Pluses and Minuses of India’s Interoperability of Things


  • As Cloud Computing Rises, Interoperability of Things Advances in India
  • Gameplan Lacks International Charm
  • India of Things Caves In on Itself
  • The Road to True Interoperability

As Cloud Computing Rises, Interoperability of Things Advances in India

The business world is great at innovating to create particular devices and systems that will support intelligent technology in residential, governmental, and industrial environments. However, the headway made by tech companies is disorganized. Of course it is: the challenge created by the free market is the need to cooperate to advance interoperability. In fact, lack of interoperability is already a major problem today worldwide, as evidenced by American healthcare: 50% of registered nurses say that they have witnessed a medical error because devices were not integrated.

India is attempting to meet this challenge head-on by creating an established national plan to build the Internet of Things in a manner that will enhance the ability of data to flow seamlessly and securely between devices.

“In what amounts to the world’s first national strategy for the Internet of Things,” explains Center for Data Innovation analyst Joshua New, “the roadmap outlines the framework for a comprehensive, systematic approach to support digitization efforts in India, particularly the recently approved plan to build 100 smart cities across the country.”

Gameplan Lacks International Charm

The Indian plan establishes guidelines that would increase the pace at which smart machines would be ready for broad use – such as widening the bandwidth that the technologies could use, devising standards for integration, and going easy on regulations. The downside is that a number of isolationist “India first” rules delineated in the strategy would make it more difficult to incorporate devices from other countries and necessitate that the Indian version of IoT would only be powered by India-based servers.

That India is moving forward with the first-ever Internet of Things national roadmap is essentially positive for data innovation. However, partitioning itself off from the rest of the world is a major mistake if the nation wants to take as much advantage as it can of the financial and civic potential of connected devices.

The gameplan correctly targets integration challenges as paramount in the development of the IoT market. It identifies various methods to simplify the ability of networks and smart machines to interact. One simple step that’s being taken is that the country’s Telecommunication Engineering Center is developing standards in order to certify any technologies that are built ready-made for interoperability. This move is a good thing, provided that international standards are used to build the India-specific ones so that companies building machines can make sure they are useful worldwide.

In addition, says New, the plan advises that all IoT services used by local government, such as mass transit and trash removal, operate through Internet Protocol (IP) to avoid data lock-in. “The roadmap also identifies the need to ensure that wireless spectrum is available for the increasing amount of devices in the Internet of Things,” he adds, “though at this point the roadmap only commits to exploring the issue further and allocating some licensed spectrum bands for experimentation purposes on a limited basis.”

A significant amount of the guidelines are dedicated to building Internet of Things specific to India, as indicated above. Venture capital and incubation entities will be created to spark more private interest in the industry. The Technology Engineering Center will create testing centers to accelerate the rate at which products are certified. Since any technology also requires people who understand it for development and support, the country’s National Telecom Institute for Policy Research, Innovation, and Training will write training manuals specifically for the connected environment.

India won’t just jump headfirst into the Internet of Things but will instead start with 15 smart city test projects. Additionally, the Center of Innovation (created in 2012) will be tasked with management – handling regulations, tying in international interests, and fostering research.

India of Things Caves In on Itself

The protectionism exhibited by India is a serious problem. It really goes against the entire idea of interoperability while supposedly attempting to tackle that issue.

“Under the guise of encouraging interoperability, India plans to require import licenses for short distance and low power transmitting devices,” says New, “which could potentially allow the Indian government to charge foreign companies extortive fees to access Indian markets, or block them entry altogether.”

The governmental plan also states that specific types of smart machines, including those with GPS and PGHD (patient-generated health data) capabilities, should be drawn within the framework of the Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy, which represents another instance of “India-first” over interoperability.

It makes sense that the government of India is interested in building up businesses within its own borders. However, PMA is not likely to build the Indian economy because, due to the lack of competition it will allow, it will promote more expensive products that don’t work as well. Keeping the Internet of Things infrastructure within Indian borders is also problematic, keeping industry from being able to find the best and most affordable ways to store and process data.

The road to true interoperability

The road to interoperability is fundamentally cooperative. Companies with the expertise to build the Internet of Things must work in tandem. One of the simplest and most reliable ways to move toward interoperability is with standards, so that technologies are all moving toward the same level playing field.

That’s why it’s important to build your IoT project with a cloud provider that is fundamentally dedicated to national and international IT standards.

By Kent Roberts

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