Verizon’s plans for the Internet of Things (IoT) are certainly on the ambitious side. The telco has partnerships all over the shop, from Cypress Semiconductor, to Qualcomm and LG U+ in the past month alone, as well as fingers in many pies, from smart cities, to agriculture, to automotive.
At the forefront of broadcasting this message is David Vasquez, who now works for Verizon in an IoT ‘evangelist’ role having spent the vast majority of his career at the firm in various guises. Speaking at the IoT Tech Expo this week, Vasquez ran through the company’s playbook – “it’s a big puzzle”, he notes – rattling off smart communities, wearables, mobile resource management, and more.
Speaking to IoT Tech News, Vasquez affirms that enablement, the theme of his talk, and collaboration were the most vital elements missing from initiatives today, appropriately choosing a farming analogy as the base. “What needs to happen is collaboration,” says Vasquez. “You have a farmer who grows kale, you have a company that picks up the produce, truck driver takes it to the distribution centre, distribution centre takes it to the retailer, then you and I go and buy our kale, but you don’t have the single entity.
“So from an IoT perspective, from the consumer if I want to verify when it was picked, how it was transported, did you maximise freshness, [did it come from a] local source, I’m going to have to ask the retailer, who’s going to have to ask the distribution centre, and all the way back.
“Long story short, if there was to be a collaboration of all these entities, then it would be done.”
Vasquez admits it’s something of a utopian vision – who pays for it, who gets their hands on all the data – but Verizon is exploring at least one part of that road in a project with Ward Aquafarms (above) in Massachusetts for more sustainable oyster farming. Using the telco’s track and trace technology, the farm can monitor operations across the entire delivery cycle, therefore knowing if seafood boxes have been opened or been exposed to dangerous temperatures at any time. In other words, if a customer fell sick from the produce, blame could be apportioned to the correct party.
It’s this track and trace which Vasquez says is the most exciting element of all. “It’s almost a horizontal approach,” he says. “The hope of these things in transit, whether it’s a farmer, or automotive manufacturer, you need to know that part was never touched or counterfeited before it goes into finished goods.”
As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, and as this publication has consistently explored, no one company can do everything on its own. Keeping with the agriculture theme, Lane Arthur, director of the Information Solutions Group at John Deere, explained that the manufacturing giant ‘doesn’t want to do it all’, and that partnering with other groups is “the best approach to have going forward”.
Vasquez sees it similarly. “For us, partnerships and even investments are key,” he says. “You think of the Verizon brand, we have our core competencies – the network, security, the data centres – we have a lot of subject matter expertise, but there are niches, there are some companies that do it better [than us], and they complement us.” Using 5G as an example, and name dropping Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Intel in the process, he adds: “Ultimately, if we consult with you, we validate and quantify a use case and we sign and build for it, all you want to know is you’re getting the most value for your investment.
“You’re not going to try and peel the onion and find out who’s doing last mile connectivity here, who did the application development here, what level of security authentication…you’re not. You trust the brand, [and] we’ve vetted the partners that we’re bringing to your business to bring value.”
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.