[Column] Llewellyn le Hané: Namibia poises to embrace the new 'smartified' world
The digital revolution has well and truly been embraced by Namibia and Namibians. Apart from spending most of our time online on social media, we are now seeing a shift to real world benefits enabled through connectivity. Whether it is simply paying for our food, fuel, shopping or services with an app on your phone with PAY TODAY or PULSE, order your groceries online and deliver to your doorstep with Oshapama, or hailing a taxi through a new app like LEFA. The future is definitely here and nothing will ever be the same.
Namibians always come back from abroad telling of exotic applications that allow you to pay for parking, order food or bring pretty much anything right to your doorstep with the click of a few buttons. There are vending machines, refrigerators and voice-activated devices that let you simply by voice-command order things online, play music or request a streaming TV-series or movie. These smart, or internet enabled devices all make up a concept called the Internet of Things (IoT); The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. This is one of many definitions of this term, but it covers what IoT is in a nutshell.
Imagine a world where both at home and at work there are now objects that have become ‘smart’…or ‘smartified’…as I like to call it. A luggage tag that can track and trace where it is because it can send and receive data. Smart locks that means people no longer have to carry keys, or a smart thermostat which knows and monitors how many people are in a room and can adjust accordingly. Warehouses with smart labels for products. These labels could monitor ‘best before dates’, climate control, stock control and take human error out of the equation. As well as make the logistical chain a lot more effective as the different links in the chain can communicate with each other and ensure everything is working at its optimal rate according to data sent and received.
Simply smartifying an object just because you can, makes no sense. The printers and copying machines are often already smart, knowing when the ink is going to run out and either ordering more itself or sending the necessary information to the office manager. Every day more products, gadgets and equipment come on the market that now have internet connectivity. A quick Google search shows just how embedded this technology already is. However, as always, these products only help in making our lives easier if they work.
This means that we need to have a stable Internet-connection. Not just at home, in the office or factory, but pretty everywhere we go. ‘Smartified’ products that cannot communicate because of connectivity issues become…well, just products. A car that has run out of petrol, just becomes a great big inanimate lump of parts. With all these IoT products, the backbone rests in servers, software, cloud storage solutions for the data traffic and this all needs to be monitored, updated and most importantly secured.
This is where organisations come in. One of the major things that people in the home and at work demand is a seamless and pain-free experience when it comes to using the Internet. That means it needs to be stable, fast and on-demand…as in available right now this second. We have become impatient as Internet speeds have increased. This means that the devices are constantly being tweaked, improved and become more stable. Giving this seamless experience and having consumers be able to benefit from smart devices and the profusion of IoT means starting with a solid foundation. The right software, right hardware, right system integrators and essentially the right and high quality products need to be in place as does the fast stable Internet as mentioned earlier.
If all of this is in place, the benefits of connected devices can help make Namibia a technologically advanced society and aid in building our economy our education system and most importantly our people. Not just in the towns and cities, but all across the 14 regions of the Land of the Brave. It is definitely time to embrace the Internet of Things and experience and enjoy the benefits that connected devices can bring us.