WINDHOEK- The current status of Internet of Things in Namibia is something worth pondering on since we have to keep up with the times in terms of technology. The Internet of Things can be defined as the connection of physical objects via wired or wireless networks.
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Digital Forensics and Information Security Cluster at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) Dr Atlee Gamundani says IoT can be viewed as a catalyst for the 4th Industrial Revolution. “It is through IoT that cyber-physical systems come to life, through sensors, networks and actuators,” he said.
The most common IoT are smartphones, but other popular IoT include smart-watches, smart-lamps, voice hubs, smart TVs, home security systems and other smart home automation systems, and home appliances.
IoT takes many forms and is visibly noticeable in many service sectors of any environment from buildings, energy, healthcare, homes, industrial, transportation, retail, safety and security, IT and networks to name a few. “Anything that we term smart is virtually any domain that has been enabled by IoT through its fusion with various other enabling technologies like cloud computing, edge computing and artificial intelligence. In construction, they talk of smart buildings which are energy-saving,” stated Gamundani.
He mentioned that a perfect example of IoT specifically in the healthcare system is that a lot of smart products for personal and health and lifestyle management are in use today ranging from smart watches, pedometers, to vital signs monitoring devices. Furthermore, industrial systems are now witnessing the use of smart machinery that reports when they are due for service and can sense movements hence improving work safety and minimising human error.
Gamundani highlighted how IoT has impacted the transportation industry. “In the transportation industry, even private vehicles are coming out smarter these days, with parking sensors, driver fatigue monitoring capabilities and a whole lot of other intelligent functional services inbuilt at the manufacturer level, which are meant to improve our quality of lives and our safety,” stated Gamundani.
“In as much as we can highlight the current status of IoT as being at its infancy in that most of the solutions may not necessarily be home-brewed, there is ample room for IoT applications development, which are contextual to our problems,” observed Gamundani.
With the City of Windhoek motioning towards a smart city on various service levels, Gamundani impressed on the acceptance and appreciation of the potential of IoT. “The fact that we are not in a closed society, but part and parcel of the global village, we can either be on the receiving end or play a role in the design and implementation of contextual IoT driven solutions relevant to our environment. I can confirm the education sector is not disappointing, as there is growth in the research projects and curriculum improvements to incorporate such key disruptive technologies such as IoT,” he said.
Gamundani continued that there is a lot of work ongoing from Masters and PhD researches especially in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics at Nust, focusing on IoT research that are targeting various application domains from agriculture, security, artificial IoT and how the industry can monetise IoT.
Professional Speaker, president of the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia and Chairman of the Global Speakers Summit 2020 Brendan Ihmig says with many technological developments, Namibia has been rather slow in adapting and incorporating IoTs, especially at a consumer level, into everyday life. “There are many contributing factors to this, but Namibians are generally not ‘early adaptors’ of innovation and technology,” outlined Ihmig.
Ihmig who runs a multimedia production company and does digital branding and marketing consultancy said security is and always will be a concern in this digital age of hyper-connectivity. “In most cases, IoT are as secure as the networks they are connected to, however, due diligence is needed especially in commercial and corporate applications and there are industry standards that provide the safeguards for IoT specifically and networks in general,” said Ihmig.
He further mentioned that Namibia is a country with many challenges in various areas, many of which could be addressed with the incorporation of IoT. “Addressing these issues could potentially both eliminate losses in some cases and generate revenue in others. The current potential, however, is limited mainly to our exposure and creativity regarding IoT and technological innovation,” he stated.
He nonetheless sees two possible futures for Namibia with regards to IoT. “One is a future where Namibia embraces and adapts them (IoT) in ever-increasing numbers and as a result, benefits from the opportunities they can bring to our lives. The other is a future where Namibia continues to fall behind technological advancements and innovations and as a result, only a handful of Namibians get to experience the many benefits IoT have to offer,” he concluded, saying he hopes it will be the former and not the latter.