Thailand sets sights on spearheading IoT alliance

Thailand sets sights on spearheading IoT alliance

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) says Thailand is planning to lead an international Internet of Things (IoT) alliance, strengthening the potential of the country's IoT initiative that will be driven by tourism, agriculture and the automotive sector.

The IoT market in Thailand is forecast to reach US$1 billion (31.3 billion baht) by 2020 and Depa is working hard to develop an IoT institute.

"An IoT institute is one of five key initiatives for the 2.2 billion baht allocated to the Digital Economy and Society [DE] Ministry for this fiscal year," DE Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said after his opening speech at the "Internet of Things: From Hype to Reality" seminar, hosted by the World Bank and Depa.

The first IoT building is expected to cost 1.6 billion baht, of which 270 million has already been allocated for design. The other four initiatives are a Smart Eastern Economic Corridor (Smart EEC), digital startups, coding access and Net Pracha Rat, which have budgets of 788, 414, 236 and 598 million baht, respectively.

To be located in the EEC digital park, the IoT institute is to be a public-private partnership, he said.

"We will have a roadshow in targeted countries over the next two months, including Japan, Australia and Singapore. The Digital Thailand policy is not just hype," said Mr Pichet.

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, president and chief executive of Depa, said the IoT institute needs 3.6 billion baht to construct three buildings on 60,000 rai in Sri Racha, Chon Buri.

Some 270 million baht has already been allocated to that end, while 1.3 billion more needs to be approved for the next fiscal year budget.

Construction of the first building is expected to take two years.

"The IoT institute is intended to build the IoT ecosystem and draw multinational corporations to work with local entrepreneurs and universities to embrace the network, enabling the real sector to conduct smart farming, smart tourism and smart automotive," said Mr Nuttapon.

The IoT institute will include a 5G laboratory, cloud innovation lab, artificial intelligence design lab and data analytics centre.

The institute will allocate 60% of its space to serve as a testbed and laboratory for IoT, AI and robotics. Outside space will also be provided for testing autonomous cars and drones.

Depa, meanwhile, is moving forward to form an international IoT alliance, which has attracted the participation of 30 local IoT companies.

The agency is looking to jointly invest in the IoT institute with 10 universities and private sector players, including Huawei, AIS, True, Cisco and PTT.

Depa, in collaboration with the World Bank, conducted a report on how governments can implement technology and solutions regarding data exchange for IoT utilisation.

"IoT adoption among governments around the globe is still in the nascent stage," said Prasanna Lal Das, lead author of the report, entitled "The Internet of Things: The New Government to Business Platform".

Three major IoT challenges for the government are: knowledge gap; implementation from hype to reality; and tools for scaling up from pilot projects to mass impact.

IoT will be useless unless data sharing is implemented, said Mr Nuttapon, adding most governments are unprepared for the deluge of IoT data.

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