IoT might have two inconsistent scenarios
Africa’s eHealth plans tend to have limited requirements for the Internet of Things (IoT). As health systems mull over their IoT strategies, it’s worth considering two scenarios identified in an article in MIT Technology Review. It seems that IoT might help improve patient care by making data-sharing easier. It might also put patients at risk, especially from cyber-security challenges. A solution has a dilemma too. Some want more government oversight and regulation. Others say this approach could stifle innovation that’s crucial to IoT’s trajectory.
The article says prominent computer security experts recently told the US Congress that the “Growing mass of poorly secured devices on the Internet of things represents a serious risk to life and property, and the government must intervene to mitigate it.” A graphic example of the catastrophic risk was the Denial of Service (DoS) attack on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure provider. Cyber-criminals found ways in with a botnet that hacked webcams, camcorders and baby monitors. It shows that the Internet alone can’t support critical systems safely.
A case’s made that IoT manufacturers lack incentives to assign a high priority to security. Regulation’s seen as the solution by many, but precisely how’s a matter of intense debate. Business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Technology Association say new IoT regulations could hinder innovation. A challenge seems to be to either reconcile these views or take one side.
As eHNA posted, Africa’s eHealth regulation deficit needs a boost. Countries’ eHealth regulation start to catch up with developed countries before IoT regulation can be introduced. A better option may be for countries to start to introduce IoT regulation as a single, integrated exercise across all sectors. It can be vehicle for both IoT investment and innovation in healthcare.
- 485 views
- January 24, 2017
- Tom Jones
Africa's IoT revolution's underway
The number of connected devices around the world continues to multiply, with International Data Corporation (IDC) expecting that the worldwide market will reach a total value of $1,7-trillion in 2020, says an article in IT Online. The firm believes that the Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity in Africa is enormous, with the continent likely to house around 1-billion connected devices by the turn of the decade.
George Kalebaila, senior research manager at IDC Sub-Saharan Africa, believes that “the opportunities are endless, with the spread of IoT enabling smart industry, smart health, smart living, smart energy, smart transport, smart buildings, smart cities, and an overall smarter planet. Indeed, the only forces restricting the application of IoT are our imaginations and the rate at which policy frameworks can catch up to regulate the industry.”
IoT dependens on understanding and interpreting data for actionable insights. Without data and analytics, IoT won’t deliver its intended value. “IoT is not a technology but an ecosystem consisting of software vendors, IT services providers, systems integrators, cloud providers, and network providers,” Kalebaila adds. “These industry players have the opportunity to optimise the potential value of IoT by partnering with each other to provide end-to-end solutions. Simply put, when IoT-based products and solutions become connected, their value increases exponentially and the number of potential use cases explodes.”
Recent ICD research shows that 33% of enterprises in South Africa are planning significant IoT investment over the next three years. It’s being driven by the pursuit for lower operational costs, improved process efficiency, and heightened levels of product and service innovation aimed at addressing overall needs.
While the potential benefits are clear, the continent faces a number of challenges which it will need to overcome in order to reap the benefits. One of the current challenges is the lack of consolidated standards. There are also concerns around the security and privacy of the data being collected, as well as maturity of the regulatory frameworks. Other challenges impacting Africa’s IoT landscape include IT budgets and priorities, the dependence on stakeholders, and the shift in mindset that is required to drive digital transformation on the continent.
These challenges are vast and need to be addressed for healthcare and eHealth to evolve. GE has already committed 2 billion to develop IoT capacity across all its customers’ machines, including healthcare. It seems that eHealth with IoT in Africa has exciting possibilities ahead.
- 807 views
- March 09, 2016
- Lesley Dobson
How can Africa expand its broadband for health?
Yesterday, eHNA reported on Africa’s broadband challenges. It seems that Africa’s not alone. The UK, despite being ahead of Africa, has its own challenges. What are the lessons for Africa?
The UK’s Institute of Directors (IoD) published Ultrafast Britain, it’s remedy to the UK’s digital divide with Europe. It has some of the worst broadband speeds in the developed world, least reliable broadband in rural and urban areas and patchy mobile coverage. Investing to fix it needs to achieve two goals:
- Immediate improvement, including peak capacity of 3.6 times the average hourly rate
- Future proofing to meet growing demand partly fuelled by better supply, increased video use and the Internet of Things (IoT).
These should be Africa’s goals too, but expanded to reflect a growth in cloud computing, which will be more common and routine in the future, and may have a much bigger role in Africa’s eHealth. The IoD report sees business growth expanding in several sectors, such as rail and sir travel. In Africa, eHealth’s expanding too.
An important theme was emphasised in the report’s launch: broadband solutions have no silver bullet and one size doesn’t fit all. The mix proposed for the UK’s:
- Fibre to and for homes, Fibre to the Home (FTTH)
- Fibre to and for businesses, Fibre to the Business (FTTB)
- WiFi and satellite for mobility.
This doesn’t fit Africa very well. Remote and rural homes can be many miles away from urban centres. It does offer a way to create an appropriate mix. If WiFI and satellite’s seen as needed for mobility, it can support rural and remote homes and businesses to give an African mix of:
- FTTH for urban homes
- FTTH, WiFi and satellite for rural and remote homes, depending on their remoteness
- FTTB for urban businesses
- FTTB, WiFi and satellite for rural and remote businesses, depending on their remoteness
- WiFi and satellite for mobility.
Once it’s installed, fibre’s 20% to 30% cheaper to upgrade and maintain than copper. It offers the most affordable solution. That doesn’t mean that it’s easily affordable. Aerial fibre uses telegraph lines, where they’re in place, offers a lower cost than digging trenches for fibre.
Financing this can rely extensively, but not entirely on the private sector. The IoD says that for rural areas, the Return on Investment (ROI) to suppliers isn’t attractive when FTTH opportunities remain in urban areas. For Africa’s event more rural and remote communities, government spending’s a requirement, but limited by affordability constraints. A long-term investment plan’s needed.
For super-fast broadband, the UK’s in a bid of a competition bind. Four big suppliers, BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin dominate about 95% of supply. Smaller firms take a shrinking 5%. This’s a supply model African countries should try to avoid. One way to do this is to engage smaller, local and national firms in supplying Internet and broadband services to rural and remote communities.
How long will this take? The UK sees 2030 as the horizon. African countries are usually bigger, with more dispersed populations and bigger affordability constraints. An investment horizon well beyond 2030 seems inevitable. Two drivers for faster change are:
- Financial support from aid agencies
- Matching investment against IoT and IoT for health priorities.
New opportunities from IoT for health need new eHealth strategies. This’s the starting point for Africa’s health systems to take new opportunities alongside accelerating business investment in broadband. It’s a challenge that needs sustainable, affordable investment year on year.
- 508 views
- March 08, 2016
- Tom Jones
GE's investing in IoT for health
Machines are chatty, at least many of them are with each other. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables them to talk digital and transfer data to other machines with the IoT capabilities. GE has lots of these types of machines used in healthcare, such as telepathology and radiology. At the recent Africa Healthcare Summit 2016, GE Healthcare Africa CEO, Faried Fezoua, reminded the audience that it’s already committed to spending $2b to develop IoT capacity across all its customers’ machines, including healthcare.
It’s investment in IoT for health’s based on a core requirement that utilising data in healthcare machines provides information for healthcare professionals to improve healthcare for patients. Examples from its global surveys show that:
- Only 32% of nurses say their hospitals’ are excellent at capturing patient safety data
- 59% of nurses say their hospitals’ where patient safety data’s collected and reported, there’s no follow-up
- 47% have seen a near-miss that wasn’t reported during the previous year
- 39% have seen and adverse event that wasn’t reported during the previous year
- Only 8% of nurses describe their patient safety systems as innovative.
There’s a lot to do to bring these performances up to a high standard. IoT for health offers a way forward to both innovate process, and avoid the need for extra healthcare workers to deal with the collection, reporting and action. GE’s report on Industrial Internet Insights Report for 2015 sets these out. GE wants to develop its IoT for health in close collaboration with its users to ensure success. Africa can benefit directly as it has few legacy systems to replace, making an IoT investment cheaper, faster, providing lower risks and higher net benefits. eHNA’s tracking this.
- 729 views
- March 01, 2016
- Tom Jones
Tanzania has a new diabetes management device
Diabetes is a huge and growing problem, and the costs to society are high and escalating. The disease’s reaching epidemic proportions the world over, so includes Africa. In 2013, approximately 19.6 million people suffered from diabetes in Africa, says the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). It estimates that there’ll be more people suffering, around 41.5 million by 2035.
In 2013, Tanzania had 1.7 million people living with diabetes, the fourth highest in Africa. To address the problem, the country’s launching an innovative device to help people with diabetes manage their condition better.
Thousands of Tanzanians with diabetes will now be able to send their glucose levels to doctors using a smart technology device introduced by Cumii International to ensure efficient diabetes management. The device will be launched within the next month, says an article in All Africa.
It’ll utilise the Internet of Things (IOT), It’s expected to revolutionise the existing smart technology market in Tanzania, as it provides a practical and essential solution to consumers in both urban and rural areas.
Norman Moyo, the CEO of Cumii International, said he’s excited about the possibilities of IoT. "Africa is on the threshold of a new era of innovation and change with the convergence of industry powered by computing, analytics, low cost sensing and higher level of connectivity. This is bringing a profound transformation to many aspects of daily life and our ways of working".
Tanzania is part of Cumii International's key Pan African markets that includes Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, DRC, Uganda and Nigeria rolling out connected services as part of its suite of IOT services in Africa.
- 1,177 views
- February 29, 2016
- Lesley Dobson
Is IoT changing Africa's eHealth opportunities in a big way?
Machines that send data to each other embody some core features of science fiction, but they’re here now and expanding. The Internet of Things (IoT) has much to offer Africa’s health systems, and the opportunities are expanding. Many of these were highlighted at the African Healthcare Summit.
While IoT for health’s a relatively new phenomenon, an important theme’s that Africa’s health systems can move towards it by building from existing eHealth. Telepathology and teleradiology already contain data that a wider range of machines can transfer routinely to each other directly, and provide rich sources of data for analytics for both surveillance of communities and more personalised care for individuals. The Summit revealed that eHealth’s long awaited paradigm shift’s arriving with IoT.
Most of Africa’s eHealth strategies don’t provide for this yet. With the opportunities approaching rapidly, strategies need reviewing to incorporate IoT for health. The themes are:
- What do Africa’s health systems need to do to be ready for IoT for health?
- What are Africa’s health systems’ information priorities for IoT for health?
- How do Africa’s health systems realise the benefits from IoT for health?
Acfee’s setting in place a new, long-term work programme to heighten the new significance of IoT for health. It includes providing health systems with insights and information as they emerge. It’s a theme that eHNA’ll be returning to frequently.
- 633 views
- February 22, 2016
- Tom Jones
Philips partners with Amazon to expand digital health solutions
Philips and Amazon have joined forces to connect millions of devices to the Internet of Things (IoT) using Amazon Web Services (AWS). An article in Med Device Online says the deal extends the health data management connectivity and capability of Philips own HealthSuite digital platform.
“Our HealthSuite digital platform and its device cloud are already managing more than seven million connected, medical-grade and consumer devices, sensors, and mobile apps. With the addition of AWS IoT, we will greatly accelerate the pursuit of our vision. It will be easier to acquire, process, and act upon data from heterogeneous devices in real-time. Our products, and the care they support, are enabled to grow smarter and more personalized over time,” says Jeroen Tas, CEO Healthcare Informatics, Solutions and Services, Philips.
For data from unrelated devices to interact securely with each other, device manufacturers have to create expensive new systems. AWS IoT is a cost effective alternative that provides a "pay-as-you-go service that handles the heavy lifting." The system makes these devices interoperable and allows for better managing of the continuous stream of data they create.
"The digital health revolution and the power of the Internet of Things offer tremendous opportunities to positively transform how care is delivered," said Tas in a separate release. "By unleashing data from connected devices and health records, combined with analytics, valuable insights into how we can live and age well can be uncovered.”
Philips introduced its initial series of personal health programmes where consumers can use health devices, related apps, and a cloud-based data analysis performed by HealthSuite in Germany last month. The devices include a health watch, blood pressure monitor, body analysis scale, and ear thermometer.
Philips claims that, every year, over 275 million hospital patients are monitored by Philips equipment, and it sells the same number of consumer appliances into homes across the world. This new partnership should have global implications for eHealth, so Africa.
- 644 views
- October 23, 2015
- Lesley Dobson
IoTSF to tackle IoT's cyber-vulnerabilities
Cyber-security’s an increasing priority. The Internet of Things (IoT) hasn’t escaped it. eHNA’s already reported on the growing demand for better IoT security. The Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) was set up today. It’s an initiative of more than 30 major suppliers of IoT services and products are eager to ensure that their IoT devices aren’t vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
IoTSF has a clear view:
- IoT’s economic impact will be measured in $trillions
- The number of connected devices will be measured in billions
- The resultant benefits of a connected society are significant, disruptive and transformational
- Alongside the opportunities are fears and concerns about the IoT security
- IoTSF’s goal’s to respond to the concerns.
You can register with IoTSF on its website and sign up to its newsletter. It’s an important initiative.
- 547 views
- September 23, 2015
- Tom Jones
Whose data is it anyway?
Ownership’s not a trivial matter. The play Whose Life is it Anyway? by Brian Clark in the 1970s explored decisions about euthanasia. Now, we also have the question of whose data is it?
Like all new technology, there are benefits and costs. In an interview in Harvard Business Review (HBR), Prof Pentland, from the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says for Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), success depends on an assumption that the data generated by Internet companies and dispersed devices belongs to the organisations collecting it. What if it doesn’t?
Prof Pentland suggests that companies don’t own the data, so without rules specifying who does, consumers and regulators will have their own, different views on ownership and inhibit progress. Guidelines and rules are needed so people can control data about them. Some of his principles to achieve this include:
- People have a right to know
- Transparency’s key
- Don’t hamper innovation
- Treat data like money
- Make sure it scales.
As African’s move ahead slowly to improve eHealth regulation, it’s important they take account of principles like these in framing and setting their specific eHealth legislation and regulations.
- 805 views
- September 09, 2015
- Tom Jones
IoT expansion needs security measures
Malicious intruders already know how to flout the security of the Internet of Things (IoT), but IoT’s forecast expansion may just add more security holes for cyber criminals to exploit.
- Know what you've signed up for, understand how it operates, what data it’s collecting, why it’s being collected and where its stored
- Avoid the market rush, build in, and maintain security from the start
- Test, don't guess, so you know and understand the assets on your network and weaknesses across your IoT environment in embedded devices, interface applications, back-end services, Application Programming Interfaces (API), cloud clusters and the connections in between
- Hold vendors accountable if you're buying IoT, vet their security as you would your own and ask them what they do to ensure the security of your IoT, then demonstrate it
- Practice defence in-depth, so IoT’s not the endpoint, but an entire ecosystem that needs a thorough set of security measures, including authentication controls, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection, intrusion prevention, web application firewalls, incident monitoring, patching and incident response.
As Africa’s health systems approach IoT investment, it has time to put these measures in place to minimise their risk exposures. It can become routine good practice.
- 505 views
- September 04, 2015
- Tom Jones
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