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How a standardized ecosystem will help drive widespread IoT growth

By Phil Beecher, Wi-SUN AllianceTM

According to analyst firm Gartner, IoT endpoints will grow 32.9 percent up until 2020 by which time the installed base will have reached 20.4 billion units. With a market experiencing this kind of growth it’s imperative that any organisation thinking about implementing an IoT initiative gives careful consideration to their chosen network wireless technology.  This decision will ultimately define performance, longevity, reliability, interoperability and scalability for many years to come.

Interoperability will be a key component to drive the growth of IoT and creating a standardised ecosystem where devices can communicate and developers can work together.  As a result this will almost certainly lead to even more product options and features supported by stronger pricing competition.

Smart City applications are still in their infancy, and there will be many new developments and applications in the near future. Like the internet, IoT networks should be built on a set of standard protocols and structured to provide the flexibility to support this growing range of applications, as well as provide highly resilient connectivity. IoT networks additionally need to be fault tolerant while providing the capacity to deal with very large numbers of devices.

In order to support multi-service networks, it makes sense for a local  authority or municipality to use the same communications infrastructure to control a wide variety of applications, such as street lighting, traffic management and smart parking, as well as applications as yet unknown.  A single communications infrastructure not only avoids the replication of network equipment but enables new and smart functionality where different applications can interact and share data.

Among the new and diverse applications are an increasing number which require low latency and localised processing. This need for distributed control, together with low latency and the need for resilient, fault tolerant networks demonstrate the value of peer to peer mesh networks.  An overview of the benefits of mesh networks can be found here. Wi-SUN has also produced a white paper comparing three wireless technologies which are targeting outdoor IoT networks.

One of the biggest benefits of being a network owner or operator in a standardised IoT ecosystem is that there is no need to be locked into a single vendor. Solutions built on open standards, supported by a certification program for interoperability, provide the network operator with a choice of vendors, competitive pricing and the confidence of a continuity of supply.

Very soon IoT will be transforming towns and cities near you with the goal of enhancing the lives of both consumers and organisations alike. There are many unknowns but one thing is certain: those cities which implement their IoT initiatives on an ecosystem using open standards are far more likely to succeed and grow than those who don’t.