Can AI and Edge Build the Smart Cities We Dream Of?

Can AI and Edge Build the Smart Cities We Dream Of?

Dr Mazlan Abbas, CEO of FAVORIOT, envisions a future powered by Smart Cities and Generative AI. He discusses the challenges and opportunities in this interview.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionising the way we interact with the world around us. From smart homes to connected cities, the possibilities seem endless. But where are we headed next? In this interview, Dr Mazlan Abbas, CEO and Co-founder of FAVORIOT, an innovative IoT platform provider, sheds light on the most promising applications of IoT in the coming decade and shares his vision for building smart cities of the future.

Excerpts from the interview;

What are the most promising and impactful applications of IoT in the next decade?

The last ten years have brought significant advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) field, particularly within smart home environments for consumers and industrial applications.

Nonetheless, looking towards the future, one of the most promising and potentially transformative applications of IoT technology lies in the development of Smart Cities.

Smart Cities promise to revolutionise how we live, work, and interact with our urban environments. They have the potential to deliver efficient, sustainable, and community-centric services, from traffic management to waste disposal, energy use, and even public safety. Many countries have embarked on Smart City initiatives, but success has been varied. The challenges are multifaceted, often involving complex coordination with local authorities and stakeholders and overcoming financial and infrastructural barriers.

To realise the vision of Smart Cities, a coherent strategy is needed that includes clear leadership, often termed the Smart City Champion, effective project management, and secured funding avenues. Such a strategy should ensure that IoT technologies are integrated to align with the city’s overarching goals and meet its inhabitants’ needs.

Moreover, the increasing focus on global Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria will likely catalyse IoT adoption in urban environments. As cities strive to meet these ESG objectives, IoT can provide the tools necessary for monitoring and managing resources more effectively, promoting sustainability.

In essence, if we can successfully navigate the intricacies of implementing IoT within the context of urban development, Smart Cities equipped with IoT technologies could become a reality worldwide. These technologically integrated cities could then serve as hubs of innovation, efficiency, and sustainability, setting a new standard for urban living in the decades to come.

Where do you see untapped opportunities for innovation and growth within the IoT ecosystem?

We are seeing the integration of several emerging technologies that are key to a new set of innovation and growth. Unifying IoT with artificial intelligence, specifically Generative AI, presents a largely untapped wellspring of opportunity.

Historically, IoT has been focused primarily on data collection and the presentation of this data through historical dashboards. The utility of such systems was inherently limited to reactive measures, providing insights into past events rather than offering predictive or prescriptive analytics. 

However, with the advent of sophisticated AI algorithms and particularly deep learning techniques, the scope for proactive and intelligent decision-making within IoT solutions has greatly expanded.

Generative AI, which refers to algorithms that generate new content based on existing data, has seen explosive growth and application in various domains, revolutionising how we approach creativity and problem-solving. Despite its widespread influence, Generative AI has yet to be fully leveraged within the IoT ecosystem.

Envisioning the future, integrating Generative AI within IoT could lead to systems that not only predict potential issues before they occur but also prescribe solutions and generate novel strategies to optimise performance. 

For example, when combined with Generative AI, an IoT-equipped manufacturing facility could predict equipment failures and autonomously generate maintenance schedules or design changes to mitigate downtime.

Moreover, the IoT ecosystem could benefit from Generative AI in areas such as energy management. AI could generate energy consumption models that adapt to usage patterns and environmental factors, thus enabling smarter energy grids. 

As IoT devices proliferate and become more interconnected, the potential for Generative AI to play a pivotal role in the ecosystem becomes even more pronounced. It could drive innovation in creating more robust, self-improving systems that learn and evolve without constant human oversight. This represents a frontier within the IoT space ripe for exploration and will likely become a focal point for investment and development in the coming years.

How will the rise of edge computing impact IoT development, particularly in relation to FAVORIOT’s work?

The rise of edge computing is set to significantly influence the evolution and execution of IoT solutions, aligning with the efforts and direction of companies like FAVORIOT. Edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, improving response times and saving bandwidth. This shift from centralised and cloud-based operations to the edge of the network addresses two critical challenges in IoT deployments: the high costs associated with cloud computing and the substantial bandwidth required for transmitting vast amounts of data.

FAVORIOT’s work in providing an alternative on-premise IoT platform indicates the synergies with edge computing. By leveraging edge computing, FAVORIOT can optimise its IoT solutions for greater affordability and efficiency. IoT devices processing and analysing data locally, rather than relying on distant servers, can operate independently and react quickly to real-time data. This means that edge computing can enable more rapid and reliable outcomes for applications requiring immediate decision-making – such as autonomous vehicles, health monitoring systems, and industrial automation.

Moreover, edge computing can enhance security and privacy since sensitive data can be processed locally, reducing the exposure to potential breaches during transit to the cloud. For FAVORIOT, this could mean that their on-premise IoT platform can offer enhanced data protection to their clients, which is especially important for industries handling sensitive information.

Another dimension where edge computing influences IoT solutions is scalability. As the number of IoT devices continues to skyrocket, the strain on network infrastructure can become a bottleneck. The need for continuous data transmission to the cloud is reduced by processing data on the edge, thereby lessening the load on network resources and facilitating scalability.

Furthermore, edge computing can enable FAVORIOT’s solutions to function more reliably in environments with limited or intermittent connectivity. This is particularly beneficial in remote industrial settings or developing regions where high-speed internet access is not always available or consistent.

In the context of FAVORIOT’s work, adopting edge computing can lead to more customisable and adaptable IoT solutions tailored to their client’s specific needs. It allows for creation of decentralised systems that are both more efficient and cost-effective and more robust and secure. The combination of FAVORIOT’s on-premise IoT platform with the capabilities of edge computing positions the company to offer competitive and cutting-edge solutions that meet the growing and evolving demands of the IoT landscape.

Could you outline FAVORIOT’s core technology, unique features, and advantages?

FAVORIOT IoT middleware platform is designed to streamline and expedite the deployment of IoT projects for system integrators. This innovative IoT platform significantly reduces the development timeframe from months to mere days, marking a substantial improvement in efficiency and speed of deployment.

The core of FAVORIOT’s technology lies in its versatile IoT platform’s ability to swiftly onboard a wide array of IoT devices, manage and amalgamate the data they collect, and display this information through intuitive dashboards. The platform is equipped with robust tools that simplify the management of diverse devices, regardless of their make or model, ensuring seamless operation within the IoT ecosystem.

One of the platform’s unique features is its dual offering: FAVORIOT provides both public and on-premise versions of its IoT platform. This dual approach ensures clients can opt for the cloud-based public platform for easy access and scalability. Alternatively, they can select the on-premise platform for enhanced control, security, and performance, which is particularly vital for operations that demand stringent data governance and low-latency processing.

The public platform version allows for quick setup and remote management, ideal for system integrators looking to deploy solutions with minimal infrastructure investment. On the other hand, the on-premise platform is optimised for organisations that require dedicated systems on their premises, often for data sensitivity, regulatory compliance, or operational autonomy.

FAVORIOT’s approach offers a comprehensive and flexible solution to the complex challenges of IoT integration. By providing an agile platform that supports a wide range of devices and applications, FAVORIOT empowers system integrators to deliver bespoke IoT solutions that are both scalable and secure. The efficiency of the platform not only saves time and resources but provides a competitive edge in rapidly evolving digital landscapes where adaptability and speed are key.

How does FAVORIOT ensure project sustainability and foster local capacity in served communities?

FAVORIOT’s strategy for ensuring the long-term sustainability of its IoT projects hinges on cultivating a robust ecosystem of IoT developers who can adeptly utilise its platform across various applications. Recognising that a comprehensive IoT solution encompasses devices, connectivity, and application development, FAVORIOT places significant emphasis on fostering partnerships and skill development within this ecosystem.

FAVORIOT engages with educational institutions to build local capacity and ownership, providing IoT training programs for universities and graduates. By integrating its IoT platform into academic curricula and research projects, FAVORIOT not only aids in the practical education of future IoT professionals but also establishes a foundation for continuous innovation within the local communities it serves. 

This educational initiative helps ensure that upcoming talents are well-versed in using FAVORIOT’s platform, thereby expanding the pool of skilled professionals who can contribute to the IoT ecosystem.

Furthermore, FAVORIOT’s commitment to community feedback is a cornerstone of its development process. By maintaining an open channel for suggestions and insights from its user base—particularly those from the academic and industrial sectors—FAVORIOT can continuously refine and enhance its platform. This feedback loop is critical in evolving the platform to meet the changing needs of its users and staying ahead of industry trends.

The company’s multifaceted approach provides the technical backbone for IoT solutions and invests in the human capital that will drive the IoT industry forward. Through training and collaboration, FAVORIOT is building a sustainable model that supports the immediate needs of IoT projects and contributes to the growth and advancement of the communities in which it operates. This strategy ensures that the projects FAVORIOT initiates today will continue to thrive, adapt, and remain relevant.

How does FAVORIOT collaborate with government agencies, NGOs, and private companies to achieve goals?

FAVORIOT’s approach to achieving its objectives is deeply rooted in collaboration and thought leadership within the broader IoT ecosystem. The company actively participates in industry associations such as the Malaysia Smart City Alliance Association (MSCA), Malaysia IoT Association (MyIOTA), and Malaysia Technical Standards Berhad (MTSB). These platforms enable FAVORIOT to connect with diverse stakeholders, including government bodies, private sector entities, and academic institutions.

By engaging with these various groups, FAVORIOT positions itself as a service provider, thought leader, and expert in IoT solutions and education. The company’s involvement in speaking engagements and forums allows it to disseminate its knowledge and share its experiences, thereby influencing the development of IoT strategies and policies across different sectors.

FAVORIOT’s active role in these associations and its presence on speaking platforms serve multiple purposes. Firstly, it helps the company to stay at the forefront of IoT developments, ensuring its solutions are aligned with the latest industry standards and practices. Secondly, it allows FAVORIOT to contribute to shaping the IoT landscape by providing insights and feedback that can influence policy-making and standard-setting. 

Finally, these interactions facilitate partnerships and collaborative projects ranging from smart city initiatives to educational programs, expanding FAVORIOT’s impact and reinforcing its commitment to building a robust IoT community.

Through these strategic engagements, FAVORIOT not only advances its own goals but also supports the broader mission of integrating IoT technologies into various sectors for the benefit of society. This collaborative model is integral to FAVORIOT’s success and a testament to the power of partnership in driving technological advancement and adoption.