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Standardized connectivity protocols lead to growth of IIoT apps

Smart cities are currently positioned to most positively benefit from the growth of connected infrastructure. Some cities around the world, especially in India, have invested heavily in the infrastructure necessary to create a smart city. Other countries, however, have been slower to follow suit for a variety of reasons.

One reason is a lack of standardization for internet communication protocols. This has limited the ability for developers to create new industrial IoT apps, as opposed to consumer IoT apps, which rely less on connected infrastructure and more on connected devices. Once protocol standards and IIoT app development have aligned, the possibilities are nearly endless.

A smart city prediction

With the rise of smart city initiatives, the 802.11 ah (HaLow) wireless networking protocol will overpower Bluetooth in 2017 for critical infrastructure applications like traffic management, public safety, energy efficiency and public infrastructure design. By the end of 2017, millions of smart IoT devices will be deployed into networks that use the HaLow protocol and it will eventually become the standard for IIoT.

One of the main challenges to smart city growth so far has been the reluctance for industry leaders to choose a single standard for connectivity. So far, HaLow has been considered one of the titans, but there is yet to be a move to make it the standard for further development. This Wi-Fi protocol brings many benefits to the table, including its high-speed data transmission and the early backing of IEEE.

Nipping on the heels of HaLow is the emergence of Bluetooth 5. Where HaLow shines — high-speed data transmission rates for longer distances — Bluetooth 5 falls flat. But Bluetooth 5 has perks of its own: low energy needs means longer battery life for the devices that use Bluetooth 5, and, of course, the cost factor cannot be ignored either — Bluetooth 5 is much cheaper to implement. Additionally, where Bluetooth 5 is already up and running, HaLow is still being rolled out, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Smart cities need bandwidth, but…

They also need cost-effective solutions that can be rolled out today. Where the benefits outweigh the cost is most likely the side to which smart city developers will fall. As urban areas continue to expand outward, the need for high-bandwidth solutions will become more important, which would seem to favor 802.11ah in the long run.

As the standardization becomes finalized, the entire marketplace will open up to IoT developers. Previously, developers were hamstrung due to the inability to develop apps that functioned across platforms and protocols, so the expected explosion of connected apps, especially on the industrial IoT side, never materialized.

Then, in 2016, industrial IoT app development made headlines as the technology landscape saw a more aggressive evolution. Today, app developers are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunity to create third-party apps for industrial and critical infrastructure operations. While the demand for smart data increases and organizations work to update legacy systems, particularly at edge networks, our next 2017 prediction is all about IIoT app development.

Will industrial IoT apps outpace consumer IoT apps in 2017 and beyond?

IIoT app development programs will begin to outgrow/outpace consumer IoT app development programs within the next three years. Third-party IIoT application development at the edge (i.e., fog computing) specifically will eliminate need for big data transmission capabilities. The ability to filter specific data needs directly at the source means less of a need to collect all the data for broad analysis.

There are several key points that align to support the possibility of this happening:

  • Smarter data, not bigger data
    The ability to filter specific data needs directly at the source will reduce the need to collect all the data for analysis as big data transitions towards smart data. Smart data organizations within IIoT will develop applications that enable them to get only the data they need, when they need it. This will drive faster response times and cloud resources will be able to take on more data intensive tasks like trends and historical analysis.
  • The developer benefits
    The attraction towards the more lucrative business of developing apps for IIoT networks will drive a lot of growth in the area of IIoT app development. Developers will also have the opportunity help solve major infrastructure issues that accompany big initiatives, such as smart cities and improvements to critical infrastructure projects. These initiatives are likely to drive more investments into IIoT app development, creating new business opportunities for developers.
  • Cybersecurity initiatives
    The demand for cybersecurity will drive the growth of IIoT app development as organizations work to prevent DoS and hacking attacks — especially on legacy systems. Leveraging cybersecurity apps to support those existing systems will help organizations protect their data and improve operations.
  • Interoperability and open standards
    Systems today require more interoperability between disparate and oftentimes outdated technologies and systems. Because of the business demands for interoperability, the IIoT network impact on IT systems, the enterprises will require more software solutions for enhanced visibility and control to bring everyone and every system onto a single toolchain. Because there are more open standards and modern technologies being deployed, IT groups will need new business apps to coincide with the apps deployed along the IIoT systems.

Ultimately, what the industrial sector is looking for is the ability to align the vast technological possibilities that proprietary IIoT apps offer with a communication standard that allows these apps to work across industries and platforms. Although we haven’t quite reached this peak, we inch closer with each day and each innovation.

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