Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications

For organisations facing unparalleled business challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, embracing IoT, which offers multi-billion-dollar business opportunities, is no longer just an option. The current crisis has led to accelerated technology adoption, especially IoT-based solutions enabling remote asset monitoring and control across industries.

With 5G, the world will see a further surge in connected devices, generating 1,000x higher mobile data volumes, coupled with 5x lower latency than now, and newer applications especially in connected healthcare and remote management solutions with batteries lasting up to 10 years for low-power devices.

IoT and 5G applications are being used in everything from sensors to artificial intelligence to big data analytics, which makes everything not just connected but also smart. While industrial sectors, such as manufacturing, automobiles and utilities, smart cities, BFSI and even the agricultural sector are adopting advanced technologies, in the Indian context, IoT and 5G together have a critical role to play in the healthcare domain. These technologies can help in the increased use of telemedicine. Setting up telecom infrastructure in rural areas to increase the reach of registered medical professionals is easier than making specialists available physically. With 1 billion-plus mobile phone connections, m-banking, m-entertainment, m-commerce and m-governance are becoming a reality. This indicates a huge potential for telemedicine in the healthcare sector. Virtual visits enabled by telemedicine are a game changer in light of the fact that physical consultations and OPDs have been cancelled due to Covid. In most of the hospitals, telecalling, video consultations and doctor on-demand services are now readily available. It can be anticipated that online pharmacy, medicine technology, medical devices, and healthcare data and analytics can flourish even if this virus subsides. A study from Reportlinker predicts that investments required for the implementation of IoT solutions in the healthcare sector would drive a 19.9 per cent annual market growth between now and 2025, eventually reaching an estimated $534.3 billion.

Another sector that would be transformed with the emergence of 5G is automobiles. 5G is going to play an important role in the development of autonomous vehicles with new car models and heavy vehicles being launched with rich features such as advanced driver assistance system, automatic braking, collision avoidance and lane departure warning. With 5G, automobile players would be able to equip their service fleet with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capabilities. An automobile will be able to connect in real time to traffic management systems and other cars on the road to determine the safest and most efficient way to navigate a given route, right down to the distance between the vehicle and any obstacles that lie ahead. As part of an integrated traffic system, a fleet vehicle can help the driver anticipate the road in front and even decelerate to avoid collisions using on-board M2M communication. The huge amount of data thus generated needs to be responded to with quick turnaround time. According to Barclays, an autonomous car can generate 100 GB data per second, and with a response time of less than a millisecond and an output of 1 Gigabit, 5G will be the new definition for speed and connectivity for autonomous vehicles. To bring the rich experience of connected mobility through IoT for vehicle owners, Aeris and Volkswagen entered into a joint venture earlier this year for the development and operations of connected vehicle platform technologies.

Enormous operational efficiencies can also be achieved in the manufacturing supply chain with IoT and 5G. For business, smart mobility means connected supply chain and connected fleets which can be tracked and monitored any time and from anywhere in real time. As supply chains get disrupted and demand patterns change amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, real-time supply chain visibility is proving to be extremely important. Thus, technologies enabling remote asset access, digital twins, live tracking and tracing tools, workforce collaboration platforms and smart cities data platforms are now mission critical. Aeris recently launched the Smart Fleet Platform, an end-to-end connected platform and telematics solution for fleet owners.

Enterprise-wide high speed connectivity is crucial for organisations competing on innovation and talent. IoT and 5G together can enable enterprises in managing everything from marketing intelligence to improved operations, enhanced customer experience and business excellence. The industry can expect exceptionally fast speed connectivity, low latency, ubiquitous coverage and some other notable benefits – which would all make IoT far more superior and effective than it is now. How each sector and enterprise leverages the competitive advantage brought by IoT and 5G is limited only by its imagination.