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Smart cities: exploring citizen benefits

Karim Hussami

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Smart cities

The dynamic shift brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crucial for countries to adopt emerging technological trends to facilitate daily life, work and the economy. Smart city development has accelerated in response to change and urbanization, as digital solutions pave the way toward a more liveable future.

The smart city landscape is expanding with the emergence and rising adoption of connected technologies and increasing government initiatives. “The global smart cities market size is expected to grow from USD 410.8 billion in 2020 to USD 820.7 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.8% during the forecast period,” according to Research and Markets.

Smart cities will proliferate as 5G/IoT-powered solutions gather valuable information and improve the overall connectivity of citizens and enhance governance and participation.

In addition, as long as the aging population increases, technological provisions are required to help ease the growing pressure on global healthcare systems and community-based services.

Smart cities can have a significant impact on business development by engaging community business owners and municipalities. In order to encourage the greatest level of efficiency, companies tend to have a continuous flow of information with lawmakers about new policies, regulations, taxes, benefits and credit schemes that may be applicable to them. The exchange of data made possible by AI-powered IoT can help support long-term customer relationships and strategic partnerships.

Some of the services that can be offered to citizens include matters like payroll, medical compensation, provision of funding, pension schemes, and bank information. This method conserves resources in services that often require HR involvement or outsourcing.

Smart government initiatives can produce reports and publish data for businesses to make better-informed decisions when forecasting. Higher levels of digital engagement encourages more business transactions which in turn promotes economic development.

In daily life, smart city sensors can be utilized for public lighting, air quality monitoring, localized parking assistance, watering of public parks, among other use cases. For example, the city of Santander in Spain has been recognized for its progressive smart city vision. Parking solutions were implemented in the city as early as 2013. Electronic information and mobile apps keep drivers informed about parking space availability and traffic flow which prevents traffic congestion and accidents in busy commercial spots.

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Journalist for 7 years in print media, with a bachelor degree in Political Science and International Affairs. Masters in Media communications.

IoT

Telenor unifies its IoT services portfolio

Inside Telecom Staff

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Telenor IoT services

Norwegian telecoms provider Telenor Group announced late last week that it will be unifying its Internet of Things (IoT) services across the Nordic region and internationally, placing them under one large portfolio.

“Effective immediately, Telenor IoT will be offered from all Telenor business channels in the Nordics, and internationally by Telenor Connexion and through selected partners,” the provider said in a statement.

As a part of introducing Telenor IoT, a new operating model is being launched to leverage on Telenor’s global competency, synchronize product development, accelerate the customer facing business and improve technical support.

“In doing so, Telenor is bringing together 200 full time IoT specialists, the largest team for any Nordic IoT service provider,” the telco said. It also highlighted that the company would act as one united global IoT team with a uniform product portfolio and go-to-market strategy – bringing the best capabilities and competence to every customer.

“The new operating model reinforces our competitive edge and makes our product portfolio easier to buy for any customer searching for world class IoT operation and platform capabilities. We are also getting scale benefits on new technology investments,” Commenting on the announcement, Mats Lundquist, CEO of Telenor Connexion and manager of Telenor IoT said in the statement.

The Telenor IoT offering will be supplied by Telenor IoT specialists located in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

“The launch of Telenor IoT and unifying our IoT capabilities and competencies will make us better positioned to accelerate the digital future that will benefit customers, businesses, and society. The steps we are taking now is the culmination of several months of intense collaboration between colleagues in Telenor’s Nordic telco businesses, Telenor Connexion, and Telenor’s Nordic Hub,” Jukka Leinonen, Nordic EVP and Chairman of the Telenor Connexion Board said.

Telenor is considered as a big player within the IoT services space with over 17 million connected devices active in more than 190 countries. In 2019, the provider was positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide.

Today, Telenor ranks among the top 10 IoT operators globally, and in the top 3 in Europe by volume, and is the clear market leader in the Nordics.

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IoT

E-scooters to benefit from Ericsson-Arkessa partnership

Karim Hussami

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E-scooters Ericsson Arkessa

After using the internet to keep people connected for quite some time, many devices nowadays have the capability to be connected to each other by the internet of things technology (IoT) which can work directly through a smartphone.

From small devices to cars and houses, IoT is the main driver to create a new ecosystem by having objects engineered to seamlessly communicate with each other, and especially with the user, to support all day connectivity across the ecosystem.

According to Ericsson, the number of cellular IoT connections will grow from 1.7 billion in 2020 to 5.9 billion in 2026, while the manufacturing IoT managed services segment is estimated to hold approximately 27.5% of the market share in 2026, according to Persistentmarketresearch.

New partnership for IoT connectivity

As such, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Arkessa reached a deal to provide a secure, managed global connectivity solution that supports the rapid and efficient deployment of Voi e-scooter fleets around the world.

According to Ericsson, that partnership will help increase micro-mobility in cities by having global SIMs supplied by Arkessa, allowing Voi to easily provision, activate scooters and manage its fleet of connected scooters worldwide, regardless of their location.

Arkessa’s global connectivity offers Sweedish Voi the flexibility to deploy its growing fleet of e-scooters in various countries while minimizing costs and optimizing coverage.

One SIM can connect to different service providers without the need for physical replacements, offering significant cost savings in fleet management. Voi gains full global connectivity management benefits powered by Ericsson IoT Accelerator.

These IoT-enabled devices contain sensors that constantly collect and react to data, and this vast level of data can be used to unlock new levels of intelligence.

Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and co-founder of Voi, says, “We are excited to work with Arkessa to provide superior IoT connectivity in our scooters and ensure an even higher level of service for our riders and partner cities. By leveraging Arkessa’s secure and resilient global network connectivity, Voi can continue to deliver fast, reliable e-scooter services as we expand into new markets and roll out our next-generation vehicles and IoT hardware.”

Benefits of IoT scooters

In parallel, these scooters which are activated by the smartphone now ubiquitous in every country in Europe and the United States, giving citizens, tourists and locals an alternative and convenient option to move around the city.

On the other hand, the data is collected from the scooter directly  via integrated sensors which are transmitted via cellular connectivity to the systems of the companies that own them.

Information – which includes the location of each connected  bicycles and scooter, how long each ride takes, which docks need to be restocked, and which ones are full – is always available in real time.

For example, New York’s Citi Bike makes its system data publicly available and invites developers, engineers, and statisticians to use it for analysis, development, and visualization. These measures are taken for the purpose of making better decisions related to transportation and municipal infrastructures.

The idea is that the continuously streamed data collected from connected bikes and scooters will become a crucial components of a fully functional and responsive interconnected grid that can process big data      .

Enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of cellular IoT to deliver new services, derive new revenue streams and improve operational cost-efficiency.

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IoT

Tips to increase and maintain IoT smart home security

Karim Hussami

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IoT smart home security

From the thermostat and television to lights, curtains, and security systems, the Internet of things (IoT) turns any home into one connected cell controlled by the single touch of its owner.

Once a home is transformed into a smart one, all connected devices can be controlled remotely through the Internet. However, as with every technology, it is subject to various cybersecurity risks.

According to a report by Statista, the global market revenue in Smart Home technology is forecasted to reach a value of US$77,386 million in 2020, and more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

“A global comparison reveals that most revenue is generated in the United States (US$23,328m in 2020),” the report highlighted.

Ways to improve IoT security

Before purchasing any IoT device, users should primarily research the different devices available as well as their related security level to select the safer option in terms of security and privacy.

Thus, to benefit from the efficiency of these smart devices whilst shielding them from attacks, there are several measures that should be taken by the smart homeowners:

 1- Update the software:

According to U.S.-based cybersecurity software developer Norton, software updates related to IoT devices should not be neglected and updated frequently when notified on their smartphones.

In parallel, users should manually follow up for software updates by regularly checking online for update availability and launch dates.

Taking a step backwards, homeowners should ensure the availability of security on IoT devices to begin with, since security isn’t on the manufacturers’ top priority list, as some devices are not designed with a mechanism for updating software, leading to vulnerabilities putting it under potential risk.

2- Use strong passwords:

The second most important security measure for IoT devices after software updates, according to an article published by Forbes Technology Council, is the use of the strongest authentication possible.

In other words, passwords are to be long, complex, and hard to guess.         

“To gain control of a device, the hacker needs certain information from you. Many of these instances come when default passwords or simple phrases are used,” Richard Davis, Katalyst Data Management said.

Davis recommends using a password manager and a second-factor authentication app (rather than mobile phone SMS) to control access. These will deter the drive-by hacker by increasing the amount of work they have to put into hacking you.

3- Set up the router securely:

First off, changing the routers’ default name after purchase to a unique name that cannot be traced to the user’s home address is key to preventing unauthenticated access by cybercriminals.

Likewise, using complex and long passwords, including upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and special characters will help secure it even further. In addition, strong encryption protocols are highly recommended to protect Wi-fi access and network security.

The highest level of encryption is currently WPA2, which will be soon succeeded by WPA3.

“Home routers are primary IoT targets for hackers. Thus, a secure router translates to a substantially more secure smart home,” Travis Goodreau, a home Security & Safety Expert at SafeHome, was quoted as saying.

Each IoT device is to have a separate login credential so that if one device is hacked, the others remain unaffected. A password manager tool can be used to store the passwords for all the devices since there can be many passwords, one for each device, and easily forgotten users.

In parallel to that, a separate network is to be set up for IoT devices, granting sole access to the homeowner, to add an extra layer of security, whilst giving access to other networks for family, friends, and visitor use.

4- Install a next generation firewall:

The traditional firewall system may not be sufficient to secure IoT devices from cyberattacks, thus, the introduction of next generation firewall – which is an integrated platform that combines the traditional firewall with other functionalities such as virtual private network (VPN), malware protection and intrusion prevention system (IPS). 

Although next generation firewalls are quite expensive, having the right security measures in place is worth their weight in gold.

The threat of cyberattacks on digital homes is on the rise, and the importance of safeguarding smart home security is increasing as consumers acquire more developed IoT devices, and become even more connected.

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