European IoT technology set to boost Silk Road connectivity

By Cecily Liu in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-01 17:38

Projects that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative should soon be more efficient, thanks to a new internet of things (also known as IoT) program launched by France's Actility and Switzerland's Ginko Ventures.

The program began on Monday with the launch of a test network spanning 23 kilometers in the Beilin district of Xi'an city, the point in China where the ancient Silk Road trade route began. During its trial period, the program will use IoT technology to improve city planning and environmental monitoring.

The test network will collect environmental sector data, such as the amount of medical waste produced by hospitals, which will allow the Beilin District Environmental Protection Bureau to make more targeted policies.

After the trial period ends, the technology will be taken to other economies in the region covered by the Belt and Road Initiative. One example of its application is the use of smart sensors to track the location and condition of exports as they travel through the region covered by the Belt and Road Initiative, improving the efficiency of logistics.

Mike Mulica, the CEO of Actility, said: "This network in Xi'an is the first step toward a global-scale cargo tracking and monitoring solution and all powered by the internet of things."

Actility and Ginko Ventures are deploying the technology through their joint venture ThingPark China, a wholly foreign-owned company based in Beijing that was established in March.

ThingPark China CEO, Bing Liu said: "IoT connectivity will play an integral role in building the Silk Road into a modern-day transport corridor, as digital transformation is a vital part of modern infrastructure projects, and the benefits of the network will soon be felt on both a regional and a global scale."

The tremendous potential of IoT technology for projects in the Belt and Road area has attracted the interest of many international technology companies that are keen to collaborate. Among them, Inmarsat, a UK satellite company that signed an agreement in 2015 during President Xi Jinping's visit to the UK. The deal with the China Transport Telecommunication and Information Center means the company will deliver its satellite broadband communications connectivity throughout China and countries within the Belt and Road area.

Paul Gudonis, president of Inmarsat Enterprise, said he will travel to Beijing late this month to meet with representatives from ThingPark China, to discuss potential collaboration.

Examples of ways Inmarsat's technology could be used include for satellite monitoring to identify safe and secure mining extraction methods and locations, identifying logistics optimization, and picking ideal locations for sustainable food plantations.

The internet of things is the concept that advocates the connection of physical objects via the internet and was first suggested in the 1980s.

Accenture estimates that the industrial IoT sector could add$14.2 trillion to the world economy by 2030.



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