The Internet of Things (IoT) is playing an increasingly prominent role in the production and life of people in all sectors as digital and intelligent transformation and upgrading of industries speeds up.
With sensing and network communications technologies as its major means, the IoT is infrastructure that provides services including the sensing, transmission, and processing of information through ubiquitous connection among people, machines, and objects.
The IoT is empowering various industries. In fact, many IoT application scenarios have become realities, such as production equipment with sensors that can be operated, maintained, and monitored from a thousand miles away, smart loudspeaker box that can be controlled using voice commands, and roads covered by video surveillance system and cooperative vehicle-infrastructure system that make autonomous driving possible.
In recent years, China has made active efforts to advance the development of its IoT industry, which has enjoyed sound growth momentum and shown great potential for development.
It’s estimated that the scale of the country’s IoT industry exceeded 2.4 trillion yuan ($375.8 billion) by the end of 2020, surpassing the target of 1.5 trillion yuan set out in the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).
By the end of last year, the ownership of IoT SIM cards in China had exceeded 1.2 billion, and the country’s number of backbone IoT enterprises with an output value of more than one billion yuan surpassed 200, according to statistics.
In an effort to further boost the development of the industry, eight ministries in China recently issued an action plan for the construction of the IoT in the next three years (2021-2023).
The document specifies key tasks and targets for the construction of the new infrastructure in a systematic way and sets the goal of preliminarily covering major cities in the country by the IoT by the end of 2023.
So far, China’s IoT industry has published more than 370 standards, clearly defined IoT-related terms and concepts, and standardized technical requirements for network technology, application support, and testing, among other aspects.
The country has witnessed the emergence of new business models in the application of the IoT in its manufacturing sector, such as remote operation and maintenance, monitoring of energy consumption, and safety monitoring.
With the deployment and application of such facilities and systems as video surveillance system, environmental monitoring system, smart smoke detector, and smart street lamp in urban governance, a mechanism for cross-domain data sharing has gradually taken shape in the country.
However, the country still has a long way to go before achieving self-reliance in core technologies of the IoT industry, as the chips in homemade module products are supplied mostly by foreign companies, the country still relies heavily on imported high-end sensors, and there is an urgent need for the country to strengthen the research and development of core technologies concerning the kernel, security, and low power consumption of the IoT operating systems.
The newly issued action plan for the construction of the IoT focuses on making breakthroughs in key and core technologies and aims to advance technology integration and innovation, according to an official with the science and technology department of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
The plan encourages a number of units that have mastered relevant key and core technologies and have strong innovation capability to concentrate efforts on making breakthroughs in innovative technologies in such fields as intellisense, new-type short-distance communication, and high-accuracy positioning and pool efforts to launch a batch of IoT terminals, platforms, and services featuring advanced technologies, extraordinary performance, and good user experience, the official disclosed.
The three-year action plan regards the cultivation of market players as an important part of the construction of the IoT, said Luo Song, deputy head of the Institute of Industrial Internet and Internet of Things under the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).
The action plan says the country will help 10 IoT companies to grow into industry leaders with an output value of more than 10 billion yuan as well as the capability to drive the integrated development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), better optimize the allocation of resource factors including technology, capital, and talent, and facilitate the innovative development of the IoT industry, so that the country will be able to foster more IoT enterprises with specialized and sophisticated techniques and unique and novel products as well as specialized IoT platform operators and service providers, according to Luo.
The deployment of the IoT in 12 industries for the three major areas, namely social governance, industry application, and people’s consumption, is highlighted in the action plan.
“The action plan sets a key target of increasing the number of IoT connections to over two billion,” said the official with the science and technology department of the MIIT.
The target means that by 2023, major cities across the country will have been basically covered by the IoT and that modernization of social governance, industrial digitalization, and consumption upgrading in the country will enjoy a more solid foundation, the official added.