NZTech probes the case for IoT

Published on the 20/03/2017 | Written by Newsdesk

NZTech_IoT type technologies

Things’ that could hold the key to boosting Kiwi productivity and prosperity…

A collaborative national research project is underway to better understand the potential benefits (and risks) of IoT for the New Zealand economy. Managed by NZTech, the project brings together tech users, tech firms, the government, academia and industry groups such as TUANZ and InternetNZ, all which have an interest in the potential impact of IoT for the country.

In a statement, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said that while much of the hype around IoT is derived from consumer devices such as fitness trackers and intelligent fridges (neither of which iStart believes are examples of IoT applications at all – fitness trackers generally don’t connect to the internet, instead connecting via a smartphone; while the ‘internet fridge’ is, in effect, just another Network Interface Card),  the real value is in enterprise and government applications. “While IoT is a rapidly developing technology, understanding of its potential is still relatively limited. By undertaking a collaborative research project with the government, the tech sector and tech users we have an opportunity to raise the profile of IoT and highlight its potential,” he noted.

In an environment where fast broadband is becoming more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with wi-fi capabilities, technology costs are dropping, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing, Muller said IoT is becoming a growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it.

Not mentioned by NZTech but entirely apposite to IoT, companies like Kordia and Direct Control are rolling out the essential ‘missing links’ in the IoT – links which are often overlooked. After all, in the field, the tiny sensors on ‘everything’ have to connect to ‘something’. Mobile phone networks are too expensive and require bulky SIMs, so that ‘something’ is LoraWan or Sigfox: ultra-low-cost, long-range, wide area networks which allow cheap, ubiquitous sensors to be used.

Putting all these rapid developments into the mix is creating a platform for IoT to take off, Muller said. “The research [we’re doing] will also help us understand opportunities that IoT could create for different sectors, and any barriers or challenges that may need to be addressed to accelerate deployment. IoT presents a massive opportunity for technology to drive New Zealand’s economic growth. Yet to accelerate deployment and uptake, a better understanding of the opportunities is needed.”

He said initial observations were cause for optimism. “While current uptake is very low, with only around 10 percent of New Zealand businesses having deployed or currently planning to deploying IoT type technologies, New Zealand has all the ingredients for a business environment that will support accelerated growth. Compared to the G20 nations, New Zealand scores well for IoT readiness due to ease of doing business, government stability, regulatory quality, a good innovation ecosystem and education system.”

NZTech said initial economic analysis has identified potential economic benefits in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy through the deployment of IoT in sectors as diverse as agriculture, utilities, manufacturing, logistics and smart city services.

The research will be published in June this year. Global researcher IDC forecasts there will be 30.4 billion connected things worldwide by 2020.

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