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Blockchain / Lancashire Cricket launches blockchain-secure ticketing
« on: March 04, 2020, 04:17:36 PM »
Lancashire County Cricket Club has claimed to become the first organisation in the UK to have activated blockchain secure mobile tickets for all types of domestic and international matches at the Emirates Old Trafford stadium in 2020.

It will be leveraging a new blockchain mobile tickets platform, called TIXnGO, which will aim to ensure that only genuine supporters get tickets and will help curb the problem of counterfeit merchandise.

The TIXnGO platform was finalised after the club successfully ran trials in the 2019 season. The Club introduced a variety of different ticketing technology initiatives over the course of twelve months to boost the overall member and supporter experiences, such as an official new resale platform and the use of PACIFA technology that provides supporters a three-dimensional view from their seats before buying tickets for International and Vitality Blast tickets at Emirates Old Trafford.

Recently, in the US, the Sacramento Kings collaborated with ConsenSys to introduce a new auction platform that allows users to bid live on in-game sports gear through the latter’s supply chain product Treum. Each auctioned item will be authenticated on this platform, giving fans assurance that every single gear they intend to buy is authentic.

Last October, the Dallas Mavericks became the second NBA team to accept Bitcoin payments for tickets after the Sacramento Kings. These Bitcoin transactions are handled on a blockchain platform managed by Dapper Labs. BItPay CEO Stephen Pair said that Dallas Mavericks have been an outspoken advocate for Bitcoin, opening up opportunities for the team as it starts to accept Bitcoin for ticket sales and merchandise.


Six out of 10 pharma companies are now using or experimenting with blockchain technologies, according to a new study by the not-for-profit Pistoia Alliance.

The survey of 170 life science and pharmaceutical professionals found that 60% have active interests in the technology, as compared to just 22% when asked in 2017.

However, that left 40% of respondents claiming to not be currently exploring or planning to implement any such technology.

For those that were, industry-specific opportunities included improved efficiency and accountability in the medical supply chain (30%) – ensuring an auditable trail to safeguard drug provenance – the digitalisation of medical records (25%), management of clinical trials (20%) and scientific data sharing (15%).

Most significant, though, was the benefit of blockchain for the immutable storage of data (73%). Owed to a “boom” in personal genomics, sequencing power, and ancestry services, the secure storage of data has become a significant issue, says Pistoia Alliance. Access to this kind of information is hugely valuable to companies pioneering in areas such as precision medicine therapies and cures for rare diseases.

Improved transparency, meanwhile, was deemed a key feature by over a third (39%) or respondents – perhaps unsurprisingly, giving the industry’s tight regulatory nature. Despite the roundly positive outlook, however, current rates of adoption are hindered by familiars barriers, including a lack of skilled blockchain personnel (55%) and the technology being too difficult to understand (16%).

As such, The Pistoia Alliance is hoping to build a consortium in the life science and pharmaceutical industry for the collaboration over the development and implementation of blockchain technology.

“We are currently focusing on educating scientists and researchers about the potential uses of blockchain technologies outside of the supply chain, particularly in R&D,” commented Richard Shute, a consultant for the group.

“At The Pistoia Alliance, we want to support our members’ initiatives in blockchain, as well as provide a secure global forum for partnerships and collaboration.”

Despite its efforts, the Alliance may struggle to convince all industry members of the value of blockchain, with almost a fifth (18%) of professionals believing the use of blockchain adds no value beyond a traditional database.

Earlier this year, The Block explored the viability of blockchain technology within the pharmaceuticals industry, featuring expert commentary from Maria Palombini, director, communities & initiatives development, global business strategy & intelligence, IEEE Standards Association.



Exciting advances in precision medicine over the past decade should mean you and your family are now receiving advanced levels of healthcare and disease prevention based on your genetic makeup.

Researchers and health professionals across the world should be enjoying access to a vast resource of genomic sequencing data and health records – helping them discover cures and treatments for every type of disease.

However, the reality is far different.

An ocean of data about your health and the health of others is likely to be spread across many databases. You probably have little ability to view or update this data, let alone control who has access to it.

As for genomic data, only a small percentage of people have had theirs sequenced – largely because there isn’t a secure place to hold and leverage it.

This is a tragedy. You should have the opportunity to own your health and DNA data, and to maintain total control over it. You should have up-to-date information about the diseases you are predisposed to. Every few months, your data dashboard should be updated to inform you of the latest insights scientists have about your DNA.

If you know you’re genetically predisposed to osteoporosis, you should be able to proactively take steps to avoid its onset. If you’re aware there is a high chance of being afflicted by a certain type of cancer, you should be regularly tested to ensure you can catch it early.

There are many ongoing initiatives across the globe aiming to facilitate the storage and sharing of genomic data, and thereby enable the progress of precision medicine. Health apps based on genomic and other health data are good examples. But they tend to be competing against each other and creating even more data silos.

Meanwhile, a few large businesses hold the monopoly on most genomic data, and make large profits from selling it to third parties, usually without sharing the earnings with the data donor.

This stifles research and innovation and prevents medicine and healthcare moving forward at the pace it should.

You and your doctors are being denied vital knowledge about your health, and brilliant scientists are being denied access to genomic datasets that could help them gather potentially transformational information that could lead to the eradication of diseases.

Not only is your future health being compromised by the current system, but your health data is being left vulnerable too. In the wake of major data breaches like those at Yahoo! and Equifax, it’s hard to trust any organisation with sensitive data stored on cloud databases or local servers.

The release on the internet of your data records could have huge implications on your personal relationships, your future employment, your health insurance and your general wellbeing. Cyber criminals know this, so medical data will increasingly be targeted to leverage money from health organisations and patients themselves.

It’s no wonder few people are largely unwilling to map out their DNA and risk this data being spread across the internet.

But blockchain-based technology could be the solution everyone is waiting for.

Its distributed ledger technology removes the vulnerabilities associated with cloud databases. This means it would be safe to store even the most sensitive DNA and healthcare data on the blockchain, without fear of it being stolen or misused in a cyber attack.

A centralized health data hub built on the blockchain could let you maintain full ownership of this data, allowing you to share it with health professionals.

Let’s imagine you’re visiting a specialist doctor for a consultation and tests. She would just need a laptop or mobile device to access your health data in the ecosystem – using a private key (in other words a temporary password) supplied by you. At no time would the data be stored in her own computer or cloud database. And she would only have access to your data while you were under her care.

If you wanted to share the data with a research firm, you could give them access to your data in anonymised form for a certain period, and perhaps receive a payment in exchange.

Healthcare and wellness providers such as clinics, pharmaceuticals, research organizations, governments, patient-support groups and insurance companies could join an ecosystem built around this blockchain technology.

They would no longer have to compete with each other to gather data. It would be there for them all to use – for example, to boost clinical trials or facilitate drug research and development. This data could be easily sharable and interoperable across technological, geographic, jurisdictional, and professional boundaries.

Such a system could offer patients access to applications that leverage their data and enhance their wellbeing and health – for example, nutritional and fitness advice, treatment plans, genealogy, disease predisposition, and lifestyle management.

Looking into the future, as more personalized biological information becomes available, services could be offered that are based not only on genomic data, but also other health, biological, and environmental information, facilitating new insights into disease processes.

This is an exciting time in healthcare. Soon, you’ll have the power to leverage your DNA and health data to live a longer, healthier life, while helping billions of others on the planet.

All the technologies are in place. The world just needs a suitable health data platform.


The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), in partnership with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Dubai Healthcare City among others, has launched the country’s first advanced digital platform for data storage aimed at pharmaceutical companies, health practitioners, government, and private facilities.

This digital platform, which is fundamentally powered by blockchain, has been introduced to increase the efficiency of MoHAP and other health authorities’ smart health services. The launch is part of the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which plans to integrate AI into health services. The new platform would help organise the search for health facilities, its licensed medical and technical personnel, and their expertise via the MoHAP application.

Furthermore, the project would also enhance the effectiveness of health inspectors and encourage medical tourism by providing access to integrated information on healthcare in the country.

Last month, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) introduced its own Crypto Valley ecosystem in partnership with CV VC and CV Labs. The DMCC Crypto Valley, which aims to foster growth, collaboration and integrity across the global blockchain economy, is set to offer a wide range of services that includes incubation for early-stage start-ups, co-working facilities, innovation services for corporate clients, blockchain and entrepreneurship training, education, events, mentoring and funding.

Additionally, in early January, Abu Dhabi was awarded the Guinness World Record for installing the world’s largest AR screen in London. The AR screen, which used the Piccadilly Lights digital billboard and ran across 5,904 square feet, captured images of people near the statue of Eros in the city’s Piccadilly Circus and placed them digitally by using 3D AR overlays, among some of Abu Dhabi’s most famous tourism landmarks.


Blockchain / Are we witnessing the evolution of money?
« on: March 04, 2020, 04:01:29 PM »
f you’ve looked closely at a £20 banknote lately, you may have noticed something strange. In small letters, just below the words “Bank of England” it will say: “ I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds .”

What does that really mean? If you think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. When you pay someone £20 in cash, the note itself is the payment – it’s not an IOU note. If you go to a bank and ask them to fulfill that promise, they’ll simply give you another banknote.

Evolution sometimes leaves behind features that were once useful but no longer serve a purpose. That statement on a banknote is a bit like that, and it’s an excellent place to start when we think about the evolution of money.

The history of money – a medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value – is far too vast and complicated to explain in a textbook, let alone a single article. Money developed at different times and in different ways all over the world. But we all intuitively understand why this system of debits and credits evolved in the first place.

Commodity currency

It’s very challenging for one person or family to be self-sustaining and meet all their own needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, warmth, and so on. Division of labour solves this problem. One of our greatest strengths as humans is our unrivaled ability to form groups, split tasks based on who does what best, then trade between ourselves.

The downside is that goods and services require variable amounts of time, effort, materials, and other resources. You probably wouldn’t want to trade a cow for a loaf of bread, for example.

Hence the need for a shared system that transfers value between people: money. Early currencies were often commodities like animals, salt, or textiles. These were better than barter, but still not perfect. Precious metals (mainly gold and silver) were the next step in the evolution of money.

Representative currency

Precious metals are still quite impractical: they’re heavy to carry around and can get stolen. So representative currency gradually took over.

Representative currency is essentially a receipt for precious metal. Made from inexpensive materials like paper, it represents a set value in precious metal and is issued by a centralised authority that stores the corresponding metal. The currency itself has no intrinsic value, it just represents something that does.

The Bank of England was first to release notes designed to stay in circulation, rather than temporary receipts. It opened in 1694 to finance King William III’s war against France, accepting gold deposits and issuing notes in return. Anyone who held a banknote could redeem it for the corresponding amount of precious metal. Originally, the Bank of England issued handwritten, signed notes denoting the precise value of a deposit. But they eventually started issuing fixed value notes.

So, the words “ I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds ” on a £20 note once meant that note represented £20 worth of gold. But that’s not true anymore. It’s from the time before money evolved to its current stage.

Fiat currency

Fiat currency is what you have in your wallet or bank account right now. It’s no longer backed by precious metal and has no intrinsic value. Banks realised people weren’t returning to collect their gold because banknotes were far more practical.

The value of fiat currency is based entirely on perception. As long as we believe it has value, it does. But that also means it’s inherently fragile, a house of cards liable to topple in the right circumstances.

Fiat currency – and the surrounding financial system – evolved during a non-digital age. It’s inevitable that money will evolve again. Except, the next step is likely to be something new and adapted for the modern age, not a simple modification of fiat currency.

Money has always changed to suit the needs of an ever-shifting world. Decentralised cryptocurrencies represent the next step in the evolution of money. We now have a technology with the potential to make our financial system cheaper, faster, safer, more private and yet transparent, and fairer.

Is it possible for decentralised cryptocurrencies to replace fiat? In theory, yes. Money is not about particular materials or designs or anything like that. To work as a currency, something needs to be:

● Divisible — e.g. a pound divides into pence
● Scarce- e.g. the supply of gold is limited by the amount we can mine
● Durable- e.g. modern banknotes are waterproof
● Transferable – e.g. you hand someone a banknote and it’s theirs
● Fungible – e.g. any £1 coin has the same payment value as any other.

Regardless of what it is, if it has those features and people agree on its value, it can work as a currency.

Cryptocurrencies have those features, in addition to being better adapted to the modern world. Although there’s lots of ongoing innovation in the space , Bitcoin has proven its inherent network effects. The earlier someone got involved with Bitcoin, the more they stood to profit. This created (and continues to create) a powerful incentive to start using it and grow the network. Unlike other new payment systems, this is happening naturally.

It also ticks all the right boxes as a currency. It’s divisible into units as small as one hundred millionths. The total supply is limited to 21 million which creates scarcity. Being digital, it’s durable and can’t wear out. It’s also simple to exchange between anyone, and all individual units are interchangeable.

Cryptocurrencies remain controversial because they’re new and entirely unlike the old system. But if you stay open-minded and look back at the evolution of money, it’s clear that things are going to change. The only question is how and when. People have always moved towards whatever system made the most sense at that point – and we now have a new system that’s built for the digital age.


A partner at Blockchain Capital has said he believes investors will regret not buying-in at current low prices.

We’re a few days into an uncharacteristic bull run (for this year, at least) in the crypto market, and there’s definitely a more positive sentiment around – though it could be that holiday cheer.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Fast Money” segment, Spencer Bogart emphasised his bullish outlook:

“Could Bitcoin go to $50,000? Absolutely. It doesn’t have the same kind of price-to-earnings, enterprise value to revenue that normally puts a kind of upper bound or a ceiling on a typical early-stage technology company.

How long will it take? I’m not sure.”

As of writing, a Bitcoin is worth $3859 up from its $3191 low reached just four days ago on December 15th. Some ‘altcoins’ have performed even better, like Stratis, which increased 52.57 percent over the past 24 hours alone.

A whopping $15 billion has been added to the market cap since yesterday, according to CoinMarketCap. The overall cap swelled from $113 billion on Dec 18th at 00:02 UTC to $128 billion on Dec 19th at 13:32.

While it’s too early to call the end of the bear market which has defined this year, it feels we may have – or are close – to bottoming out.

Boggart warns there may still be price volatility and Bitcoin could even drop to $1000 but any price between that and where we are today presents ‘a great buying opportunity’. He further adds: “When we look back 24 or even 12 months from now, we’re going to say, ‘why didn’t I buy then?’”

Behind the scenes, the fundamentals of blockchain technology have been improving greatly and it won’t be long before we see more real-world adoption. Bitcoin’s adoption of the Lightning Network is one such development, helping to ‘transact extremely cheaply and extremely quickly.’

While Lightning is providing off-chain scaling, newer coins are working on solutions which can scale on-chain. Komodo, for example, has reached 20,000 tps in a live public test and is currently working with Amazon Web Services to obtain the infrastructure necessary to achieve a sustained result of one million transactions per second – amounting to a grand total of 100 million payments per second.

Along these lines, Boggart highlighted the ‘quality of talent’ entering the space and the ‘best and brightest’ are coming in to ‘work on Bitcoin’.


The past week has seen various significant developments in terms of how blockchain technologies will be perceived and developed in China.

On October 25, it was reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping had described the technology as an ‘important breakthrough’, with more developments needed to accelerate the sector, as well as greater interoperability between blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, put it this way. “Noting that China’s blockchain sector has a sound foundation, Xi stressed expediting the development of blockchain technology and innovation-driven industrial development. More efforts should be made to strengthen basic research and boost innovation capacity to help China gain an edge in theories, innovation and industries of the emerging field.”

There was more to come. Reuters reported a Chinese central bank official who said commercial banks should ‘step up their application of the technology to embrace digital finance’. Cryptocurrency-focused news resource cnLedger noted that articles expressing concern over the validity of blockchain were being purged, while companies who had publicly claimed investment in the technology – cloud software firm Xunlei was cited by cnLedger – saw serious market gains.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, the Communications Industry Association proposed that October 24 should become ‘blockchain day’, quoting a committee spokesperson who said President Xi ‘blew the horn of progress for the future.’

This naturally makes a significant change from the country’s previous stance. More than two years have passed since China banned ICOs, while in August last year, as this publication put it, China’s ‘wider crackdown on activities related to digital money’ saw a blanket ban on more than 100 offshore cryptocurrency exchanges.

So what does this mean – and what should the industry look for?

While many stocks have gone up, analysts point to a potential downturn when it comes to crypto in China. TRON, which last week announced its integration with Samsung’s Blockchain Keystore, surged 30% at the start of this week for instance, which did not go unnoticed by project CEO Justin Sun.

Bitcoin, however, is presumably in a safer position. As reported by Decrypt, a ruling in July from Hangzhou’s Internet Court found the digital currency can enjoy a legal status at the same level as physical assets. The case, albeit going against the plaintiff, saw the judge rule that Bitcoin – and crypto at large – should be considered ‘virtual Internet property’, in legal terms.

Writing on Twitter, economist Alex Kruger argued the odds of China supporting public blockchains with tradeable tokens which can be used for speculation and moving money out of China were ‘close to zero’. “China is not interested in decentralisation but in control,” Kruger wrote.

This threat was noted by an anonymous ‘Bitcoin dissident’, as Coindesk put it, who warned of repercussions against a fully integrated blockchain-based financial system controlled by the Chinese government. “We do need to think about ethics when it comes to these things,” they said. “If the value is something a totalitarian state can take hold of and use to track every single person and what they’re doing, enforcing the strictest currency controls, then this is what they are going to do.”

Following the president’s remarks, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper urged caution in a commentary piece. “Blockchain’s future is here but we must remain rational,” the commentary read. “The rise of blockchain technology was accompanied by that of cryptocurrencies, but innovation in blockchain technology does not mean we should speculate in virtual currencies.”


UEFA, European football’s governing body, is to introduce a blockchain-based ticketing system for the upcoming Euro 2020 championship.

In order to boost the fans’ football experience, the UEFA blockchain ticketing system will include the distribution of match tickets through a mobile ticketing system application. This system is expected to deliver more than one million mobile tickets across the entire tournament.

According to UEFA, as Euro 2020 is expected to be its largest ever in terms of ticket demand, the blockchain-based system will amplify the fans’ experience through safe, secure, and smooth blockchain-enabled mobile ticketing.

Last month Lancashire Cricket, a leading cricket club in the UK, claimed that it has become the first organisation in the UK to make use of blockchain technology to sell tickets for all types of domestic and international matches at the Emirates Old Trafford stadium in 2020. The club will be leveraging a new blockchain mobile tickets platform, called TIXnGO to ensure that only genuine supporters get tickets. This will also help in curbing the problem of counterfeit merchandise.

In the same month, two leading Italian football clubs, Juventus and Fiorentina, announced the launch of blockchain projects focusing around fan engagement and shirt certification respectively. Another Italian football club ACF Fiorentina is making use of the blockchain technologies provided by Genuino, an Italian startup, to authenticate official shirts used by the club’s players during games. According to a report by SportBusiness, the shirts are fitted with a dedicated chip, on which sits a unique and unchangeable code, to confirm authenticity. Officials from ACF Fiorentina said that the partnership will help involve supporters, as well as fight counterfeiting.


Blockchain / Gartner: Blockchain is the perfect match for the IoT
« on: March 04, 2020, 03:52:33 PM »
Gartner believes that blockchain technology is the perfect match for the IoT and will help it to overcome some of its biggest problems.

Blockchain is synonymous with security. The IoT, on the other hand, is known for suffering from serious vulnerabilities which have led to repeated high-profile breaches and cyberattacks.

In a blog post highlighting key findings from a survey titled IoT Adopters Embrace Blockchain, Gartner says it believes that the two emerging technologies are a perfect match.

Blockchain is heading into the so-called "Trough of Disillusionment" of Gartner's hype cycle – meaning that the initial hype has subsided and people's inflated expectations have turned to disappointment. However, what comes next is the "Slope of Enlightenment" where blockchain technologies become adopted with more realistic expectations.

Gartner notes that 75 percent of IoT technology adopters in the US have already adopted blockchain or are planning to adopt it by the end of 2020.

The study revealed that pharmaceuticals, energy, healthcare, and transportation are the industries which are leading in blockchain adoption.

Avivah Litan, VP and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, wrote:

"Blockchain networks have emerged as a promising innovation because of their ability to affirm the integrity of data shared among constituents in multiparty process collaboration.

IoT has emerged as a method for bridging the gap between resources (or 'things') and their associated business processes."

Litan highlights the potential of combining both technologies to provide multiparty trust when bridging real-world things to business computing environments.

When tallying the respondents' first and second choice of key benefits of using blockchain for their IoT project, the leading reason (63%) was to increase security and trust when handling multiparty transactions and data.

56 percent said the main benefit was decreased costs and improved business efficiency. Just 43 percent said increased revenue and business opportunities, while only 37 percent chose improved constituent or participant experience.

Gartner warns that the combination of IoT and blockchain is still relatively immature and many solutions cannot yet scale to the transaction rates needed for adoption. However, the research outlet believes that the combination of technologies will enable innovative devices and business models within the next five to ten years.


Sponsored Is the Internet of Things (IoT) complicated or relatively simple? Well, perhaps both. 

In describing IoT, I like to paint a picture using an acronym coined by Numerex many years ago – DNA. An IoT solution has three main components – Devices, Networks, and Applications.   

Each IoT device will have:

Sensor(s) - to monitor temperature, humidity, flow, pressure, etc
Compute - to collect information, send information to a central application, and perhaps take immediate action
Network components - to connect to wireless networks (LTE), Wi-Fi, and/or wireline networks
IoT devices of all sorts are available on the market. The Arduino Portenta H7, recently made available for beta test, is a modular platform designed to help kickstart new IoT development efforts. 

Many IoT solutions span multiple networks. They may connect via LTE, Wi-Fi, or other networks. Two new LTE categories of devices that have serious momentum today are LTE-M and NB-IoT.  Check out this Mobile IoT Deployment Map from GSMA that showcases national and regional deployments of LTE-M and NB-IoT networks. 

The application is the brains. The application collects data, is programmed to take action on that data, and provides a user-interface, plus much more. Amazon is just one of the new players in the application space, looking to become a catalyst for IoT industrial, consumer, and commercial solutions.

Herein lies the simplified view of IoT:  Devices are connected through networks to applications that collect data and control devices. The complexity is that there are hundreds of devices, dozens of networks, and dozens or hundreds of applications from which to choose. These complex decisions can slow down the deployment of IoT solutions.

You can learn more about the inner workings of technologies like NB-IoT Performance Analysis on Award Solutions’ YouTube Channel.  You can also get a guided tour of the IoT space by attending the IoT Tour at MWC. You will hear from companies making waves in IoT: those focused on the device side, the network side, and the application side. More importantly, you will see real solutions that are available today. 

Don’t allow the complexity of IoT to slow you down and overshadow its simplicity. Choose some solid partners, begin deploying solutions, and learn and grow them as you move forward.

Editor's note: This article is in association with MWC Barcelona 2020. Learn more about Mark Harms and join the IoT Tour at MWC to learn more about this topic.


In tech circles, data becoming the world’s most valuable resource is a common refrain. Some even say it’s the new oil. And as with oil, the world’s economy is starting to pivot around the wealth and potential data promises.

In the context of the Internet of Things, however, data starts to paint a different picture — a much bigger picture. Whereas oil is a finite resource whose value is tied mostly to its scarcity, IoT has the potential to make data virtually unlimited. Imagine you’re an enterprise company with 1 million sensors in the field at any given point. Those sensors constantly gather and send a massive number of data points at every single second of the day. The importance of IoT in business, then, comes down to this data deluge.

There are certainly significant opportunities here, but challenges also exist. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a paradox emerge: Although 92% of companies say they’re increasing investments in big data and artificial intelligence to get more value from their data, the share of companies that identify as “data-driven” is actually trending downward. IoT rollouts have also proven more difficult for companies than expected: Respondents to a Microsoft survey said 30% of their IoT projects didn’t move past the proof-of-concept stage.

IoT has the potential to scale data’s value at an unprecedented rate. Before companies can reap those rewards, however, they should ensure they have the platforms and processes in place to handle it.

Common challenges regarding IoT and data
Despite data’s immense value, companies should also be sure to identify weak spots in data strategies. One of the most important questions to ask is this: What are you trying to do with all this IoT data? If you can’t answer that question, you’ll often become misaligned.

This value-based question plays out in industries across the board, but agriculture presents a particularly good example. IoT represents a $4 billion market opportunity for this industry in the future, but only 10% to 15% of farmers use the technology now. Among those who are using it, though, there are some fascinating use cases. Because agricultural technology is so tied to outcomes, the value of IoT data here is easy to define. For example, IoT integrated into a combine can give a farmer an approximation of yield almost instantly. This is a far cry from waiting through the standard drying and weighing process to see whether the harvest meets expectations. In this instance, IoT-driven data is easier to handle because it’s trained with a coherent goal in mind: Getting the farmer the information necessary for a specific output as soon as possible.

That also indicates another common way data’s value can escape a company’s grasp: not understanding and accounting for turnaround times in data processing. If a farmer can get manual harvest data faster (or at the same speed) as what this sensor could provide, it would be useless. Likewise, if IoT data signals that a machine is at risk of breaking down, that data itself won’t fix the problem. If the data is received too late, the machine might shut down anyway. As such, these types of machines should be programmed with the capacity to make decisions via edge machine learning with no human input. This represents a development and engineering challenge in and of itself.

Ensuring the greatest value from IoT-created data
When IoT-based data solutions fail to attain oil-level value, it’s often because of simple gaps in solution-building. These best practices can help you manage your IoT-driven data, avoid pitfalls, and increase your chances of securing true value from your data strategy:

Practice right-to-left thinking
Essentially, right-to-left thinking is a framework that ensures your data strategy follows a logical process. Start with your wider-use case and define what you need to achieve. Then, ask yourself what you need in order to achieve your overarching end goal. After you find an answer, start to ask more specific questions: What data points do you need to get that information? What needs to be in your platform to secure those data points? As you continue through your stack, the gaps in your processes will surface naturally.

Hypothesise before you begin
Any new data strategy — and especially one that includes IoT — will involve some level of experimentation, which means that having a concrete hypothesis is critical. Many “what-ifs” are involved in IoT, and this is amplified when your solution involves AI or machine learning components. Without a standardised hypothesis to compare results, you won’t be able to draw meaningful insights regarding your success.

Create an iteration process
You don’t want to run an IoT project that stalls out in the proof-of-concept stage. Instead, your primary objective should be to provide actual value from this new data — not theoretical value. This requires prioritising iteration over perfection. In addition to testing your IoT data against your hypothesis, apply some creative thought as well: If you tweak a certain element, how can you make the project even more valuable? Implementing digital twins into your standard operations can be helpful here, as you’ll be able to conduct what are essentially real-world tests without making massive investments.

The importance of IoT in business can’t be overstated — but a massive influx of data can be incredibly difficult to manage. Ensuring that you have your data strategy in working order is the only way to strike it rich.


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering have proposed a system that would use resources that are currently under utilised in an existing wireless channel in order to create more opportunities for lag-free connections.

The system will require no additional hardware or wireless spectrum resources and will minimise traffic backups on networks with several wireless connections.

Dubbed ‘EasyPass’, the method would exploit the existing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) margin, and use it as a dedicated side channel for IoT devices. Testing so far has demonstrated a 90% reduction in data transmission delay in congested IoT networks.

“The network’s automatic response to channel quality, or signal-to-noise ratio, is almost always a step behind,” said Wei Gao, associate professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. “When there is heavy traffic on a channel, the network changes to accommodate it. Similarly, when there is a lighter traffic, the network meets it, but these adaptations don’t happen instantaneously.

“We used that lag – the space between the channel condition change and the network adjustment – to build a side channel solely for IoT devices where there is no competition and no delay.”

As per Berg Insight’s latest forecast, the public transport market for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in Europe and North America will reach £3.14b by 2023. In Europe, the market value for ITS deployed in public transport operations was £1.32b in 2018. It is expected to reach £1.83b, growing at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent by 2023. In the same way, North American market for public transport ITS is forecasted to increase at a CAGR of 7.3 per cent from £910.7m in 2018 to reach £1.29b in 2023.

Additionally, ABI Research’s latest smart cities market data report has predicted that by 2026, smart utility metering and video surveillance will hold an important portion of the smart city segment, with the number of connections representing 87 per cent of the total number of smart city connections. As per the report, though surveillance cameras with embedded AI computing capabilities from vendors like NVIDIA are already being deployed, low latency 5G connectivity will allow real-time local response management in the future by utilising powerful cloud-based AI capabilities.


It goes without saying that in business, the customer is always right. Except, of course, when they’re not.

Take the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as a sporting example. When the idea for the shortened Twenty20 (T20) format was first proposed in 2003, not everyone was on board: of the 18 first-class counties, only 11 supported the new competition. Today, with established domestic competitions globally and a recognised World Cup, the format thrives.

Getting the balance right between traditional customers – the bulwark of your business – and attracting new customers is key for all sporting franchises as the game develops and, hopefully, grows.

Formula 1 is no different. The motorsport behemoth has made various technological investments in a bid to stay on top. 18 months ago the company became an Amazon Web Services (AWS) customer, moving its infrastructure across and using various AWS products, with machine learning at the forefront, to improve data tracking and race strategies. The partnership appears to have gone well on both sides, with Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn appearing at the big re:Invent keynote that year to discuss new projects, including simulating slipstream environments through high performance computing (HPC), in an attempt to bring about closer racing.

But what about the race experience for the fans? Matt Roberts (left) is research and analytics director at Formula 1. Roberts leads a team of seven – the latest employee starting on the day this interview takes place – crunching the numbers on how the races are performing in terms of fan engagement, whether at the circuit or watching on TV, and suggesting improvements.

With a CV which reads like a who’s who of sports broadcasting – Eurosport, ESPN and BT before moving to Sky – moving to the other side in 2017 felt both natural and prescient for Roberts. “The rights holder side, in terms of data, and research, and insight, is still quite raw,” says Roberts. “There are very few of us who are actually doing that much in this space. You’re looking at these skeletons, these small, under-resourced teams of inside people whilst F1 wanted to invest.

“It made total sense for me to move over and set up over here, and it’s been pretty good ever since.”

A lot of the work Roberts’ team engages in is around good old-fashioned market research. This is no alien experience for Roberts, who began his career at Millward Brown. Yet the projects involve a little more than a pen and a clipboard.

For each race, a focus group of 100 fans watch the action with biometric devices tracking skin responses measuring engagement. This data can then be fed back to TV teams. At the circuits themselves, Roberts estimates that more than 30,000 fans are consulted over the course of a season to understand what is and isn’t working well. To assist with this, Wi-Fi sensors are deployed to measure footfall figures, with this data helping guide the race organisers.

The beauty of F1, as a spectator and fan experience, is that each race is so different. Take the winding streets of Monaco, or the classic racing circuit of Silverstone, or the festival-esque atmosphere of Singapore. “Singapore [as a] fan experience is very different from Silverstone, which is 300,000 people camping in a field,” says Roberts. “It’s kind of a mini-Glastonbury – music, concerts going on.”

As a result, each audience is different, traversing the true petrolheads and the more casual fans. Regardless, with only seven hours of racing across a whole Grand Prix and the vast majority of fans making a weekend of it, there needs to be plenty to do alongside the action.

Generally speaking, the numbers have found you can’t go far wrong with exhibitions about cars. This may have been a fairly safe bet – Roberts notes the display of James Bond cars, available at six European Grands Prix last season, was a major success – but the data has thrown up plenty of other trends.

“Another big demand that has come up a lot suddenly in the last year or so is education,” says Roberts. “I think people who go to the sport and go to racing may not all be avid fans. Some of them may be more casual, and they want to understand how the sport works beyond the premise of cars racing around a track. They want to know how the cars are designed, to understand things like DRS, different types of tyres.

“This year there are going to be a lot more activations around tech corners,” Roberts adds. “In our hospitality suites there’s going to be TED talks to explain how the sport works for those who want to go and to understand a bit more. We’re growing our attendance every year, and we’re probably bringing on more casual fans.”

Ultimately, as the arbiter of the sport, a lot of engagement data gets fed into the primary motorsport team, charged with designing the future of Formula 1 across the next decade or more. This means examining the entire format and, if necessary, changing things. Should the practice and qualifying sessions remain as they are?

Research has always shown that fans want tighter, more exciting racing. No surprise there. But to what end? Here, one can see the tightrope balancing act which needs to take place across all fans. “We’re finding that it’s a really interesting piece of work,” explains Roberts. “The avid traditional fans don’t want any changes, they think it’s perfect, but the casual fans say they want to see [something] similar to T20 cricket coming in – a sprint race, or something that’s going to make it more interesting and shake it up a bit.”

Roberts notes the less-than-enthusiastic polling when T20 first hit the road. Indeed, the upcoming Hundred cricket franchise has arguably undergone more scathing fan reaction. Yet for Roberts, it all needs to be a bigger picture focus. “Research doesn’t make decisions, it informs decisions,” he says. “Fans don’t always know what they want – or, know what they want is really going to work with the sport.

“You do the research, but sometimes that doesn’t make the 100% decisions,” he adds. “It forms your thinking around the decision, and that’s always been the philosophy here.”

Roberts is speaking at the IoT Tech Expo in London on March 17-18, where he will elaborate on how Formula 1 is maximising commercial opportunities through Wi-Fi analytics and sensors. The data can only get better, he says. “I think the interesting thing is we can look at actual data and actual behaviour, and understand how that is impacting our commercial performance, and how we can improve that commercial performance,” he says. “There are many ways to measure how fans are behaving – and using the latest technology and sensors are definitely an interesting way forward for us.”


Semios, a Canada-based precision farming platform for permanent crops announced that it has raised $75 million (£57.65m) in private equity funding to boost the development of its data-driven crop management solution.

To date, the company has secured a total of £88.4m in external capital. The funding was led by Morningside Group, a Boston-based private equity and venture capital firm. Semios CEO and founder, Dr. Michael Gilbert said: “This investment will help us continue to deliver innovative solutions to the most pressing problems growers have told us they face."

In November, Titan Class, an Australia-based agricultural IoT company received an unspecified investment from Cisco, with whom it had partnered on an agritech offering. Cisco said: “With a single Titan Class deployment, farmers can use up to a thousand sensors without restriction. These sensors have been proven on operating farms to reliably communicate over several kilometers from a simple on-farm communications tower and each sensor has inexpensive commodity batteries that can last for years.”

Plenty of initiatives are taking place with regard to IoT for agriculture. Oizom, an India-based IoT solutions provider is leveraging Semtech’s LoRa devices and Tata Communications’ LoRaWAN-based networking infrastructure for its latest Agribot smart agriculture solution, which is designed to provide farmers real-time insight of their crops health by monitoring soil conditions, including humidity and pH levels. Marc Pegulu, vice president of IoT for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group, said: “With LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol’s proven capabilities, Oizom is able to accelerate a product to market quickly while capturing a wide range of soil data in a variety of environmental temperatures.”


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