Here is an exclusive interview with Mazlan Abbas from REDtone IOT and Toby from Unified Inbox on their partnership and what is in store for the world of IoT. Read on.
1. REDtone IOT has partnered with Unified Inbox, what will be the key outcomes from this partnerships?
Toby: Without hyperbole or exaggeration, this partnership — bringing together Unified Inbox’s IoT Messaging platform with REDtone IOT’s Smart City platform — will save lives. Yes, it will also enable cities to improve the quality of their citizens and visitors lives, including improving traffic congestion, air quality, and energy use, but to help people when natural and man-made disasters strike gets us excited to come to work every day.
Mazlan: We are now living in a world of social media. Our goal is to enable city officials to effortlessly interact with their citizens in a controlled and managed manner. CitiSense is the hub of Smart City, so when we integrate with Unified Inbox’s IoT Messaging platform, it enables trusted information to be quickly disseminated.
2. Devices on Social Media, it sounds very exciting and innovative. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Toby: Unified Inbox’s IoT Messaging platform, called UnificationEngine™ enables you to control your smart devices, and enables your smart devices to send you notifications and alerts on your choice of social media and messaging channels. What’s cool is that every device you use can now have its own Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, or Snapchat account, and behave like a human being when talking to you on the channel(s) you use most.
Mazlan: Imagine the day when the traffic light in front of you messages you over WhatsApp that there will be a 30-minute delay because of an accident one mile up the road — and sends you a photo of the accident. The only limit on the applications is the creativity of application developers.
3. What are the geographies that you are focusing on?
Toby: We are obviously focused on our two home countries of Singapore and Malaysia, but we are already doing business with customers throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Mazlan: We are working with partners in Portugal, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh.
4. What is the roadmap for the next 5 years? Where do you see the partnership going?
Toby: We’re in a very competitive space, so we’re not sharing our detailed roadmap, but we can say that while our starting point is connecting IoT devices and sensors with social media, we are already leveraging each other’s unique strengths to create innovative new smart city solutions.
Mazlan: What do you get when “things” meet social media? Unlimited opportunities!
5. What do you think about the current smart cities scenario and how do you think your partnership will help?
Toby: We are incredibly excited by the enthusiasm we are seeing. Cities are naturally risk-averse — they are stewards of not just their financial resources, but of their residents’ well-being, so they will always be more comfortable using proven solutions that they can see already being successfully used by other cities. Our partnership makes it easier for cities to see the different technologies already at work in real-life situations.
With IoT and Smart City initiatives still in their early stages, the markets are a level playing field, so partnerships can make a profound difference. We’re seeing that community-based or crowdsourced efforts can go a long way, as with the example of REDtone’s CitiAct app, where citizens report issues directly to the authorities [within the IoT infrastructure/connectivity layer itself], and where with technologies such as LoRaWAN and initiatives such as “The Things Network” people can form entire networks without the help of telecoms or other large organizations.
Mazlan: Smart cities face many challenges. Many cities have smart city blueprints which have been slow to take off, while others have failed after multiple implementations. REDtone IOT’s approach towards building smart cities is different. Cities often want a citizen-driven approach, but don’t know where to start. We based our CitiAct mobile app on crowdsourcing — direct citizen engagement. The app will not only identify the location of reported issues, but makes it easy for the local authorities to solve the problem. The data gathered will be very useful in identifying the next generation of smart city application — for example, unattended garbage issues [likely caused by garbage trucks not doing their jobs]. The solution is smart waste management that can track and manage trucks’ routes. Alerts and notifications to citizens of the whereabouts of the trucks through social media channels will be very helpful.
6. What all applications will the joint partnership solve?
Toby: The specific applications the joint partnership will solve are the everyday quality of life items that come with living in a city — being able to quickly and effectively report an issue, such as a pothole or garbage in the street, and then see that your issue has not only been “heard,” but solved in a quicker time than you ever thought possible!
While issues are often reported today through the proper channels, they’re not always heard and/or have action taken on them. Once the issue has been resolved, we can show the person who reported the issue (as well as the public) to let them know it has been fixed, which encourages other people to report issues when they see them. The communication fabric comes from UnificationEngine, and the process management tools come from REDtone’s Smart City IoT platform.
Mazlan: Local city governments/councils now publish their WhatsApp phone numbers and emails as a means for their constituents to contact them. Now, with a simple snap of a photo, a report can instantly be sent to these channels, complete with an official report ID, location, description, etc. There are more applications coming which I’m unable to share at this point in time. Connect with us on social media to learn more about all of our activities and announcements!