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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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26 Mar 2020

Japanese telecoms group NTT has signed a capital and business tie-up deal with Toyota Motor to jointly invest around USD1.8 billion in a smart city/connected car programme starting in 2021 at a former Toyota plant site in Shizuoka Prefecture, Nikkei Asian Review reports. Toyota aims to speed up development of next-generation vehicles using 5G standards, having previously launched a joint research and development project for connected cars with the NTT group (including cellco NTT DOCOMO) in 2017, with vehicle tests being conducted since December 2018. In their latest project, the partners aim to ‘establish a basic technology to compile a huge amount of pseudo data collected from connected cars, including vehicle travel data and video taken of the environment surrounding moving vehicles, which will be analysed at a central location’, the report said. The project will involve construction of a ‘Woven City’ testing ground envisioned as a futuristic connected town to test self-driving cars including Toyota’s in-development e-Palette electric vehicle, plus indoor-usage robots, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications, and AI technologies. Toyota has existing partnerships with NTT’s rival mobile operators SoftBank and KDDI.

Operators of Sigfox IoT networks are forming an international association named ‘0G United Nations’ to represent their common interests and coordinate industry cooperation. The new association will be led by a board consisting of two members from each of the Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa regions, and will be based in Leuven, Belgium, reports Belgian news site Datanews. Sigfox ‘0G’ IoT networks operate in more than 70 countries on five continents.

Nokia announced the completion of ‘phase one’ of a 5G-ready industrial-grade private wireless network at the Belgian Port of Zeebrugge, in a collaboration with Citymesh. Via the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud platform, the network provides connectivity to more than 100 endpoints across the entire port to enable Zeebrugge to deliver a range of new and enhanced services improving the port’s operational performance, including tracking, analysing and managing connected devices across multiple applications in real time. Nokia stated that its end-to-end, high-performance, low-latency 5G-ready network will accelerate port innovation and automation with deployment of IoT, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and drones. The network is already being used for connectivity with tugboats, air pollution detectors, security cameras and quay sensors, and will also be leveraged during the upcoming construction of a new sea lock and during building and maintenance of offshore wind farms. Several external suppliers have also signed up to the network, which will be used by port-based companies for dispatching, connectivity with straddle carriers, track and trace systems and integrated communications. Phase one of the project established increased automation in Zeebrugge’s outer port area, while phase two will focus on the inner port.

Vodafone Germany, in partnership with Dusseldorf-based tech company Corevas (part of the UPLIFT IoT start-up programme), have expanded their EmergencyEye remote medical assessment/diagnosis system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The system – enabling a detailed initial assessment of patients remotely via live video – has so far primarily been used in rescue control centres, but Vodafone and Corevas have now readied EmergencyEye for use in medical practices, hospitals and viewing points for potential COVID-19 patients. Via smartphone, doctors can remotely make decisions on whether or not a person requires treatment at a medical facility. Vodafone has set up a separate communication channel for the system to initiate video chat as quickly as possible in an emergency, and regardless of any user data allowances. The system does not require an app to be installed by the potential patient, and can be activated in surgeries, hospitals and other service centres in a few hours. Corevas is offering EmergencyEye free of charge for medical centres until the end of July.

Looking at wider issues of the implications of the COVID-19 crisis and how IoT might support global efforts to combat such threats in the future, Dilip Sarangan, IoT Global Research Director at Frost & Sullivan, gave a Blockchain Radio interview (see link below) exploring the impact of coronavirus on the Chinese economy and the ‘holy grail of IoT opportunity’ in the long term. Sarangan highlighted how IoT can help by providing an early warning system to curb the spread of infectious diseases – e.g. via scanners for all passengers at domestic and international airports to detect high temperatures or other symptoms – noting that the recent push to migrate data analytics capabilities of IoT from the cloud to the edge (including on devices themselves) enables real-time information and intelligence to rapidly detect infected people in order to implement quarantines.

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