Cisco Sees RFID Maturity at the IoT’s Core

By Edson Perin

The company's Brazilian branch sees identification via RFID tags being increasingly integrated with the Internet of Things.

Brazil is developing a plan for the Internet of Things. In December 2016, the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) presented a public call for the IoT, aimed at receiving proposals to obtain non-refundable financial support for public policies covering the Internet of Things—a topic that has officially entered the strategic agenda of the Brazilian government.

Minister Gilberto Kassab, the head of the nation's Ministry of Science Technology Innovation and Culture (MCTIC), at BNDES' headquarters in Rio de Janeiro (RJ), signed a transfer to the bank of R$17 million ($5.5 million) focusing on IoT initiatives.

Cisco's Giuseppe Marrara

The agreement was signed with the president of BNDES, Maria Sílvia Bastos Marques, and in the presence of the consortium formed by McKinsey & Co., Fundação CPqD and Pereira Neto|Macedo Advogados.

This topic is of interest to several international corporations, such as Cisco, which focuses on the investments that the Internet of Things can bring to the information technology (IT) sector. For Cisco, a point still to be analyzed is what it wants from the plan's application. The company believes that for the IoT, big data and analytics are the basic units of information.

After data collection, Cisco explains, it's understood that there would be no Internet of Things without the real world being automatically perceived, read and measured by systems without human interaction. "RFID is a relevant component of this revolution," says Giuseppe Marrara, Cisco's director of government relations. "The sensing models adopted, as well as the connectivity models, will depend very much on business models."

The Cisco executive believes that passive, active and semi-passive RFID tags are important examples of sensors integrated into the Internet of Things, and that readers will increasingly be integrated into it as well. "In this sense," he explains, "RFID technologies already have a well-developed ecosystem, as well as a robust set of players, and can be integrated with other types of sensors and analytics solutions to bring even more business intelligence."

Marrara points out that management of the sensor network—avoiding collisions and managing such communication—as well as data security are concerns that must be taken into account, regardless of the degree of integration with the IoT.

According to Marrara, one question needs to be answered: What does Brazil intend to be? "We can already see countries such as Germany, which has chosen to position itself as a world leader in manufacturing," he says. The next step in answering the question, he adds, will be to define an ecosystem of regulatory public policies that address all data infrastructure and spectrum infrastructure needs.

For the private sector, Marrara says, the IoT brings a great opportunity to increase productivity and efficiency, so an entrepreneur will naturally invest or be outdone by the competition. "In the public sector, the Internet of Things brings an opportunity to reduce costs and increase the quality of public services provided," he states. "The question is to analyze where to invest first, and what the most important services are for the population."

Regarding Cisco's Internet of Things strategy in Brazil, Marrara reports, the company has created an IoT center with partners for integration and knowledge exchange, as well as the development of new technologies capable of attending to the sector's trends and developing innovations. "We act in all stages," he says. "We research and create projects, set up a solution, examine breakpoints and make it viable for the market."

In Cisco's view, the IoT will completely affect people's routines. "The Internet of Things acts with the big data formula, in addition to analytics, which works on such data in a strategic way," Marrara explains, noting that hospital care, mall shopping, parking and education are all impacted. "The IoT is already entering our lives and will be a natural transition to a future in which we will have things connected to the service of human well-being and corporate productivity."

According to Marrara, Brazil is already using the IoT and is moving toward transformations that will enable such areas as health, education, public safety, energy, logistics and retail to achieve process improvement and customer relationships. "This will bring new business possibilities," he states, "as well as much more effective communication with the public."