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Australia prepares for IoT explosion

Australia is preparing for the rapid adoption of the internet of things with a regulatory framework

With Gartner predicting that 5.5 million new devices will come online every day in 2016, the Australian Communications Alliance is working to establish a regulatory framework for the internet of things (IoT).

The alliance formed an IoT think tank in May 2015 and recently released its report Enabling the internet of things for Australia, which said the country is lagging international peers in terms of the focus being placed on IoT, both at an industry and government level.

There is a great deal at stake. Basing its calculations on a global study by the McKinsey Global Institute, the report noted that IoT deployments could positively affect the Australian economy to the tune of A$116bn by 2025. However, that will require concerted and focused deployment of IoT systems to enhance data collection, insight and generate productivity improvements.

While the majority of the report’s 12 recommendations were fairly broad, related to boosting awareness of and education about IoT capabilities, along with privacy settings and the like, there are a couple of specific recommendations. These included a call for the government to review the current spectrum settings and licensing provisions to ensure IoT deployments are adequately serviced, and that IPv6 standards become the default for all platforms, including government and internet service providers, to ensure a smooth roll-out of IoT.

It also recommended six streams of work that would support the development of an IoT industry and encourage deployments.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said three of the six workstreams would be up and running by Christmas 2015.

Acting on big data

There are already a number of significant Australian IoT deployments, said Stanton, with the minerals sector, agriculture and transport and logistics leading the field, and telecommunications lagging. “These are areas where Australia could potentially make up lost ground and impact profitability of the verticals.”

Profitability is clearly a focus for Westfield and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), with the shopping centre owner deploying beacon technology in its malls in 2015 that can be harnessed to identify CBA app users and send special offers to their smartphones as they roam the mall.

In the transport sector, Communications Design & Management (CDM) has installed its Nomad field gateway, which collects data from sensors deployed in several thousand vehicles to direct operations and schedule maintenance for the vehicle owners.

Collecting data is one thing, making use of it another, according to Gartner senior vice-president Peter Sondergaard, who warned delegates at Gartner’s recent symposium on the Gold Coast that without effective algorithms to harness the data there would be little value derived from the IoT.

“Algorithms are where the real value lies. Algorithms define action. The algorithmic economy will power the next great leap in machine-to-machine evolution in the internet of things. Products and services will be defined by the sophistication of their algorithms and services. Organisations will be valued, not just on their big data, but the algorithms that turn the data into actions and ultimately impact customers,” said Sondergaard.

At a more personal level, IoT deployments in the home have the capacity to deliver benefits, particularly in the area of security and energy management. Australia’s home IoT market is still in its infancy, though analyst Frost & Sullivan is optimistic that by 2020 it could be worth A$200m, particularly if telecommunications companies such as Telstra, Optus, iiNet and Vodafone start to roll out home IoT systems for consumers.

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