The Internet of Things (IoT) used to be the domain of future forecasters. Now, the future is here and IoT is increasingly becoming more a part of day-to-day activities, driven by mobile connectivity.
IoT is already all around us. It is used for solutions such as helping us save water through leak detection, to guarantee a cold chain for perishables or even to alert us to wild fires.
The benefits of using mobile devices to connect people, machines, the environment and the ability to predict behaviours, are immense.
The potential to streamline and increase efficiencies within the service delivery sector, as well as establishing early warning systems for natural disasters, are examples of how IoT, together with mobile connectivity, can make a lasting difference where it matters most.
As it stands, many of South Africa’s municipalities operate using legacy processes and business models that, in this digital era, are not best-suited to provide citizens with the level of service they could be experiencing. Disruptive service delivery remains a national bugbear and conflation point for potential protests. It is time to harness the full power of IoT to change course for the betterment of the lives of all citizens.
MTN Business has realised this need and is actively developing solutions to assist the public sector as they move toward embracing the digital tools at their disposal. Raising awareness is only the start, and as adoption rates improve we expect to see material differences in the service space – all driven by the power of IoT, together with increased penetration of mobile connectivity and solutions.
As IoT solutions continue to evolve, other exciting avenues are opening up, for instance, MTN is already finding new ways to implement early warning systems to guard against the devasting impact of natural disasters. According to a 2017 GreenCape market intelligence report, 37% of South Africa’s water supply is lost through leaks across many cities, and in Gauteng water lost through leaks has spiraled to over 30-million kiloliters.
As an example, the deployment of IoT solutions in the Western Cape could assist the Government and its water management utilities by proactively ensuring the scarce commodity is not lost through unnecessary wastage and leaking pipes. A smart water management solution proactively checks leaks in the system, while simultaneously monitoring dam levels and water pressure, thereby creating a real-time early detection system.
Another example of the positive impact that the smart deployment of MTN Business’ IoT solutions can have is a fire monitoring solution that strategically places sensors that monitor heat and smoke levels. Utilising IoT technology connected remotely on the MTN network, these sensors should be able to ensure sufficient response measures are implemented before fires can spread. This should drastically reduce damage caused by runaway fires.
As MTN continues to expand its footprint, the company has invested an average of R10 billion rand each year over the past three years to upgrade and stabilise its network infrastructure which allows the above-mentioned solutions to operate seamlessly.
Continued investment in infrastructure will enhance mobile connectivity and experiences well into the future.
Putting the network effect to good use is another way of making change happen quickly with scale. In this regard, our expansive networking of 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East, for instance, provides opportunities for the public sector and enterprise clients to branch out into new markets outside of our borders.
Furthermore, MTN has a footprint of 42 data centres across the continent and has forged partnerships with the likes of Microsoft to enable enterprises to seamlessly transmit data across a vast network of countries. Through the investment we have made in undersea cables such as WACS (West Africa Cable System), EASSy (East African Submarine Cable System), EIG (Europe India Gateway) and ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) we can provide a gateway to the rest of the world in a way that no other operator can.
MTN is focused on the delivery of bold, new digital experiences and the addition of IoT solutions. The impact of a connected world reinforces our ability to not only meet, but to exceed the needs of South Africans.
By David Mphelo, General Manager for Public Sector: MTN Business