet and to each other.

This complex race to bridge our worlds is taken on by teams across multiple industries dedicated to connecting everything from lamps and washing machines to wrist watches and cars. But while the excitement and novelty of turning a traditional product into a connected one grow, the journey to get there is not easy.

In the case of IoT, the “how” is a more complex question than “what”. Amidst the unbarred opportunities of IoT lies the challenge of unchartered territories: protecting the right to privacy while letting people enjoy the benefits of being connected, measured and analyzed. As part of this growing discussion, last month, Northstream and Telenor Connexion issued a report to guide companies on the fundamental changes required to establish such a business model.

Notable frontrunners in the IoT race such as the automotive industry must, in particular, carefully approach this challenge to ensure safety and security of consumers. Licensing technologies and patents as well as engaging cross-sector collaboration in the world’s connected car network are steps in the right direction. However, given the complex network of digital systems that must work together to create a single connected vehicle, vulnerabilities can exist when no one connection is perfectly secure and no one single company is ultimately responsible for securing them, especially this early on.

Platforms to drive best practices and innovation

Industries that supply the infrastructure, connections, content and cloud technology required to power IoT have the opportunity, if not responsibility, to take a leadership role in initiating cross-industry dialogue that can coalesce diverse technologies from multiple players into agreed upon standards that will seamlessly power our next generation of connectedness.

Specifically, telecom operators have a central role in this movement. Globally, more than 250 million connected vehicles are projected to be on the road by 2020, and it’s logical IoT cars and trucks become a focal point for the telecoms industry. Not only are connected cars catching on fast, their connections are also gaining speed. A recent IDC study predicts the global annual data volume will reach 44 zettabytes (44 billion terabytes) by 2020, with connected in-car services and entertainment streams a major contributor to this growth. The telecoms industry must prepare for the increased bandwidth and speed requirements required to fuel the car of the future.

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With this in mind, Telenor recently established the Nordic Car Connect Forum to provide a centralized meeting point where the necessary dialogue around the connected vehicle could take place irrespective of sector, company size and borders. Such forums provide a platform where maps of innovation and breakthrough can be drawn against best practices unique to the needs and standard of the market – a model that equally can benefit any region, and Asia in particular, where every major automotive manufacturer is either represented or headquartered.

IoT – new frontier of the apps market

Telenor’s new IoT app that lets drivers keep track of their cars is an early example of the exploding app ecosystem for cars of the future. In a region forecasted to have more than 600 million new mobile service subscribers by 2020 as well as a burgeoning start-up community, the marketplace for IoT and connected vehicles in Asia offers boundless opportunities for developers to build new services, content and apps across the shared value chain – with the ultimate goal of creating a fully autonomous driverless car. It’s a feat already secured in Asia by Singaporean start-up nuTonomy and echoed by the region’s keen interest in automotive technology innovation.

A recent social media survey conducted by Telenor Group in markets between Pakistan and Singapore backs this up. More than one in three respondents (in its 215 person sample) said they believed autonomous vehicles will be 2017’s top tech disruptor.

Assembly instructions required

With new players rushing to be part of the IoT boom, it is crucial to ensure clear parameters for privacy and security. For the Internet of Things to take off on its predicted trajectory, security and privacy must be adopted throughout the ecosystem and built-in from the start.

Last year, the GSMA announced the Internet of Things Security Guidelines developed in consultation with Telenor Connexion and other mobile operators to promote the secure deployment of services in the growing IoT market. The GSMA’s IoT Security Guidelines have been designed for all players in the IoT ecosystem including service providers, device manufacturers and developers. These guidelines, as a start, will help both start-ups and established companies build secure services by will outlining technologies and methods to address potential threats, as well as how to implement security and privacy into their processes.

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These processes are key in the inherently shared ecosystem in which IoT must operate – across public and private sectors. Ensuring there are uniform standards governing IoT will enable partners with a clear roadmap to create a bevy of rich services across industries, services and products to revolutionize the way we live, work and travel.