South Africa is ready for IoT (Internet of Things)
According to a recent research done by Vodafone, the IoT Barometer Report, South African businesses are ready to embrace IoT (Internet of Things). The report is based on a global survey of different businesses on their sentiments towards IoT, the survey was conducted in 13 countries with over 1000 respondents and ranged from SME’s to larger multinationals companies. South African respondents represented 10% of the report and 57% of them said they will be using IoT in the next 12/24 months to manage risk and this is important because most of the respondents are key decisions makers in their organizations.
What is IoT (Internet of Things)
The IoT (Internet of things) is a network of interconnected devices that share and exchange information amongst themselves using the internet. The ‘’things” in IoT could mean any physical device (cars, heart monitor implant, smartphone, stove, lights etc) that is electronically embedded with a software that can transfer data over a network. These devices have unique identifiers (usually an IP address) and usually connect over a wireless network such as WiFi to exchange information. For example, an IoT network at home could mean the connection of your lights, swimming pool pump, computer, fridge, and tv all connected to your phone through a local network. On your phone you will be able to monitor and control these devices, for example, you can switch the pump off while at work, that is some of the possibilities with IoT.
The significance of IoT
The problem IoT is addressing is machine efficiency and productivity while minimising human-to-computer interaction. The idea with machine efficiency is that machines could be more productive and efficient if they could “talk to each other” instead of working in isolation. The other part deals with reducing human-to-computer interaction, with so much data to store, collect and process it is impossible for humans to handle effectively all the data.
Imagine being in an accident, your smartwatch has alerted your phone of a sudden drop or spike in heart rate, your phone which is connected to your car and smartwatch then alerts medical teams of the accident with your current conditions and location. Shortly after that, your car also alerts oncoming traffic of the car accident and advises them to take alternative routes. Later on, insurance companies and authorities can use the collected data from all the devices to be able to determine what actually happened. Gathering and processing all that information accurately and fast has great value to everyone involved, and without IoT, it will be impossible for humans to do.
IoT in South Africa
There are many useful applications of IoT in South Africa and immediate uses could be in energy, disaster relief, production and manufacturing, mining, education, and transportation. Some industries may take long to adapt to IoT in South Africa due to lack of proper infrastructure and access to fast broadband. Here are some few projects that can be implemented with IoT in South Africa.
Since there are still parts of the country that rely on river water or water collected from dams for drinking water, IoT can be deployed by using sensors connected to the internet that to monitor water quality. Residents living around the area can be able to check the water quality on their phones through the internet and share the information with others nearby.
The fight against rhino poaching is not over, IoT systems can be deployed to reduce rhino poaching and other endangered species by using drones, sensors, and RFID tags to monitor their movements.
With the energy crisis the country has been experiencing the past few years, the government can come up with policies and regulations to incentivize smart homes that use IoT to save electricity. A smart home is a house that uses IoT to monitor and control electrical devices.
Developing countries around the world are using IoT to improve the standard of living through innovation and it is reassuring to know that South Africans are embracing the technology which is still new. However, there are some safety concerns regarding IoT such as data privacy which still needs to be discussed in detail by law makers. According to Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for the Internet of Things at Vodacom, ‘’Vodafone’s latest research findings prove that IoT is becoming an essential component of digital strategy in South Africa, with respondents confident that IoT will improve their business outcomes in future.’’