Will China become the Game changer?
Cisco Systems futurist Dave Evans predicts that the Internet of Things (IoT) will link approximately 50 billion machines and devices by 2020. His vision is a world of networked smart devices equipped with sensors and radio-frequency identification. The internet of things is already here as evident in the automotive, transport and surveillance industries for example, there are several car models that can monitor their own internal functions and alert their owners about needed maintenance.
Experts like IEEE Senior Member Oleg Logvinov, director of market development at STMicroelectronics believe that the current application of IoT is just a scratch on the surface of what is possible, “integrating sensors and actuators with the cloud will be one area that will define the development of IoT … The pervasive connectivity and distributed intelligence of the IoT will play increasingly important roles in our daily lives,” Logvinov says. “And standards are key to the IoT’s success because “no vibrant ecosystem can be built without interoperability achieved on many levels. And interoperability is not possible without standards, for which IEEE is a perfect platform for IoT-related collaborations.”
IEEE has begun establishing relationships with China Communications Standards Association (CCSA) and similar groups as well as holding conferences and workshops around the world to discuss with industry the systems; infrastructure, applications, and standards that are needed for the basic technology, the interfaces, and even the procedures for initializing devices newly attached to the IoT. IEEE partnered with CCSA in June to hold an IoT standards workshop in Beijing. The country was a natural choice because Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had identified the IoT as one of the nation’s seven strategic emerging industries. China plans to invest 5 billion yuan (US $800 million) in the IoT industry by 2015.
“The IoT has the capacity to be a transformative force, positively impacting the lives of millions worldwide,” says Bingmei Wu, deputy secretary-general of the CCSA.
The workshop brought together leading global industry experts seeking ways to achieve a common IoT architecture. Representatives were on hand from China Telecom, the China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR), IBM, Siemens, and STMicroelectronics. Topics, in addition to current standards efforts, included convergent networks and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. (As of 2011, China had the largest M2M market in the world.)
Released in March 2011, IoT related standard IEEE 1888; Standard for Ubiquitous Green Community Control Network Protocol is the result of a global collaboration. It was started in China by companies, universities, and other organizations that wanted to reduce the nation’s surging energy use. It is the first corporate standards project to leverage information and communications technologies for energy savings.
Director of corporate programs for IEEE-SA Mary Lynne Nielsen says “Standardizing on a common architecture will help ensure interoperability, compatibility, and reliability, enabling the IoT to truly become a change agent for continued technology advancement,”
More than 40 Chinese municipalities have applied to build so-called smart cities, which would rely on IoT applications to make infrastructure and services—including education, health care, public safety, transportation, and utilities more interconnected and efficient says Yu Xiaohui, chief engineer of CATR, which is part of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. He reported at the workshop that IoT applications in China were being used mainly in food security and in steel, petrochemicals, and automobile manufacturing. For example, the country’s Ministries of Commerce and Finance jointly developed a tracking and tracing system using RFID and bar codes to ensure food safety for meat and vegetables in 20 cities. The other industries are developing IoT applications for such tasks as managing the supply chain, improving manufacturing processes, and controlling energy consumption.“The IoT will be the key for smart-city construction, and the development of smart cities will provide the application market for the IoT,” he said.
The video below is an interview with Chuck Adams, 2009-2010 IEEE-SA President, Ning Hua, IEEE Chief Representative China, and Bill Ash, IEEE-SA Strategic Program Manager, after IEEE Standards Association IoT forum in Beijing on June 7, 2012