IoT Possibility and Challenges in Bangladesh context
We are on the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Smart technologies are taking us to a world that has tremendous opportunities for everybody. With opportunity there comes challenges also. We have to make sure that we overcome challenges to take advantage and grab our fair share of the opportunity.
What is IoT?
Though almost all of us have heard about IoT, some of us are not sure what exactly IoT is. IoT stands for the “Internet of Things” that is a network of humanless devices and components. Very often with IoT, we mean IoT devices. A physical or digital device or system that is connected to the Internet and sends data without human help or interventions. Normally IoT devices have a connection with one or more sensors or actuators. Sensors are electronic components that can measure one or more environmental parameters. For example, a temperature sensor can read your body temperature. Actuators are components that are used to move or control anything. An example of an actuator can be a robotic hand or component of a robotic hand. Sometimes these devices data directly to a server over the internet or sometimes one device sends data to another device and that second or parent device sends the data to the internet. Examples of IoT devices are Alexa The Internet Connected Speaker, Smart home, smart building, remotely controlled AC, Connected Industry, Air quality monitoring station, Weather monitoring station, Industrial monitoring system, etc.
IoT has reached everywhere in the modern world. Using IoT smart kitchen system you can monitor gas usage in the smart stove and optimize the gas usage with IoT connected smart gas stove. Remotely it also checks for leakage and safety hazards and notifies the user. Again the stove can be controlled remotely.
In smart home applications, lots of sensors monitor room temperature, room air quality, outside air quality, outside light amount, etc to optimize the room air quality, temperature, light, and other comfort and safety parameters. Besides smart home application makes sure that your energy usage is optimized. So it has reached the bedroom, living room, and balcony.
A smart factory or connected factory leverages IoT. It has sensors connected to every important point of movement of a production chain. It monitors which machine is rotating at what speed, how is fuel, or electricity usage. How is its performance in terms of efficiency? AI connected IoT smart factory can find out which part of a manufacturing plant or industry is the cause of the slowness of your manufacturing process. Then factory owners can easily replace that portion or machine to gain overall high productivity.
Further, IoT used farming method is on the pace now. It senses real-time weather, rain and humidity condition, soil nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, ph, and other vital parameters value of the surrounding of the crops. After that, these farming IoT systems suggest when to sow your crops seedling in what amount and also automate the watering process to reduce cost and maximize production.
This way IoT has touched every sphere of life and lifting the living standard to a different level in terms of comfort, profit, and production rate.
IoT in Bangladesh:
As the world is a global village in presence of today’s technology and communication, different sectors of Bangladesh are adopting IoT quickly along with the rest of the world. Some people have already installed smart home in their house to live up to the standard. IoT enabled water quality, air quality monitoring has been established by different government organizations. BWDB, BMD, BADC, DoE, and lots of other organizations are trying to use IoT connected devices to improve different monitoring in their respected areas. Smart farming, Smart metering is further increasing day by day. Some cities are also on trial to experience smart city applications powered by IoT. Not all but some portion of connected factory application is in use in some smart industries and manufacturing plants. But we still are behind by a margin compared to the West.
The fields that can be benefited immediately from IoT in Bangladesh:
Think about sectors that contribute more to the country’s economy. They are likely the best fields to apply IoT as well as other latest innovations. If we can leverage IoT, we can have an edge over our competitors. The opposite is also true. If we do not bring technology such as IoT in those filed where we are a little ahead of other nations we are going to lose our upper hand in a shorter while.
Bangladesh is doing well in the field of garments. We have very cheap labor that is true. But if we can utilize this labor more efficiently that will certainly improve productivity. Different IoT applications can track the worker and show statistics that can help decision-makers to take important decisions more accurately. IoT smart factory, connected industry this type of application can help us to reach a position where we will be comfortably ahead of others. The western world is trying to develop an automated garment factory where the dress will be produced without any human intervention. We have enough human power. But if they really automate it, it will make things harder for us. Then again, to grow an industry you will need some supportive industry nearby. So even if they automate we will get some time before the full echo system can be established there. We can make use of this fact. We can go for a hybrid approach. Find out what are the sections of the dressmaking work by automating which we can gain higher speed in production. Then we can try to automate those sections using Artificial Intelligence-powered IoT (AIoT). On the rest of the section where human is doing great, we can keep the human workers.
Bangladesh’s agricultural sector is the sector where most of its population is making their living. Bangladesh is placed as 2nd in freshwater fish production in 2020 . The use of IoT can increase the efficiency of fish production and can take us to a place where nobody can beat us in a shorter while. Different IoT based water monitoring and environment controlling solution can increase fish production to a significant amount. Again high precision farming or precision agriculture can increase our crop productivity and increase our GDP by a substantial value.
Blue economy or ocean-based income is another promising sector that we can make use of IoT. Bangladesh has a vast possibility in the blue economy. 16% of the total fish production of our country is from the sea . Alarmingly there is a dead zone found in the Bay of Bengal. This dead zone is 60000 square kilometers in size. This region of the sea does not have enough oxygen for fish to survive. Though most of this dead zone is inside India’s marine boundary Bangladesh also has a portion of it. We need IoT based monitoring and research to track the dead zone and find out the problem and solution. Most importantly we need to make sure it does not further move to our marine boundary. If it does certainly that will reduce our fish production and lots of people from the coastal areas will be jobless.
The traffic problem in Dhaka is known to everyone. Smart city applications can be used to minimize traffic problems and save people’s effective time. There are lots of other sectors where specific domain experts can suggest improvement using IoT.
Stats that Inspire us:
Some stats of the IoT market that can inspire us towards IoT
- In 2016—the global spending on the IoT was $737 billion
- In 2018—the North American IoT market generated $83.9 billion in revenue
- During 2020—global spending on the IoT should reach $1.29 trillion
- By 2021—the industrial IoT market size should reach $124 billion
- By 2024—the global IoT healthcare market should reach $14 billion
- By 2026—Experts estimate that the IoT device market will reach $1.1 trillion
IoT security the first challenge:
As I said earlier great opportunity comes with great challenge. Though IoT seems to be the key to the digital future, it also brings some insurmountable challenges with it. Digital Security is the single most significant challenge of those challenges. The cybersecurity problem is nothing new but for IoT, it has a more terrible effect. How is that? Let’s understand by example. Previously for cybersecurity say you have a website where people do blogging. If it is hacked 2 to 3 days your blog is down. You clean everything reset the password and set it up again. But in case you have an IoT enabled home or industry this will not be the same. If a smart home is hacked, a malicious user can take control of it. He can turn on your room heater continuously to set your house on fire. He can use your baby monitor camera to monitor you. Hackers can find the location of your car and track you on the road to hijack you to the point by a previous well-planned route analysis. A friendly hacker can hijack your smart farming solution and water it too much so that all your crops are dead before they have even grown to size.
Another example can be cybercrime by industrial nations. Say there is country-A who pollute the air so much with their industry. Another country B is located near country-A. Country-B has 100 air quality monitoring stations all over their country. If these IoT stations are not security hack-proof these data can be modified by country-A to look like clean air by a simple man in the middle attack. Country-B then will never find that what bad impact country A is putting on country B’s air pollution. So now maybe you are thinking, is it happening to us? You may also think that people are not really this bad. If you are thinking the second one just go to a CIRT website https://www.cirt.gov.bd/incident-reporting/statistics/ and see a stat of how much cyber attack happens every day.
What else? If your industrial IoT(IIoT) application is compromised it can be another Stuxnet event. Stuxnet a computer worm first uncovered in 2010 made by an unknown nation for attacking Iran, infected 2,00,000 computers and ruined 1000 advance machines! Experts who researched Stuxnet concluded that it cannot be made by a small team or small effort but it has to be inspired by a government. Though it was for the Industrial Control System now IoT is getting involved in those places.
What is the solution?:
Though IoT is one of the toughest sectors to secure in the field of digital security, it is not impossible. We have to make sure that we deploy IoT solutions that are secure, certified, and authorized. Even if it is not certified the organization or person adopting it should verify it with a digital security expert or private organization. Not necessary that it has to be a government organization but also it can be a private organization that you can trust.
IoT security is a major area of research and along with a typical but proven cybersecurity solution, there are also new ways that are coming to secure IoT once and for a big while. Blockchain-based IoT security is one of the leading new ways to protect IoT. Further, we have to explore new ways. In addition, to be successful in IoT we have to do well in hardware. To ensure IoT is used in every sector of Bangladesh we need to make sure we can produce our own. Otherwise, we cannot adopt it at a faster rate. Not all IoT application is probably feasible to produce by a single country. But we can try to produce as many categories as possible by assessing the impact and importance of those devices and keeping our capability in mind. Thanks to GOD, Bangladesh has a young generation that is making its mark on international ICT competitions like ACM ICPC, International Math Olympiad, International Blockchain Olympiad, etc. We have cheap labor that is a must for producing IoT devices on a large scale. We have a government that wants digitalization. Combining all of these we can gain an unprecedented position in IoT development adoption and exporting. If we are able to do it, we believe our economy will be one of the brightest digital economies in the world.
Other things that can be a positive catalyst:
When we pursue developing IoT on a large scale for accelerating our economy we would certainly have to focus on some other technology that is also disrupting and work side by side with IoT. Some of those are Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Big data analysis, Hardware development, Embedded system development, etc. They are like fitness necessary to run for IoT race. I believe Quantum computers can be a key to future security ruler. We need expert ready and loaded on this field too. The government is making an investment in these fields for some time now. But we do not see enough private sector investment in these advanced computing fields. In addition, different government and private organizations also need to make habit of using local IoT solutions rather than costly foreign products to inspire the local entrepreneurs.
Bangladesh is a digital inclined nation and making progress towards information technology at mentionable speed. Our government is determined to make us a digital nation. So we want to adopt IoT as fast as possible to be a digital economy dependent country. Otherwise, we will not be able to take a fair share of the 4IR (Fourth industrial revolution). We have to make sure whatever IoT we are adopting is authenticated by an expert team or organization or personnel. What we need is secure IoT, not just IoT. We have to keep in mind that IoT can be a weapon to secure a place in the future. But insecure IoT is a weapon that will only harm ourselves.
MD Badsha Molla
CIRT Systems and Web Administrator
BGD e-GOV CIRT