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Internet of things: Technology, Use cases and the challenges

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the technology connecting all the devices through the internet. These devices may be in various verticals such as Automotive, City Surveillance, Power (Smart Metering, Smart Grid), Healthcare (Remote Health Management), POS (Point-of-Sales), Industry 4.0, Smart Homes, Agriculture, Waste Management, and Water Management. IoT can make these verticals smart as the data will be available in real time. Most of these verticals will be part of Smart Cities.

IoT. IoT is a bunch of technologies namely Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Big Data, Cloud Computing. Devices may be connected on various communication technologies directly to the head end system or through the gateway. Communication technologies may be NFC, BLE (very small distance), Low power wireless in the local area network (LAN)/home area network (HAN), Cellular/Fixed line broadband in wide area network (WAN).

A huge amount of data will be generated by the connected devices and will be sent to cloud through various communication technologies. Raw data is of no meaning, therefore, big data analytics may be used to create intelligence. Intelligence may be used for various planning and operational activities. Data processing and management capabilities may be enhanced by using AI/ML. Sending data to a remotely located cloud will require high bandwidth as well as the low latency communication network. Actions upon the targeted IoT devices will depend upon the analysis result. To avoid the delay and to ensure that the targeted IoT device reacts in time, Edge computing at the gateway/Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) at the edge of mobile network will be able to complement the remote data center. Such type of features will be required at least in critical applications such as various Vehicular applications such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, Smart Homes, and Smart Grid.

The platform will play an important role as the devices of a number of verticals will be connected on various communication technologies. Platforms should have the feature for data sharing across the verticals.

IoT use cases. IoT use cases may be in a large number of verticals. Some IoT use case applications are given below:

IoT in healthcare. Some typical applications of M2M/IoT in Health care are as given below:

Remote monitoring of patients after surgery, while resting at home;
Transmission of vital parameters of a patient from the ambulance to hospital;
Remote monitoring of old aged patients;
Remote consultation;
e-ICU; and
Rural health provisioning.

Using M2M communication along with ICT, various vital parameters of patients like temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, heart conditions or patient location can be sent from remote locations to the headend server/cloud for further analysis. This may be required for preventive healthcare, post-surgery conditions, e-ICU and old age people.

Most of the healthcare devices are having low power wireless communication technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy. These devices may transmit the vital parameters using smartphones/tablets as a data aggregator/gateway (most of the smartphones/tablets are having BLE, NFC, wi-fi protocols), which may be further transmitted on cellular/fixed line broadband, to the cloud or to the concerned doctor.

Interoperability architecture using Personal Health Devices & IEEE 11073 protocols has been approved by International Telecom Union (ITU) and may be referred in the technical papers available on web link and

As there is a shortage of doctors and the hospitals in the rural areas, therefore healthcare devices may be used to monitor the health parameters remotely by the doctors sitting in metros/big cities. Devices may be operated by Aasha workers and the vital parameters may be transmitted through tablet/laptop. Highspeed internet facility of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) being provisioned in each gram panchayat may be used for transmitting the data from the tablet/laptop to the cloud. Doctors may review the parameters and advise, which may be sent on the mobile phone of the concerned person as well as on the portal and act as per the advice of the doctor. It may help in improving the health as most of the problems such as blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition etc. are related to the lifestyle and may be improved. People should go to the hospital only in emergency such as for surgery or for the treatment of life-threatening disease.

IoT applications in automotive sector/Intelligent Transport System. Various applications in this vertical may be vehicle tracking, e-call (911 in USA, 112 in Europe), For emergency call 112 adopted in India, V2V and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) applications, traffic control, navigation, infotainment, fleet management, asset tracking, manufacturing and logistics.

In a connected vehicles scenario, data from the vehicle may be used by various concerned stakeholders. For example:

Vehicle location tracking may be required by the owner/user of the vehicle and in case of emergency situation, the location may be required by the Law Enforcement Agencies i.e. Government;
Sensor data is required to monitor the various parts of the vehicle from the designing/proper running point of view. Manufacturer/designer of the vehicle may need this data;
Applications to monitor driving patterns: This data may be required by the owner, manufacturer and the insurance companies;
Pay-as-you-drive insurance: Driving pattern will play a significant role in the insurance premium in the future.; and
Real-time localized navigation updates.

Big data analytics may be used to create intelligence for operational/planning activities. For example, intelligence related to vehicles exceeding a certain limit, Law enforcement agencies may have a watch and correlate with the feed from the surveillance cameras. Moreover, such type of intelligence may be used by the development agencies for the planning of new route/new mode of transport.

IoT applications in safety & surveillance. Commercial and home security monitoring, surveillance applications, video analytics and sending alerts, fire alarm, police/medical alert.

In city surveillance network, cameras should have features like artificial intelligence and facial recognition. The network should be able to locate the person after loading the photograph on the server.

Surveillance network should also be able to trace the car running after hitting some person on the road/involved in some crime. Therefore, the cameras and the switches/platform should be intelligent enough to take the decisions. For this, the AI/edge computing type features are required in the camera and also in the edge routers.

IoT may help a lot in improving the law and order situation by using the data/intelligence mainly from surveillance and automotive verticals. Therefore, data sharing across these verticals is essential. Data sharing between the platforms of adjacent cities is also required to catch the criminals running from one city to another city.

Challenges. IoT networks can enhance the quality of life, therefore these are being deployed in a big way across the globe. For fast IoT development, it is necessary to address the points like standardization, interoperability, slow deployment of IPv6, a long battery life of the devices, open standards and platforms, privacy, security etc. Security is a big issue as the network may be hacked if any part of the IoT network (devices to the application) is weak. Security is generally considered to be the last item while designing and manufacturing the devices. Due to this, IoT will create new forms of crimes at home, offices and in public. Theft, ransom and fraud are being committed via digital means, and in future, it may include even more serious incidents like turning off healthcare devices or public disorder.

Network hacking may create an even bigger impact than a war; and
May hack any critical network such as health network or pacemaker of any VVIP.

As billions of devices will be connected, if not secured, may create a havoc.

End-to-end security in IoT domain is very important otherwise the devices may get hacked. Security is required to be built in all the segments of IoT ecosystem i.e. from device to application.

A proper testing mechanism is required to ensure the security features available in the devices, to have a secured smart infrastructure.

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