When considering any new or emerging technology, it can be easy to immediately think of the potential implementation in developed markets. After all, these are the markets where consumers have high purchasing power, and businesses and governments have strong credit lines and funding options. Well, wouldn’t it be a surprise to learn that the developing world will likely be responsible for almost half of all revenue generated by IoT? This is exactly what a 2015 report from the International Telecommunication Union stated, and if you look at trends and innovation around the world, there is evidence that supports the prediction.
Industry Leaders Recognize the Value of IoT in Developing Markets
Take India as an example. Although it is one of the largest countries by area, and the second most populous in the world, it is still considered to be a developing country by leading economists. Even so, there are some areas where India is a leader in IoT. In 2015, IBM selected the Indian city of Vizag as a winner in their Smarter Cities Challenge. This city wants to improve its disaster preparedness and response programs through the use of IoT technologies, and with the help of IBM, the government will work towards implementing a sensor based utility grid, improve citywide electronic communications, and develop an emergency command center that uses historical data and machine sensors to better predict and respond to natural disasters.
This program has the potential to attract foreign investment, create jobs, and save lives.
Markets That are Ideal for IoT Investment
One reason why developing nations are prime for IoT investment is because many of them can make immediate use of IoT technologies for critical applications. In the gridlocked Philippine region of Metro Manila, government agencies are using connected machines to monitor traffic in real time and provide public alerts. The metropolitan area is served by a number of CCTV systems and sensors that can be accessed through APIs, allowing for news stations and privately developed smartphone apps to provide instant updates to the general public.
Safety is also an issue in many developing countries, and again, we can use Metro Manila as an example. The region’s widely utilized MRT rail lines are often overcrowded and sometimes dangerous. With connected technology, members of the public can already access the MRT security CCTV feeds from smartphones and web browsers, allowing them to view real time platform video to help plan their daily commutes.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that developing countries have is that they are lacking in some areas of infrastructure. A developing city that now has the funds to invest in widespread water metering will have more incentive to use accurate and efficient machine driven meters. By contrast, a long developed city would have to weigh up the cost savings of an IoT based system, compared to the efficiency of their current metering system.
IoT Infrastructure Can Be Built on Existing Cellular Networks
Despite lack of infrastructure in some areas, LTE penetration is high in a number of developing economies, meaning that there is increased opportunity for bringing IoT services to corporations and the general public. India has LTE penetration throughout more than 50% of the population, which means that there is potential to connect more than half a billion people to the Internet of Things. China, which could be considered still developing in some provinces and cities, boasts LTE coverage across 76% of the mainland. That’s only two points behind the United States, and China has more than four times the population, allowing for massive opportunity in the consumer and public service IoT sectors.
While the developed world is no doubt leading in IoT innovation, developing countries will contribute significantly to revenue, adoption, and investment. With more than $6 trillion in worldwide IoT investment expected by 2020, developers and innovators cannot afford to ignore the world’s developing economies.
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