The Challenges and Innovations of the Internet of Things in Nigeria
The soundwave of Internet of Things (otherwise referred to as IoT) is gradually being felt in the Nigerian technological ecosystem. As novel as this may sound, it is gaining grounds because it is being integrated into things we use every day.
So those among many other things are the innovations ushered by the Internet of Things. Thus, in this piece, we shall have a thorough dissection of IoT; what it is, how it works, its innovations, and importantly- how practical it is within the Nigerian ecosystem.
The phrase “Internet of Things” was coined in the year 1999 by a member of Radio Frequency Identification (RDID) and has been used ever since then. So what is Internet of Things? IoT is an advancement of machine to machine technology which seeks to network physical objects, so they can recognize as well as obtain intelligence from one another. The ‘physical objects’ here span beyond technological things like car, bulb, home appliances, to even trees, water, clothing, animals et cetera.
The aim of IoT is to make things stay connected always without impediments of time and place for maximal productivity and best user experience.
Sensors: Devices are integrated with sensors. Sensors facilitate interconnection between the technological world and this physical world; this makes it possible for information or data in the environment to be ‘picked’, understood and rightly processed by the objects.
There are various type of sensors, and they are grouped according to what they generically do; environmental sensors, vehicle telematic sensors, home appliances sensors, body sensors and so on. Sensors are built in such a way that they can recognize pH, speed, movement, electricity, intrusion, relative temperature, flow and so on. What an average sensor does is to harness raw external data, and then translate that into a machine language.
Network and Gateways: As these sensors extract external data, a speedy and efficient mode of communication is required to properly convey information to the objects or machine and this is where Networks and Gateways come to fore. They are needed for latency and to secure bandwidth (Bandwidth is the rate of data flow in digital networks, it is measured in bits per second). Example of Gateways include Wi-Fi, GPRS and a lot more.
Management Panel: After the sensor has garnered intelligence through the facilitation of Gateway and Networks, the Management Panel processes the information through modelling, security controls and analytics. Analytics reduces the time of query processing, as well as analysis of data-in-motion, is made within seconds, thus enhancing decision making and user experience.
This panel is also functional in ensuring data protection and general security, encoding has been done with Python and necessary C languages to prevent system hacking. Thus minimizing the possibility of risks.
IoT undoubtedly ushered in amazing innovations and ease across all sectors; law, health, family life, transportation, engineering agriculture and a lot more. Imagine leaving your house without your key with you and your house notifies you of that!
Here are a few sectors that IoT is very much applicable:
Smart Cities: Top-tier law firms, as well as big industries, are usually situated in very urban locations like Warri, Lagos and Abuja. Therefore, it is quite certain that the rate of Rural-Urban and Urban-Urban migration is going to keep rising. IoT systems had been used in road traffic, waste management, smart parking, crowdsensing, city lighting, effective water supply, et cetera.
Smart Agriculture: Poultry or animal rearing generally in Nigerian costs so much depending on the size, and there has been this cry for a better system of doing things. On this note, Nigerian researchers have come up with a “Mobile Feeding and water Dispensing System“. The system was able to move, replace, put feeds and generally facilitate feeding in poultry and stables.
Now, farm monitoring is now easy as a few Nigerian farms now use Farm Drones. Farm Drones have helped farm owners and managers in seeing to the general overview of crop monitoring, crop management, irrigation, planting and workers’ attitude.
Also, the latest development now is that there are automated tractors. If investments are made for this in Nigeria, they would ease farmers workload and increase productivity.
Smart Home: By and large, this is what enticed most people to the Internet of Things. Home appliances now have an inbuilt IoT system, for instance, a freezer reduces its level once it senses that those liquids are solidified. Beyond that, IoT helps in ensuring greater security and notifies the owner in case of intrusion.
Smart Business: Internet of Things is helpful for businesses as it assists service and product providers with improving client experience so they can know what to remove on improve on. For instance, IoT can help a “Microwave Making Factory” collect and analyse data as to the durability and efficiency of their products and how satisfied their clients are.
Smart Health: Some even say it is the health sector that will enjoy IoT the most. First of all, an attractive side benefit is that IoT is the most accurate and efficient way of garnering data. For instance, in a research to not what some particular patients need to do or avoid, the data from their appliances and IoT will immensely help to know where to come in.
In an emergency case, a person can contact a hospital through his smart health mobile app, and the doctor can assess the state of the patient through sensors on the IoT. Generally, patients get to stay more engaged with the Hospital as well as being properly followed up on.
The problem of Interoperability: In essence, interoperability refers to the ability of two objects or systems to exchange information and execute intelligence to please the user. It is the core of the Internet of Things. However, the problem here is that some objects or systems might not be able to understand one another and this is because their protocols and encoding languages might be far different, hence the reason mutual comprehension might be quite tasking.
Therefore, the problems of different standards, as well as heterogeneity, hampers how practical the Internet of Things might be in some cases. Hence, we need more Nigerian programmers and UI/UX Designers to team up and research ways to solve this problem.
Research and Development: This is very fundamental for cutting-edge development. Nigeria does not allocate enough resources for research, therefore, she must not seek to see the results those who invested in R and D are having.
A major stumbling block to IoT and even technology generally in Nigeria is that research is not sponsored. Therefore, in the best interest of the Nigerian government, she should call together technological stakeholders and fund research.
Interaction Between Tech Communities: In efficiently solving a problem using IoT, several tech communities need to come together to achieve a greater goal. The subtle faction/block between Nigerian programmers and Nigerian UI/UX designers would not really help in getting the best. Even in solving the interoperability problem, it all starts from interaction and brainstorming and agreement between programmers and UI/UX designers.
Insufficient Private Funding: Several private development companies have astonishing pitches of very helpful IoT inventions but do not have enough fund to manufacture IoT products. And seeing that the Nigerian government has relatively a lower interest in technology, private entities are the last hope to get this done.
Therefore, this writer opines that a Loan System be made available for this effect.
It is beautiful to end with a word that- to enjoy the ease and innovations of IoT in Nigeria, the government needs to provide an umbrella support in R&D as well as providing loans for private tech startups. All hands of tech stakeholders must also be on deck, ranging from programmers to UI/UX designers and most importantly the users!
John Fawole is a Law undergraduate and a content writer who has an interest in Technology, Law, Finance and anything within the tripod. He is currently interning at Ashurst LLP, Australia. You can reach him on LinkedIn.