How oneM2M Unlocks the Potential of IoT to Enable Digital Transformation
The topic of digital transformation has risen the agenda for many organizations over the past few years. The sudden shock of Covid-19 has accelerated its importance. Many person-to-person activities have migrated online. Consumers are ordering food supplies and banking remotely. Academia, businesses, and governments are transitioning their operational activities into online formats. Moreover, their workforces are becoming distributed.
This was already the case for their capital resources. Examples include environmental sensors, road-transport sensors, vehicle fleets, and vending machines. Forced with the need to speed up change, many organizations can learn from the IoT market. Some of the key lessons relate to data management, cross-silo interoperability, and standardization.
IoT Key Enablers
IoT technologies contribute significant volumes of data and complement the personal data that many organizations use to optimize their business operations. Machine-type devices significantly outnumber personal connected devices. Many include actuation capabilities to enable remote control. This creates many new opportunities to implement closed-loop solutions. By automating and speeding up decision-making cycles, organizations can quickly evaluate and make investment decisions on IoT deployments and digital transformation initiatives.
A second critical capability in enabling digital transformation is the management and sharing of data across operational boundaries. An example is the process of scheduling nursing visits to home-bound patients. Adjustments are often required in practice due to last-minute changes in staffing availability, disruptions to travel plans, and requirements to control time on-duty for individual members of staff. One way to create a more patient-friendly and responsive scheduling process is to overlay the home-nursing roster with real-time traffic and local weather data to manage welfare visits to home-bound patients. This relies on cooperation across local government departments and private sector partners that may supply traffic data or manage on-demand taxi services.
The third key enabler is IoT standardization through a framework for deploying and connecting huge numbers of IoT devices and applications. Many IoT standards exist to address specific technology challenges at different layers of the IoT stack. These range from connectivity technologies (e.g. 3GPP, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.) to transport protocols (e.g. CoAP, HTTPS, MQTT, etc.) and service capabilities (e.g. OCF, LWM2M, etc.). However, oneM2M is different. It is a middleware standard for interoperable and scalable IoT solutions that reuses existing and established industry standards. oneM2M defines a horizontal, middle-ware layer between a lower tier of devices and communications technologies and an upper tier of IoT applications. Its API abstraction capabilities assist the developer community by masking the complexities and permutations of different IoT technologies. oneM2M standardization allows IoT service providers to deploy devices and sensors from multiple suppliers, avoiding the risk of locking into a single vendor or a proprietary system.
In France, the city of Bordeaux's smart city platform illustrates how these features enable digital transformation. The city’s oneM2M IoT platform is a single system for data collection and remote management of waste bins, streetlights, and other forms of smart city assets. This improves the way that the municipality manages its remote assets and workforce resources. There is an added benefit in managing procurement and technology risks. The city can source smart waste bins in multiple procurement cycles from different vendors and stage its deployment. This works because different waste bins adhere to the oneM2M standard for communication with the city’s platform. In another example, South Korea's second-largest city, Busan, uses an oneM2M platform to deliver over 25 smart city services.
IoT Interoperability Drives Digital Innovation
The recent availability of IoT data from many different sources is driving innovation in areas where organizations see benefits in collaboration. A novel illustration of this is in smart city and intelligent transport situations. One of oneM2M’s founding partners, ATIS launched an initiative with US Ignite, a manager of public-private partnerships, to work with North American municipalities on the concept of a smart city data exchange. This initiative aims to facilitate data sharing from IoT devices and other sources.
In the UK and South Korea, local organizations are pioneering innovative ideas around the concept of a data marketplace. One example concerns a two-year trial with four English counties and several private sector partners. This group used a common IoT platform to manage about 300 types of city and transport network data. Through the oneTRANSPORT data marketplace, each entity could control how data was shared with third-party application developers and analytics specialists. One city improved safety on its ring road by monitoring and adjusting control traffic signals at a critical junction. It also used roadside display units to guide city center visitors to the car parks with available capacity. A different city used IoT data to encourage visitors to use its park-and-ride system.
Another UK agency, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), provides other examples of the innovative potential from data sharing. TfWM uses an oneM2M platform to share city data across a footprint of eight local municipalities and a group of private-sector partners. Controlled data sharing enables application and business-model innovation related to on-demand mobility services and the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
Collaboration is Key for Success
An important factor in driving the adoption of open-standard solutions is a collaboration between organizations and industry bodies. One example of such an initiative is the liaison between the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and oneM2M. The two organizations recently issued a joint White Paper on “Advancing the Industrial Internet of Things”. It highlights that IIC and oneM2M are advancing digital transformation in the industrial IoT (IIoT) sector through closely aligned frameworks and future standardization goals.
A separate IIC publication entitled “Best Practices for Developing and Deploying IIoT solutions” provides practical evidence of standardization for interoperability. In this publication, two member companies describe the process of linking their respective IoT platforms to create an open-standard, interoperable IoT-platforms (OSP) testbed. This testbed served to validate several device and application interoperability test cases. One test case demonstrated how an IoT application connected to one platform could successfully access data from a sensor connected to the second platform.
As the market for IoT solutions and technologies continues to evolve, new requirements and new candidates for standardization will emerge. Since its launch in 2012 and the first release of its standards in 2015, oneM2M and its members have continued to evolve the standard which will shortly culminate in the publication of Release 4. This covers topics such as Fog/Edge computing, 3GPP interworking, and semantic reasoning for IoT solutions. The continued evolution of oneM2M standards brings together the collaborative efforts of more than 200 members, all of whom are committed to creating a global IoT standard.
Ken Figueredo has a background spanning business, management and technology consultancy. He currently focuses on the Industrial Internet, intelligent transport systems, and the smart city sector. Figueredo is an expert in the field of IoT innovation and the formation of partner ecosystems to deliver interoperable IoT applications. Figueredo actively contributes to leading-edge, IoT industry bodies including the oneM2M Global Standards initiative and the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC).
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