Unlocking the promise of IoT with standards (Reader Forum)
Today, users are discovering new ways to manage virtually every facet of their lives from their mobile devices, meaning the number of connected devices is set to grow over the coming years.
In fact, the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) predicts that, by 2025, 72% of internet users will access the web solely via smartphones. Presenting a golden opportunity, operators worldwide are considering new cellular capabilities for their IoT offerings, so the need to find a standardised way to reap the benefits of IoT data has never been greater.
The Global Certification Forum (GCF) promotes mobile and IoT certification programmes based on standards of interoperability. Its latest research into mobile device trends reveals a significant increase in the number of devices that incorporate a cellular IoT standard since 2019.
Two technologies, NB-IoT and LTE CAT M1 (FDD), dominated the population of devices achieving certification. With 5G happening now and the prolific growth of IoT connectivity, the standardisation of IoT technologies and collaboration of bodies will prove to be paramount to the success and continued growth of the industry.
As we enter a new digitalized era, a wide range of organisations, from established players to start-ups are launching IoT solutions and services. The tools of their trade include many different connectivity technologies, more complex devices and, a variety of data transmission protocols.
However, the challenge of dealing with a multitude of IoT device types, technologies and vendors adds complexity to their applications. This translates into a cost burden on IoT application developers and their customers.
A significant improvement to the economics of the IoT market requires a global standard that allows IoT application developers and solution providers to mix and match different connectivity technologies, transport protocols, security models and semantic ontologies.
This approach addresses two interoperability issues. One involves a technical framework that makes it easy to combine different technologies with the option to incorporate new developments, such as AR/VR and AI, that will be linked to future IoT solutions.
The second relates to interoperability between organisations. This can involve interchanging devices and sensors supplied by different vendors whose products conform to an open standard.
Interoperability also applies to linking two or more IoT solutions so that they can work across departmental and organisational silos.
Security and privacy in the IoT arena are gaining in importance and following hard on the heels of concerns about personal data. As organisations begin to cooperate in sharing data from IoT devices and applications there will be a greater need to standardize how policies are managed and maintained to ensure industry confidence.
IoT devices are continuing to become more complex, especially with the addition of 5G to the mix. The growth in mobile communication standards calls for a clear testing method to ensure compatibility and usability across all regions.
Certification is one to the critical steps to ensuring correct implementation of standards so that IoT devices will work for many years, allowing network operators to roll out upgrades in the future.
An important complement to standards is the confidence that comes from certification. Building on pioneering work, oneM2M and GCF have agreed to collaborate in rolling out a certification program for IoT devices, gateways, and platforms.
The oneM2M certification scheme is critical for sustained growth of the IoT market. GCF certification provides operators and manufacturers with the guarantee that core functionalities in devices will fulfil all requirements and perform correctly on networks, delivering a seamless roaming service for cellular devices.
Ideally, IoT complexity needs to be hidden from developers and end-users through an interface that abstracts low-level complexity into a higher-level set of design tools and controls. The oneM2M standard provides a framework for IoT deployments that does just that, a horizontal architecture which consists of an abstraction layer to allow every component in the deployment to communicate.
Working collaboratively, we can begin to unlock the true promise of IoT and deliver technical specifications which meet the need for a common M2M Service Layer.
Unlocking the market
As a mature and commercially deployed standard, the geographic reach of oneM2M continues to spread. oneM2M is also being considered as the national IoT standard for India as part of its smart cities vision – highlighting that now, more than ever, standards are critical to capturing scale and interoperability benefits in successful IoT deployments.
Alongside these developments, oneM2M has concluded a liaison agreement with the IoT Connectivity Alliance (ICA). This linkup amounts to a sizeable community of IoT developers and users across China and includes major actors such as Alibaba.
The emergence of the IoT has opened the door to a new era of innovation and commercial opportunities. However, the full potential of this market will only be achieved if reliable, secure and mature standards are in place and collaboration must continue to be the priority, working alongside stakeholders and industry associations in key sectors.
Ken Figueredo advises on market development and innovation for Chordant and its oneM2M-based data marketplace solution. His background spans business, management and technology consultancy. He currently focuses on the industrial internet, intelligent transport systems and the smart city sector.