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The Australian government is pumping up to A$10m to help companies monitor and manage their operations through an internet of things (IoT) network focused on cutting energy use.
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Made through the A$200m Clean Energy Innovation Fund, the investment will go to the Sigfox-based low-powered wide area network (LPWAN) operated by Australian IoT network operator Thinxtra.
In a statement, Australia’s ministry of the environment and energy said LPWAN technology is cheaper, produces fewer emissions and provides longer battery life for devices which only need to transmit small amounts of data and require intermittent internet connectivity.
The technology will also provide businesses with a low-cost solution to track and monitor equipment such as large volumes of pallets, waste containers, gas canisters, farm gates and livestock.
Thinxtra, which counts more than 150 Australian businesses as customers, is aiming to connect up 17 million objects by 2022 and is on track to provide a network that covers 95% of Australia’s population by the end of 2017.
Besides Australia, Thinxtra, which competes with telcos that favour the competing narrowband IoT technology, has also made inroads into Hong Kong, where its IoT network will be the first of its kind in the territory.
“Our low cost, low power, long range IoT network is perfect for deploying simple solutions to make cities smarter, buildings more energy efficient, industry more productive, reduce congestion and improve health outcomes for Hong Kong,” said Murray Hankinson, Thinxtra’s managing director for Asia.
“Industry, government and community working with us are seeing improved efficiency, gaining deep insights and better service outcomes for their customers. Their supply chain, risk and governance issues they are challenged by are being solved. Sustainable smart cities are crucial to business and the community in Hong Kong,” he added.
Asia-Pacific (APAC) is fast-becoming a hotbed of IoT developments. Out of 29.5 billion IoT devices expected to be connected globally by 2020, 8.6 billion will be in the region, excluding Japan. According to IDC, this represents a market opportunity of US$565.5bn, up from US$335.6bn in 2016.
Read more about IoT in Australia
- The IoT may have benefited industries such as oil and gas, but issues such as connectivity are holding back adoption in Australia.
- An Australian upstart is using smart meters and cloud-based microservices to shake up the energy sector.
- Australia has embraced the British developed Hypercat framework, initially for IoT deployments in smart cities, in part to address perceived security issues.
- The Australian Communications Alliance is working to establish a regulatory framework for the IoT.
However, not all countries are created equal. A recent IDC study revealed that South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand are the most capable and ready to benefit from IoT.
Hugh Ujhazy, IDC’s APAC associate vice president for IoT research, said these countries are “more likely to have adaptability for efficiencies that IoT solutions can create, be more conducive for business and product innovation, and more likely to have access to the technologies that align with IoT use cases”.
Despite the promises of IoT, security concerns continue to stand in the way of maximising IoT’s potential, with almost half of respondents in a global Vanson Bourne survey noting that their organisations will have to rethink their approach to data security.
The lack of skills is another bugbear, with 45% of 500 respondents citing the lack of skills as a challenge for their organisations in deploying IoT. Additionally, 29% agree that connectivity issues will derail their IoT deployments.