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Being Interconnected in a Smart Nation

BACK THEN, IN THE DINOSAUR AGE
 

Increasingly, we are being caught up in situations where daily objects which were previously “dumb” and manufactured for a singular purpose have now been issued powers beyond belief. Twenty years ago, could we ever have imagined that our phones could become our walking encyclopaedia (through access to the Internet), our alarm clock, our telephone directory of contacts, our messaging centre (through Whatsapp, WeChat and similar chat platforms), function as a powerful camera, be a pedometer, and literally loads of other applications? This is the most common example but probably the most universally-used. Woe betide those who lose their smartphones, for it equates to the loss of much valued data and one’s connectivity to the world.

GETTING A GRIP ON IOT


Welcome now to the fundamentals that lie behind Singapore’s vision of becoming a Smart Nation – the formidable Internet of Things (IoT). Fortune magazine describes IoT as adding Internet connectivity to formerly “dumb” or unconnected devices like lampposts and traffic lights, enabling them to communicate with users and other devices. Elaborating on IoT, a McKinsey report says that “The Internet of Things refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about the objects.” McKinsey cites examples in the consumer market which include smart watches, fitness bands, and home security systems. As for the B2B market, it cites sensor embedded production equipment, and shipping and storage containers. These devices are networked through computer systems and can generate an enormity of data.

 

Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) adds that IoT refers to “everyday objects that can be read, recognised, located, given an address and controlled via the Internet.” Of course these can include everything from electronic devices and vehicles to food packaging and clothing.

 

THE WIDESPREAD IMPACT

 

Starting from home invasion to the office environment and the manufacturing sector and to the public domain of logistics and healthcare, there are endless ramifications as to how IoT would shape our world. Most importantly, it means that by connecting all these devices and having sensors that gather a massive amount of data, the data mining processes that ensue can bring about meaningful insights to improve lives. Everything can then be registered, tracked or monitored accordingly.

 

A simple surfing exercise through the Internet uncovered some mind boggling statistics, put together by RS Components of the United Kingdom. To understand the magnitude of the impact, we turn back the clock to the year 1990. In 1990, there were 300,000 desktop computers connected to the Internet. Ten years later, in 2000, there were 300 million desktop computers connected to the Internet. More astronomical figures follow.

With mobile phones becoming every man’s coveted device, there are now, in 2016, 2 billion mobile phones connected to the Internet. And by virtue of extrapolation, by 2020 this would take place:

 

  • 1.3 billion kettles, refrigerators, freezers, TVs, thermostats, security cameras, lights, smoke detectors and other THINGS IN YOUR HOME connected to the Internet;
     

  • 3.5 billion navigation systems, in-car entertainment systems and other THINGS IN YOUR CAR connected to the Internet;
     

  • 411 million wrist bands, shoes, glasses, watches, sports socks, clothing and other WEARABLE THINGS connected to the Internet;
     

  • 646 million heart rate monitors, body implants, pill bottles, blood pressure monitors, skin patches and other THINGS IN THE HOSPITAL connected to the Internet; and
     

  • 9.7 billion buildings, street lights, traffic lights, water pipes, parking meters, pollution monitors and other THINGS IN YOUR CITY connected to the Internet.
     

This spells out the future of how the IoT is going to change things around.

 

RISK FACTORS

 

The more interconnected we are, the more vulnerable we shall be to the infiltration of malware or other vicious hackers which threaten our systems and even our lives. Watching episodes of CSI: Cyber is not all fiction when you see people wreaking havoc on hospital devices. It can happen in the real world. More and more data is being plugged into our computers, smartphones, networks and systems; therefore we need to exercise much greater vigilance in guarding against malicious attacks.

 

Cyber security is crucial in this day and age. When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the Smart Nation back in November 24 2014, he stressed the urgency of fortifying our cyber security to protect against cyberattacks not only in government systems but in other critical systems including telecoms, banking and energy. With a multiple of devices connected now, as IoT continues to take off in a big way, more areas need extra surveillance. Perhaps a very huge business opportunity lies in how to evolve security measures that would preserve data integrity in the best possible way and not be an encumbrance to users.

 

PLUGGING INTO IOT AND E-COMMERCE STRATEGIES IN TAIPEI
 

The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), or simply put, the networked connection of physical objects, has led to many breakthroughs in the retail and F&B industries. With the objective of encouraging member companies to explore how IoT, e-commerce and Smart Retail has transformed Taiwan’s retail and F&B industries, and thereafter look into ways to implement sustainable IoT and e-commerce strategies for their respective businesses, the Chamber organised a 5-day IoT Smart Retail and eCommerce Study Trip to Taipei on July 3-8. The 19 participants of this mid-year study trip came from F&B, retail, healthcare, furniture, printing, education, property management and IT-related industries.

Day 1 of the well-planned programme saw participants visit the Institute for Information Industry (III), the second largest NGO for ICT development in Taiwan; Vismile, a highly innovative firm offering futuristic services, and developer of the world’s first 3D virtual fitting room; and Advantech, one of the world’s largest industrial PC manufacturers and a leading brand in Intelligent Systems in Taiwan.
 

On the second day, visits were arranged to Innovative DigiTech-Enabled Applications & Services Institute (IDEAS), which applies a systematic approach to innovation called Service Experience Engineering (SEE); GR C Cloud, offering an online marketplace and cloud service delivery platform for SAAS and connected products; and Aopen, a major provider of commercial products
and applied business solutions of IoT and cloud.


On Day 3, participants were brought to Benq Guru, which provides a Smart Store total solution that combines digital signage solution with cloud management software and integrates the latest O2O application for retail customers; La Fresh demo site at Le BledOR beer restaurant to see how
POS can be configured for specific business needs; and Taiwan Internet & E-Commerce Association (TiEA), the only association in Taiwan that comprises most private sector players in Taiwan’s Internet and e-commerce industries. The visit to TiEA also incorporated a Taiwan-Singapore E-commerce Seminar.


On Day 4, the final day of the programme proper, the Chamber jointly organised a Taiwan-Singapore Smart Retail IoT Seminar and Lunch with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the foremost nonprofit trade promotion organisation in Taiwan. After the seminar and lunch, two other visits were arranged: Protech, which focuses on industrial PC development, and which has developed a new hardware and software application focused on self-order and self-check system for the retail sector; and Noodoe, a Smart restaurant experience workshop.

Article by: 华商 Chinese Enterprise

 

Sources:
Transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at Smart Nation launch on November 24 2014

“How the Internet of Things will Change your life “ – RS Components Ltd


“Say Hello to the Internet of Things” – Committee on the Future Economy, Challenges, April 7 2016


“Preparing IT Systems and organisations for the Internet of Things” by Johannes Deichmann, Matthias Roggendorf, and Dominik Wee, McKinsey & Company, November 2015