How affordable are IoT solutions for those who actually need it?

How affordable are IoT solutions for those who actually need it?

Can farmers in developing/under developed country really afford IoT solutions?

Almost everyone in tech might be familiar with this term IoT (Internet of Things) which is the talk of the town from past few years.

IoT is considered as the future and all most all tech companies are embracing it and providing different solutions using it. If I say it in a better way, few companies are actually working on providing usable solutions for IoT both in terms of hardware and software and rest of the companies are trying to be the part of the race by projecting as IoT application provider which is the client interface part of the IoT hardware, same as any other business application. Which is fine, I am not against that as a user-facing interface is also necessary to connect with IoT hardware and provide necessary info and take actions. But, IoT applications are not the heart of the IoT solutions.

Now, what am I trying to express by the title of this blog? Let me try to explain what I feel with context to various case studies and IoT solution articles I come across every day on LinkedIn and almost every tech blogs.

I would like to take as an example one particular area for which IoT solutions are proposed. That is: IoT is the Future of Farming.

It is definitely the future of farming, I am not against that but I am saddened with the way IoT solutions are provided and I don’t see a way in which farmers of a developing country or an under-developed country can actually use it in near future. And these solutions are actually needed to be applied for them to cut down the cost. I will take an example of India over here in this article to see if it is applicable for our farmers.

Let me list down few points out of one of the IoT solutions available in the market:

The IoT platform can help you:

  • Easily collect and manage the explosion of data from sensors, cloud services such as weather or maps, connected equipment and existing systems

  • Quickly build and bring to market new innovative IoT applications at 10 times the speed of other approaches with our rapid application development environment and drag and drop mashup builder

  • Leverage big data and analytics to provide new insights and recommendations to aid in better decision-making

  • Enable farmers to easily visualize data and take action on insights and recommendations

Read the last point of the above IoT solution. As an IoT solution provider company what will be the user interface you are going to provide for the last part? Mostly it will be a mobile application or a web interface.

Now, let us analyze whether Indian farmers can actually use it?

  • Average monthly income of India farmer is 6400 INR = 97 USD approx.

  • Most of the farmers are illiterate.

  • Suicide rates of farmers are increasing due to difficulties in earning a daily wage to feed their families.

Can they afford IoT sensors? Can they buy a smartphone to analyze data? NO!

The real life situation is rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. Unless this kind of IoT solutions are not addressed at the level where the poor can benefit from it, it just stays as a tool for a richer audience and luxury homes being automated daily.

I am not writing this to rant about IoT solutions or IoT solution provider companies. I am just trying to express what I see as a real problem that needs to be solved and the better way in which we can think of making IoT solutions affordable and usable for those who can actually benefit from it and improve their lives.

So, what can be the solution for it? I also don’t know the concrete answer to it but it is something we can all collectively think of to start addressing the real life situation where IoT can be useful.

Just when I was researching for any affordable solutions available for farmers, I can across this one which actually connects with any device:

India's Rural Farmers Struggle to Read and Write. Here's How "AgriApps" Might Change That.
*India has the highest adult illiteracy rate in the world. According to the latest report published by UNESCO, there are…*

This might resolve the problem but not fully. We need more and more alternatives to affordable solution like this.

Can the Government team up with tech companies and along with smart city plans focus on providing smart farmer schemes also?

If Government agrees to spend for integrating the hardware and sensors for IoT solution to farmers, how can we design the visual part of it?

Can we use digital billboard which is common between say 10 farms which display information from those 10 farms iteratively where a farmer can read in their language?

Since farmers cannot afford smartphones and are even not literate, can we feed the analyzed data to a loud speaker which announces the state of crops, moisture, weather etc? Again this can be common between 10 farms to reduce cost and information can be broadcasted turn by turn.

Can we get rid of visual displays and smartphone connectivity and just use some simple color-coded indication based on which farmer can take action? Has anyone used Pureit Water filter? It indicates to change filter cartridge with a red dot after filtering 1500 liters of water.

I am not sure whether these can be feasible solutions or not but we definitely need to come up with such affordable alternatives and think about broader audience in terms of providing solutions.

Are you an IoT solution provider company? Did any affordable solution struck in your mind while reading this? Then please comment and share your views. Recommend and share this article if you feel it useful and think that it is important to get collective views. Let us all think of reaching a broader audience and provide affordable solutions to those who can benefit from it. I hope that government also teams up to sponsor IoT solutions for farmers in one of their schemes then the rest is on us regarding how to project to content in a farmer-friendly manner.

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