IoT through collaboration can reduce operational costs and improve efficiency

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not just a technology but also new commercial ecosystem. Before it is applied to a vertical industry, the product and service should be integrated through collaboration between various key stakeholders.  It increasingly offers new opportunities for communication and to improve business efficiency. These opportunities are being explored around the world there is great scope for IoT in Africa.

Creating an IoT ecosystem

Huawei has introduced its ‘GLocal’ ecosystem philosophy in Africa in order to build a customized IoT solution and enable operators to provide IoT-as-a-service to verticals in the region. 

“GLocal refers to leveraging global experience and engagement with leading international vendors and partnering with local players to cultivate a local ecosystem”.  For a GLocal ecosystem to work, operators and partners from different industries and areas need to work together to establish channels for communication between operators and vertical industries.

Another great ecosystem that supports IoT connection management is OceanConnect,  an open ecosystem built on IoT, cloud computing, and Big Data technologies. OceanConnect provides over 170 open APIs and serial Agent software to promote app release, simplify device access, and guarantee network connection. There are currently more than a 100 global partners in the Huawei OceanConnect ecosystem.

Local ecosystem integration laboratory

Huawei already fulfilled innovation responsibility through laboratory for industry partners. There are two laboratories have been set up in Lagos and Johannesburg. Some of partners have passed the test, like Haixing company.

A business plan is equally important

The success of IoT is not only dependent on technology, but also on a strong business case. IoT has the potential to improve business revenue, reduce expenses and risk, drive efficiency and customer experience, however, a strategic business plan is essential to drive its success. 

The successful launch of the world’s first smart water system utilizing NB-IoT technology by the Shenzhen Water Group (SZWG) which took place on World Water Day, in March 2017 is testament to this. 

SZWG is the largest water company in Shenzhen, producing 97% of the city’s water.  In order to comply with Shenzhen Government legislation, the company needed to amend its metering system in order to meter the water usage to each home directly, instead of measuring the consumption of the estate management company every month. Ordinarily this would have required 300 more employees, and increase operational expenses by approximately US$2.2 million per year. 

A second challenge faced was the loss of revenue due to water leakages and damaged pipes.    SZWG plans to reduce non-revenue water ratio to 10% through real-time metering and pipe monitoring. 

SWGZ was able to a both reduce operational costs and revenue loss from leakages by installing smart meters.  Meter reading accuracy has improved and pipes can now be monitored to locate the leakages or abnormalities such as the tiny continuous drip all the way to an unusually high flow through real-time metering. In this way, the non-revenue water ratio can be reduced.

The project would not have been successful without the collaboration of key industry partners. Huawei partnered with China Telecom to provide an end-to-end IoT solution including NB IoT network connection, IoT cloud platform, smart meters, and the water management system.

This partnership also allowed SWGZ to benefit from better device management and a communication trouble shooting service, ensuring a high a metering success rate, and low power consumption guaranteeing longer battery life, which will largely reduce network maintenance cost and enhance operations efficiency.