Insights into the Internet of Things technology–as explained by expert

10Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Commentary
Insights into the Internet of Things technology–as explained by expert

FOR many people the very term ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) conjures images of objects flying in orbit, held in conformity by some central magnetic force. If this is your vision, then you are not far from reality.

But the fact is that IOT is little more than ‘Over The Air’ (OTA) networking or convergence of devices installed with communication chips or software that can ‘speak’ to each other and exchange information directly or using a central point known as ‘the cloud’.

As recently as ten years ago, the idea of convergent consumer technologies sounded much like artificial intelligence science fiction. However, technology has made large leaps ahead in the last few years and embedded itself more firmly as part of our daily lives.

As IOT technology makes its way into the Tanzanian market, Cumii CEO Norman Moyo notes: “IOT is a crucial part of all aspects and dimensions of life in Africa. It serves as an avenue for the booming population to access endless opportunities that this continent has. It presents Africa with the opportunity to catch up with the rest of the world in issues relating to economic, social and political development.”

“IOT will change the lives of millions across Africa by making life safer and simpler. It has positive measurable impact on facets such as agriculture, health, industrialisation, research, energy and commerce, just to mention a few, on the continent,” adds Moyo.

Globally the way in which the world is consuming technology has changed. From the growth of domestic businesses through easier and cheaper access to finance to the efficient management and delivery of power, the opportunities for technologies such as the IOT are endless

Moyo, whose firm Cumii is a pan-African IOT company with operations across Africa and a member of the Eco-net Group, draws examples from the power and influence of technology from tech trends across the globe, saying: “Today there are many companies, most less than 15 years old, that dominate as the world’s wealthiest. The list points to opportunities that technology embodies.”

The current economic landscape, growth and success at the micro and macro levels is no longer determined by physical resource endowment but, rather, by innovation. In Africa, the potential for growth of IOT is vast, with the most crucial areas being health, transport & logistics, and energy. This is very much the case for Tanzania, where Cumii has identified and focused its efforts in the health and transport sectors.

Moyo explains why: “From a wide array of the IOT-based products that we could have launched into the Tanzanian market, we felt that ConnectedCar (known locally as Vodacom ConnectedCar) and ConnectedHealth were the right choices in terms of business opportunities as well as social and national relevance, adding: “We also believe in the basic strategic ethos that one should do only what you one is good at. We have built considerable experience in the two products from markets like Zimbabwe, where we have established a footprint.”

Working in partnership with top companies like Vodacom in launching its IOT solutions, Cumii has several other solutions available in Tanzania. The list includes ConnectedCar – in partnership with Vodacom. This is a world class vehicle monitoring and fleet management solution hinged on a dynamic connected assets agnostic platform.

The ConnectedCar platform is aligned to the IOT and big data developments being pursued by big technology companies such as Google, Amazon, Samsung and Apple. The platform can connect/integrate with over 500 types of tracking devices available in the market.

Then there is Connected Health, where the main focus is on diabetes and hypertension, as in over 70 per cent of the time these two conditions are related. Cumii have come into the market with connected health devices that enable patients to monitor their own blood sugar and pressure at home.

Chiefly thanks to the connected nature of the devices, they will be able to send the results of each test to a cloud platform that will be accessed by their respective doctors as well as family stakeholders. Also available is an integrated connected device that can be used by health workers in the rural areas, where most people do not have direct and easy access to health facilities.

Third comes the Cumii Connected Home. In this solution, a home is kitted with sensors, cameras, smart plugs and energy monitoring devices all linked to the owners mobile via a smart app. With such connections, one is able to monitor one’s whereabouts from anywhere in the world. This enhances security and enhances efficiency in energy use and management.
Fourth is Remote Generator Monitoring System.

With this solution, generators are fitted with connected monitoring equipment that sends information of various key performance indicators (KPIs) that customers want tracked. These include fuel monitoring, running time, efficiency, service scheduling, vibrations and physical tempering.

On the list, too, is Asset Tracking – a solution similar to Radar from Blackberry. Also included are asset-tracking devices in IOT’s device offering. Such examples are container and trailer trackers with a longer battery life (over two years) as well as RFID-based tracking devices which can be used to track assets such as furniture and laptops. All the devices are can be connected to the ConnectedCar Agnostic Platform.

In an era where large amounts of data are stored in the “cloud”, security has become a major concern. Moyo advises that cloud storage is still the safest way of storing data, and many strict security protocols are used to ensure data safety and protection.

Moyo says that with operations in Zimbabwe as well as East and Central African countries including Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda, Cumii is determined to provide solutions that speak to individuals across the globe. He adds that the company believes in delivering solutions that address the needs of the people by working closely with both government and stakeholders.

“The response to our IOT-based products has been tremendously positive and it is also pleasing to note that in most of these markets we have been playing a pioneering role,” says the CEO, adding: “Technology is here to stay, and it is therefore important to understand how best it can serve us within our communities.”