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GSMA launches IoT Big Data API Directory to join up the data silos


via Flickr © kickize (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  • GSMA aims to get IoT data flowing between silos
  • IoT APIs are a key element giving developers access to harmonised data sets
  • API directory an industry first

The GSMA today has launched an ‘IoT Big Data API Directory’ with the idea of providing IOT developers access to ‘harmonised data sets from multiple sources worldwide’. The GSMA claims the API directory, a first of its kind, should spur a common approach to data sharing and will foster applications that need to dip into multiple data silos.

A good example of this might be smart integrated transport apps, where real time information on otherwise disparate data -  such as street level footfall, real-time public transport information, traffic congestion information, weather and more - could all be mashed together to produce optimum routes for travellers.

Many observers believe that the ability to mash data across silos in this way is the real key to IoT success.

“The IoT generates a huge amount of data that is currently retained in vertical silos. However, in order for the IoT to reach its full potential this data needs to be released and made available to developers and third parties,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “A common, collaborative and interoperable approach to big data will remove the commercial and technical barriers to capitalising on the IoT opportunity.”

The GSMA claims China Mobile, China Unicom, KT Corporation, Orange and Telefónica have already implemented solutions enabling them to share harmonised IoT data.

However, William Webb, independent IoT consultant and CEO of the Weightless SIG, (an IoT/M2M  standards body) points out that while there is a need to harmonise and make IoT data as widely available as possible, it’s worth remembering that the GSMA’s mobile networks, even under 5G, will only comprise one of many sources of IoT data.  As well as the huge amount of IoT data passed across fixed networks, the wireless systems deployed by Sigfox and LoRa and others, will together account for a significant proportion of IoT traffic.

“It would be more powerful to have a single unified directory covering all of these,” he claims. “Such an entity  would more logically sit above the GSMA. However, the GSMA initiative might help stimulate such a higher-level body or eventually morph into one.”

The GSMA has also released a document called the ‘IoT Big Data Framework’ to define how mobile operators can approach the delivery of IoT big data services. It says that “the document provides a framework for the delivery of IoT big data services that recognises the many different approaches towards the services that are offered and the technology choices that are made. The proposed architecture offers a degree of flexibility which allows IoT big data services to be offered in multiple ways.”

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