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Internet of Things: Sensing Our Way into the Future

Internet of Things: Sensing Our Way into the Future

Governments worldwide are rolling out plans to develop the Internet of Things (IoT). A great many have policies designed to accelerate the trend towards smart cities, along with closer technological, economic and trade exchanges between countries. For them, it’s all too obvious that IoT is a vital new growth engine that’s essential for expansion of the digital economy.

What's less obvious, or at least less quantifiable, is the sheer scale of the economic impact that IoT will have. According to consulting firm McKinsey1, the impact could be as large as a staggering US$11 trillion by 2025, equivalent to 11% of the world economy.

Huawei forecasts2 that by 2025, there will be 100 billion connected devices, used in every area of business and life. This will be a time when, for example, your refrigerator will know what is inside it, and use that knowledge to send a shopping list to your mobile phone. As you drive past your favorite restaurants, your phone will automatically grab the vouchers and offers they are broadcasting – and find you a parking space in real time. Your car will continuously collect and analyze data on your driving habits, which will help insurance companies to set premiums at just the right level.

In the world of IoT, possibilities lie everywhere. All things sensing, all things connected: IoT offers enormous opportunities which all farsighted policymakers are striving to grasp.

Stories

Internet of Elevators Helps Schindler Cut Costs, Enhance Safety and Experience

Operating more than one million elevators and escalators globally, the Swiss-based Schindler Group is one of the world's leading providers of elevators, escalators, and related services. In the past, Schindler's elevators were mainly operated and maintained manually, resulting in high maintenance costs and inherent safety risks in the event of human error or negligence.

Now, Huawei is working with its partners to provide Schindler with an industry-leading Internet of Elevators solution. The solution will manage over a million elevators around the world on a single platform, automate operations and maintenance, and help Schindler overcome safety challenges.

Huawei's industrial predictive maintenance solution collects and transmits elevator data in real time to reduce the need for physical inspections. Using sophisticated data analytics on the cloud, it is possible to identify potential issues and send an alert in advance of a likely elevator malfunction. The solution helps reduce downtime by 90%, and maintenance costs by 50%.

Predictive maintenance not only eliminates safety risks, but also extends elevator service life. The solution also allows for new services, such as in-elevator advertising and innovative digital services for data monetization, which can create additional commercial value.

Smart Water Solution Helps Keep Drinking Water Safe

Sending utility staff to homes to read water meters in the traditional way has a variety of problems. It is costly, and sometimes meters are missed by mistake. More importantly, the traditional method does nothing to record water losses from pipes, which is a waste of resources and a cost. Incomplete measurements in China suggest that 37% of all mains water is lost through leaking pipes.

In March 2017, Huawei partnered with Shenzhen Water Group and China Telecom to launch the world's first commercial smart water network, deploying more than 1,200 NB-IoT-enabled smart water meters in Shenzhen as part of a comprehensive upgrade of the city's water management system. It was a complicated deployment, one requiring broad coverage across the entire city, plus physical depth of coverage, because the water meters are mostly located on underground inlets or in basements. However, the NB-IoT smart water meters provide exactly the functionality required. The meters use very little power because they stay in sleep mode except during the occasional meter readings. This means less maintenance and longer between battery replacements.

Smart water meters not only help save on the cost of labor involved in meter reading, but also improve data completeness and accuracy. To date, the utility is getting data from over 99.5% of its meters at every reading. The meters are also able to check water pressure, and compare throughput at different nodes of the pipe network, which enables the company to identify leaks and carry out preventive maintenance before problems escalate. Smart meters also enable differentiated rates at peak/non-peak times of day, helping the utility to smooth demand and use its water resources more efficiently.

AOD Smart Street Lighting Saves Energy and Costs

Advanced Optronic Devices (AOD) is the world's largest supplier of LED street lights. Its LED lights are designed for outdoor, commercial, and industrial use. Huawei partnered with AOD to deploy a smart street light solution in Weifang, a city located in China's Shandong province.The smart street light solution uses Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) over licensed spectrum, which offers excellent coverage and reliability. It allows for precise control, down to the brightness of each individual light, with options to program lighting patterns based on the season, weather, or other specific need. LED lighting already delivers power savings of 50% over traditional street lights; the smart lighting solution enables a further 10%–20% improvement in power saving.

The smart street light solution also supports remote fault detection and troubleshooting, thereby eliminating the need for manual inspections. Combined with lifecycle management based on the record of each street light, remote monitoring can reduce maintenance costs by about 50%.

Facing up to the challenges

IoT has the potential to significantly raise levels of efficiency and drive digital transformation in companies. However, challenges abound:

  • Standardizations:There are a number of different IoT architectures used in different industries, meaning that IoT as a whole is still fragmented and not well scaled. The industry is exploring how to integrate the various different IoT standards to reduce barriers to entry.
  • Connection parameters and security:Depending on the use case, each industry places a different emphasis on the type of IoT connection it requires. Some specify the breadth and depth of coverage; for some it is low-power devices, or low latency. Given the range of IoT technologies available, how does an industry select the right type of IoT and integrate it into commercial operations? How to put in place a holistic security process?
  • Monetization:Any new technology ultimately has to serve business objectives. Every industry needs to consider how it can leverage IoT and develop digital services to drive new growth.
  • Industry and ecosystem development: IoT is a complex ecosystem. The supply chain behind any IoT system is long, involving multiple manufacturers, integrators, operators, and vertical customers. How do you build wide-ranging alliances to knit partners into stable, sustainable business models in which all parties can succeed? How do you protect the interests of everyone and grow together? These questions are of crucial importance for the commercial application and the sustainable growth of IoT.

IoT starts with connectivity

From planning to deployment, commercial use, and expansion, companies will need to make significant investments of time and capital in IoT. To ensure a satisfactory return on their investments, companies will have to set clear goals based on their business strategy. Then their IoT journey can truly begin.

The start is often the hardest part, but once the momentum builds and the steps fall into place, so it becomes easier for enterprises as they move ahead. A simple three-step process can be applied:

Step 1: Build connections to gather data. Connectivity is the foundation of IoT. Connections vary in type and match different scenarios. When deciding on which type of connection, companies need to have a forward-looking strategy in mind; they need a connection that's stable, secure, and scalable – and, of course, at the optimum cost. For example, with smart parking, remote metering, and smart homes, as well as a myriad of industrial and manufacturing scenarios that have massive data transmission requirements, it is important to build connections that ensure low latency, wide coverage, and low power consumption. This is where Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) comes into play.

Step 2: Analyze data to create value. The value of IoT goes far beyond data gathering and real-time monitoring. Companies will increasingly see the need to upload massive amounts of data to the cloud, to support flexible resource scheduling and visualized operations. They will also look to process their data using machine learning and cognitive analytics in order to develop the new services that will bring them success. Looking forward, IoT platforms that are open, deployed on the cloud, and with big data analytics capabilities will be the ones to watch.

Step 3: Explore new value for new business models. Riding the wave of digitalization, there is a gradual shift by industries from focusing on their own verticals to open collaboration with each other, forging closer ties across verticals. We will see traditional industry blend with digital, one sector link to another, and downstream loop back into upstream. Companies will jointly explore and incubate new business models and commercial applications. In this process, it will be important for companies to bring an open and long-term perspective to their selection of IoT partners. They will need stable, win-win relationships to secure success in IoT.

Developing the IoT industry

As a global leader in information and communications technology, with three decades of experience, Huawei has the capability to deliver full-stack IoT solutions, from chipsets to operating systems, from IoT connections and platform to cloud computing and big data analytics, and even ecosystem development. Huawei is well positioned to provide industry customers and partners with seamless, full-stack services and experiences.

Huawei is also committed to respecting the boundaries and specialisms of its customers. There are five areas that are solely the domain of Huawei’s customers and partners: customer data; industry-specific IoT applications; IoT device development; IoT device resale; and end-to-end integration services for enterprise customers.

 IoT chipsets

With its strong expertise in telecommunication, Huawei has developed a high-performance IoT chipset called Boudica. Boudica features high integration and low power consumption, and is perfectly designed to support large-scale NB-IoT deployments.

 IoT operating system

IoT operating system: To help promote the development of smart devices, Huawei offers a lightweight, open source IoT operating system – Huawei LiteOS.

 Diversified and secure connections

Huawei enables wired connections (agile IoT gateways, home IoT gateways, and edge computing IoT) and wireless connections (NB-IoT, 5G, eLTE, etc.) in order to serve different scenarios. It also provides end-to-end security solutions.

 Cloud-based IoT platform

Huawei has built an open, cloud-based IoT platform – Huawei OceanConnect IoT Platform – which supports cloud deployment and all types of connections, ensuring greater reliability and efficiency. The platform also comes with big data analytics tools to help customers to generate extra value from their data.

 Standardization and ecosystem collaboration:

  • Huawei has developed a network of more than 700 IoT partners in a wide range of industries, including smart home, smart manufacturing, smart energy, and Internet of Vehicles, etc. Huawei hopes to share its rich industry experience with its IoT ecosystem partners, so that all parties can grow and succeed together.

  • As of the end of 2016, Huawei belongs to over 300 standards organizations, industry alliances, and open source communities, including NB-IoT Forum3, the Alliance for the Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI)4, and Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)5. Huawei's objective is to help accelerate industry standardizations, and lower barriers to IoT commercialization.

 

  • For solution partners and developers, Huawei launched the "IoT Solution Partner Program". This program offers support for the design, development, integration, certification, and marketing of IoT solutions. Huawei will provide US$1 billion to support developers in its developer community. In addition, Huawei has established 12 Open Labs worldwide to provide IoT partners with open lab services, including joint innovation, validation services, and joint marketing.

Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to increase its investment in IoT. Alongside its partners, Huawei aims to help the IoT industry flourish.


1. The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype, McKinsey Global Institute

2. Huawei Global Industry Vision

3. NB-IoT Forum was jointly established by 14 world's leading enterprises and institutions, including GSMA, Huawei, Etisalat, China Mobile, China Unicom, Qualcomm, Vodafone, GTI, Intel, LGUplus, NOKIA, Ericsson, Telecom and Italia Telefonica.

4. The Alliance for the Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was initiated by the European Commission in 2015, with the aim of strengthening the dialogue and interaction among IoT stakeholders in Europe. It currently has more than 170 members.

5. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is a leading global industry organization which promotes the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and aims to define and develop the reference architecture and frameworks, share and exchange real-world ideas.