YBHG. DATO’ NORIYAH AHMAD
ECONOMIC PLANNING UNIT, PRIME MINISTER’S DEPARTMENT
INTERNET OF THINGS SEMINAR
WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS AS A NEW SOURCE OF GROWTH
MARRIOT HOTEL PUTRAJAYA
2 MARCH 2011
The Honorable Dato’ Joseph Salang
Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture
YBhg Dato’ Dr. Mohd Ali bin Mohamad Nor
Deputy Secretary General,
Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture
Y. Brs. Prof. Dr. Borhanuddin bin Mohd Ali
National Centre of Excellence for Sensor Technology
Mr Ian Smith
Coordinator, Casagras 2 Project
Members of CASAGRAS,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
and a very Good Morning
Let me first welcome you to this Seminar on the Internet of Things, jointly organised by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. We are indeed privileged this morning to have with us lead researchers and members of the CASAGRAS 2 project here to share their knowledge on The Internet of Things.
Not too long ago when we talked about the computer we would be referring to standalone PCs. Now working without being connected to a network is almost unimaginable. The Internet itself has evolved from the Internet of Computers, where computers talked to computers, to the Internet of People with the various types of social media and now to Internet of Things. The Internet of Things, I understand is a new revolution of the Internet which involves the networked interconnection of everyday objects enabled through self-configuring wireless network of sensors. Imagine a world where everyday, ordinary objects are connected and are able to communicate, object to object and the information relayed to us as and when needed. Well, what can happen among others are supermarkets would not run out of stock, products would not go to waste as all involved parties would know exactly which products are required and consumed. Items that are mislaid would be easily found and stolen items can be tracked and recovered as the location of an item would be known at all times. Our daily lives would undergo a transformation. It does sound a little scary to think that everything will be exposed but I believe in the interest of everyone on this planet, there will be regulations to balance between convenience and privacy which I think we will still want to maintain, however modern our society progresses into.
Ladies and gentlemen.
In the case of Malaysia, as in most if not all countries, we started as an agrarian economy in the fifties and sixties. We then moved on to industrialisation and achieved middle income status positioning ourselves among the top rungs of the middle income band. With many of the developing countries catching up fast and offering more competitive cost of production, not transforming the economy will put the nation on a relative decline. We have to get out of this middle income trap and move up to becoming a high income advanced economy. Hence, there is a need to steer the economy towards achieving at least the minimum level of USD14, 818 by 2020. This requires, among others, achieving an average Gross Domestic Product growth of 6.0% per annum during the Tenth Plan Period which commences this year and ends in 2015. Demand-driven technological evolutions like the Internet of Things give us an opportunity to partake alongside with other countries in the global economy. Economic growth and wealth creation can be achieved through the development of such new technology with careful studies of potential demands for the use of such technologies.
One such technology, Wireless Sensor Networks or WSN is proposed in the National Strategic Blueprints. Under Malaysian Information, Communication and Multimedia Services (MyICMS 886) Roadmap, WSN was identified as part of the Short Range Communications services that will support the creation of a truly ubiquitous environment and could provide profound changes to the relationship between humans and the material world around them and will certainly uplift productivity and enhance economic growth. Meanwhile, in the National Strategic ICT Roadmap, a technology forecast study carried out in 2006 – 2007, identified WSN as a technology focus area that is essential to make possible enormous leaps to Malaysian competitiveness and its transition towards a knowledge-based economy. These forecasts have proven to be correct where wireless sensor networks are now core enablers for the Internet of Things. In order for us to drive the growth of WSN, we need to chart out the WSN value chain or ecosystem. First which area will we be playing in? Is it in the area of manufacturing? Or design? Or the development of applications for WSN? Looking at our current and potential strengths that we can leverage on, with potential commercial deployment for WSN, the ICT Roadmap recommended WSN in smart agriculture, precision farming, logistics, the halal industry in terms of traceability, soil monitoring and disaster management. As a start, we have embarked on applications of WSN as pilot projects in the area of agriculture which is still mainly driven by traditional applications. The niche and the offerings that Malaysia can provide in agriculture sector may be the key opportunities for Malaysia’s WSN industry entry to world market. WSN technology will be seen as enabler, particularly in the adoption and implementation of Precision Agriculture. This could also be a potential area of collaboration between Casagras and our National Centre of Excellence for Sensor Technology who are pioneering the project.
Another very important factor of drive and sustainability, which we cannot do without, is the availability of an educated and trained workforce, supplemented by capability to tap into the global pool of knowledge and talent. Hence it is crucial that our Institutes of Higher Learning recognise the areas in which talent is needed and structure the curriculum towards to be able to churn graduates that are able to adapt to the current and future needs of the industry. The supply of graduates must be done in tandem as the industry develops so as to be able to fill the demand gap.
Another key enabler in this value chain is in the area of R&D and commercialisation. R&D leads to knowledge creation and innovation is key to commercialisation. However, in order to be able to commercialise, R&D, in the area of applied research must be demand-driven. As it is quite apparent that the Internet of Things will be the way of future, I would like to call upon Institutes of Higher Learning and Research Institutes to make research on WSN as a priority area. One of the key enablers for movement up the value chain is R&D expenditure, both public and private. To optimise the usage of our limited funds, allocation on research will be given to identified priority areas. Areas of applied research must start with a need from the industry so that it will end up with the industry using the product for value creation. Synergies between industry and academia is key towards creating and maintaining the supply-demand equilibrium. The government has established the National Centre of Excellence for Sensor Technology or NEST in University Putra Malaysia, leveraging on the research that they have done in the area of wireless sensors. It is my hope that this will be a hub of collaboration between other Institutes of Higher Learning, Research Institutes, both locally and abroad and more importantly with our clients – the industry. The industry including our local government linked companies must also play their role in taking up local innovation. This dutiful support is necessary for our local R&D to flourish.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last but not least is the establishment of standards. Standards are important in that they provide a level playing field and the transparency needed to new entrants wishing to participate. With a critical mass of companies participating, there will be competition which will in turn push down prices of products. The Government’s role is to foster innovation through sound governance arrangements developed with greater involvement of stakeholders in defining policy orientation and priorities. In addition to that, the private sector must be allowed to take the lead. Policies related to industry structure, upgrading and expansion, as well as product or process development and specialisation, need to be market-driven. The market will dictate the pace of technological innovation on the basis of sustainable demand trends, whether in traditional or new areas of growth. The market will decide whether to utilise domestically-sourced or internationally-acquired innovative products or processes. This is of course dependent on the adequacy of the physical and ICT infrastructure that facilitates the location and development of knowledge and innovation investment platforms, and on an adequate skilled workforce.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Internet of Things is a fresh, new area that can be explored. We have identified Wireless Sensor Networks as a potential new source of growth. Things will not just happen. We need to get our act together. The right strategies must be crafted in order to encourage and sustain the growth of WSN. Knowledgeable human capital is key, hence capacity building initiatives must begin now. R&D is the heart of innovation. Funds are limited and at the same time we cannot spread our financial resources thin. We have to prioritise our R&D areas and R&D must be demand-driven, that is from the industry to the industry. This will go a long way in helping our commercialisation efforts. Our own local companies must make conscientious moves to adopt local R&D products. Last but not least, adoption of internationally recognised standards will be the confidence booster needed by both industry and consumers alike. I know it is a challenge but I believe that if we put our hearts and minds together we can achieve the objectives we set out for ourselves and our nation. It is my sincere hope that the seminar participants will gain from the knowledge sharing sessions especially with the experts from the CASAGRAS 2 project and may you all have a joyful deliberation.