As the world becomes increasingly digital and connected, developing nations and emerging economies are believed to be the potential major drivers of IoE or IoT (Internet of Thing) in the coming 10 years. This is due to fact that most developing and emerging nations would be building new information technology infrastructure as part of the United Nation’s stated sustainability goals. This article explains and highlights the importance of IoE and how it can potentially transform the developmental agenda in a developing nation like Namibia.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) can be best defined as an intelligent connection of people, technology, process, data and devices. IoE is an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT), which emphasizes more on the interconnection between things, mostly devices and machines and does not include people. By including people IoE, present unique opportunities for organizations, individuals, communities, and nations to realize intensely greater value from networked connections among people, process, data, and things.
IoE is derived from the concept that the future of Internet connections will not be confined to laptop or desktop computers and a handful of tablets/smartphones, as is today. As more people gain access to data, and communication networks expands; billion of new smarter devices will emerge. Today’s example of IoE applications range from digital sensor tools/interfaces used for remote appliances to smarter and more well-connected mobile devices, industrial machine learning systems and other types of distributed hardware that have recently become more intelligent and automated.
Although many of these examples of IoE are found in developed and advanced nations, IoE can play critical role in improving the living conditions of people in developing nations in Africa, where applications can be developed to monitor children’s vaccine schedules, thus allowing parents to properly plan on when to visit hospitals or clinics. Another practical application where IoE will make a difference in Namibia for instance is applications that convert indigenous languages’ text to speech, allowing the illiterate communities to understand important text messages from authorities, doctors, friends and family members.
More importantly, IoE has the potential to have a greater impact, with the rise of innovative solutions such as mobile powered irrigation grid systems for farmers, applications that enable authorities to monitor water-levels, chips to monitor children’ nutritious intake every day and even applications allowing consumers to monitor their water consumptions.
Despite the opportunities presented by IoE that can bring about positive societal change, IoE is not without challenges especially in developing countries. In many developing nations, IoE faces many challenges ranging from low technology adoption and little investment in research and development (R&D). The adoption of IoE in developing nations also faces technical challenges such as Internet connectivity, continued power supply, robust backup, scalable and reliable infrastructure. Moreover, in order for IoE to work for developing countries especially here in Africa, they need to be robust in order to survive the harsh conditions, as well as they need to be able to support solar energy to ensure continued power supply.
Although price for sensors, circuit boards have been falling, making IoE components and IoT devices cheaper. The costs of IoT devices are still high and unaffordable for many in developing countries when one accounts for the cost of acquisition plus cost of shipping as many of these devices are still manufactured in developed countries
Another important issue facing IoE is security; security in the IoE environments is still its infant stages. However, research has been done to analyse the state of IoE security and present potential solutions to safe guard data and information. Security is very important for the successful deployment of the Internet of Everything.
Many of these challenges can be addressed by local IoE experts and by training more local IoE experts. Additionally, the use of open source (free) software and hardware components and strong collaboration between developed and developing countries can drastically reduce the cost of implementing IoE. Therefore, make IoE cheaper, affordable and also help realise the promise IoE for development.
Technologies plus solutions to many of these challenges facing IoE are already existence, therefore developing nations shouldn’t reinvent the wheel but adopt them for the successful adoption IoE.
The potential applications for IoE in developing countries are endless. Internet of Everything has the potential to improve societal processes, drive economic and inclusive growth.
*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc.Computer Science