Telstra is making strides with Internet of Things
Telstra is Australia’s Internet of Things (IoT) front runner, with several trials and services in the IoT space over the years and impressive IoT offerings. With everything from consumer IoT services like smart homes and smart watches, to larger scale IoT deployments in agriculture, healthcare, and more, Telstra obviously sees promise in the field.
Chances are that this is common knowledge to many, but what are the specifics? What exactly are Telstra doing with the IoT, and how can they eventually benefit Australia? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more.
What is the IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) deals with Internet connections aiding communication between things to help gather data about them. These things could literally be anything that is being measured or observed.
Let’s try to get more specific with an example. Say a city wants to monitor how much garbage is being contained in each garbage can in a particular neighborhood, so that they know which garbage can needs to be emptied out. This saves the city time in attacking only those garbage cans that are full, making their service more efficient.
The IoT would be able to help in such a case. Each garbage can would be fitted with a sensor of some sort, that monitors the garbage level. That sensor will be connected to a central station via the Internet. The sensor will report its gathered data via the cloud, which will be accessed by the central station, where observations and decisions can be made based on that data.
That is the IoT – things connected by the Internet to enable them share valuable data. In these cases, a sensor or some sort would be involved to help gather the data in question.
Telstra sees the impact the IoT will have in the future
No other Australian telco addresses the IoT as much as Telstra. A quick look at their website shows how vested their interests are in the technology. This should not come as a surprise, given the wide range of industries the IoT can serve.
Here’s a look at some of Telstra’s IoT initiatives so far:
- Hyper-local weather network for Australia’s farmers
Australia is huge land-wise – comparable to the United States. However, Australia’s population is quite small – less than one-tenth of the United States. This means there are parts of Australia which lack accurate local weather reports. Such areas rely on a more general weather report that isn’t specific to their actual location.
In such cases, farmers suffer the consequences. Without accurate local weather reports, farmers can’t plan and make decisions according to the weather before it is too late.
Telstra aims to solve this problem with a new IoT project being tested in Quensland in partnership with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Pessl Instruments and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The project will see 55 IoT-enabled weather stations deployed in Telstra mobile network sites, private farms and DAF research facilities.
Those 55 weather stations will serve as collection points, which will provide specific, hyper-local data about the weather in the particular area. Farmers will have access to the accurate weather data to plan accordingly. And after the test, the data will be used by the BoM to develop those hyper-local weather reports.
- Telstra’s Track and Monitor used in hospital
Another example of Telstra’s IoT ambitions is Track and Monitor, which is meant to help business track moving assets onsite and offsite, so they can better manage their products and reduce costs.
But Telstra went a step further when they deployed the Track and Monitor platform at the Ballarat Health Services and Coregas, a division of the Wesfarmers Group. There, they faced a problem with hospital equipment being misplaced or going missing.
This is critical a critical problem for healthcare facilities, because a patient might need one of those missing equipment at any given time. Having to search for them is time consuming, taking away from the time needed to treat patients.
Telstra mapped the facility and fitted their Track and Monitor to various medical equipment. The hospital’s WiFi was used as the Internet to allow the data to be fed back. The tracker was the size of a 50 cent coin – so small and unnoticeable. Whenever equipment was moved, hospital staff could track it down to within 10 metres, saving them time and perhaps even saving a patient.
Final words – other telcos need to get on board
Telstra is making tremendous headway in the IoT space, and industry observers are taking note. In fact, Telstra’s Track and Monitor platform described above won the 2019 IoT Festival award for the best healthcare project. And Telstra’s IoT projects stre
But the other major telcos – Optus and TPG Telecom (Vodafone) – are not as invested in the IoT. Where Telstra launches project after project, other telcos merely even talk about IoT in a larger sense beyond smart watches and the likes. For Australia to make leaps and bounds in the IoT space, the other major telcos would need to get on board with a more serious approach to the IoT.