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Here is a transcript from a recent interaction between team IT-Voice and Angira Agrawal, COO of Skylo Technologies.
Prateek: What are some of the challenges and barriers in the way of IoT deployment for businesses and industries?
Angira Agrawal: Traditional analog industries like agriculture, fisheries, and logistics are transforming to take full advantage of modern digital technologies like AI, machine learning, IoT, and always-on connectivity. However, basic data connectivity remains non-existent in remote areas – connectivity remains intermittent, often failing in the areas where these industries operate.
Disruptive IoT solutions have an opportunity to serve the underserved by bringing affordable and easy IoT to the critical machines that will increasingly run our businesses. Skylo is delivering a future where anyone can connect and receive continuous data streams and 2-way messaging to keep teams informed about safety, fuel levels, machine health, fleet location, soil moisture, and thousands of other critical parameters. Skylo works with government customers, small and large enterprise customers, and individuals to deploy IoT connectivity solutions.
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is broadening the future of IoT, providing reliable machine-to-machine (M2M) communications while lowering device power consumption needs.
Prateek: Tell us about Skylo’s India vision and journey so far.
Angira Agrawal: Skylo helps businesses of all kinds make informed, transformative immediate decisions powered by data from machines and sensors, anywhere on the surface of the Earth.
We formally launched the first and most affordable satellite-based IoT solution in India in December 2020 as a recognized government partner through our partnership with BSNL, India’s government-owned telecommunications provider. We are aligned with world-class partners including Inmarsat, Beetel, Omnicomm, Sony, SoftBank, and others, as we scale rapidly. We’re excited to help customers reimagine and deploy what hasn’t been possible until now.
Skylo enables businesses and governments to digitalize operations, improve customer experience, increase employee and operational safety, understand more about business operations, and ultimately increase profitability, through a reliable and secure machine and sensor visibility. Skylo helps people and businesses benefit from secure, two-way data connectivity through the Skylo Hub, a rugged modem-sized device that transmits sensor data via Skylo Connect, our always-on satellite network that provides real-time communications even when there is no cell coverage. Customers can manage their operations from the palm of their hand using intuitive Skylo Apps, available on mobile or web, giving teams the ability to take immediate action. Skylo offers easy-to-use APIs allowing businesses to integrate critical data streams into existing applications.
Prateek: How can the deployment of IoT transform the agriculture sector? What are the offerings of Skylo Technologies in the field?
Angira Agrawal: Skylo delivers a solution that allows farmers and custom hiring centers (CHCs) to increase agriculture productivity through equipment rental. 80% of the farmers in India are small to medium farmers who cannot afford large, modern machinery. Skylo’s rental equipment solution enables farmers to take advantage of modern equipment and allows renters to monitor machine usage and health. By monitoring location and ensuring efficient planning for rental equipment, Skylo helps these businesses run more efficiently, making profits and saving costs.
Skylo plays a critical role in equipment rental, empowering farming as a service (FaaS) owners to manage and track the location and movements of their tractors and other machinery, ultimately, helping farmers harvest more profit from their fields. Much of India’s farming takes place in rural areas that have little to no cell service. Here, equipment operators are typically dispatched from FaaS service centers with the day’s work schedule, returning in the evening, with little or no contact in between. The Skylo solution helps CHCs achieve a more accurate and digital billing process, up to the minute oversight should changes or breakdowns occur, and driver and machinery safety with the use of real-time 2-way messaging and SOS alerting.
As technology adoption gathers momentum, the large-scale adoption of innovative technologies is available to farmers through satellite IoT advancements and Skylo is delivering affordable solutions that help farmers take advantage of constant, reliable connectivity.
Prateek: How is NB-IoT relevant for the fisheries sector? Who is availing the technology – Individual fishermen or Government? How has been the response so far?
Angira Agrawal: In India, 1.4 Crores of the population depends on the fisheries sector for its livelihood. The current addressable market is around 250,000 boats across the 9 coastal states.
Skylo connects fishermen even when they are 300 nautical miles out to sea, helping them sell all their catch at better prices (and reduce wastage of fish), be in touch with their families, and reach out for help in case of emergencies (last year, seven fishermen aboard a small fishing boat were saved when a nearby boat equipped with Skylo’s 2-way communication technology raised an alarm with the boat owner and the Maharashtra Coastal Security when their boat was destroyed and sank).
We recently introduced our Skylo Fish Catch Reporting App which allows fishermen to send details of their catch by initiating the selling process while they are still hundreds of nautical miles out at sea, giving them the opportunity to secure the best prices for their catch and increase earnings by 30-50%. It also helps the buyers and suppliers plan their operations better and get desired quality of fish.
We recently partnered with India’s National Federation of Fishers Cooperatives Ltd. (FISHCOPFED), the apex institution of the Indian Fisheries Cooperative Movement, to deliver our IoT solutions to marine fishing and aquaculture sectors, including monitoring oxygen, pH, and other minerals of water in ponds across the states (aquaculture and inland fisheries) and enhancing fish yields and profitability for the fish farmers.
Prateek: What is the scope of NB-IoT deployment in the healthcare sector?
Angira Agrawal: Skylo enables reliable connectivity to rural health care centers for immediate doctor/patient communications, as well as ambulances for up-to-the-minute routing, giving everyone on the value chain critical information, which ultimately improves health outcomes. Skylo delivers real-time actionable intelligence to healthcare decision-makers, doctors, key frontline workers, and families, no matter where the health centers are located. This kind of real-time connectivity solution strengthens India’s health care options in all regions.
Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the need for advancements in rural healthcare, as well as proper and proven logistics when it comes to delivering medications and vaccines. Skylo’s end-to-end connectivity solution can support India’s aggressive and ongoing plans to continuously and securely monitor the logistics associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, Liquified Medical Oxygen, and other life-saving supplies.
Even as India continues to increase the pace and scale of what is arguably the world’s largest vaccination drive, its logistics industry is under great pressure. Skylo’s always-on, continuous “chain of custody” of the vaccines offers an effective way to locate various fleets and medications on a Virtual Map, and it also provides a sure-fire visibility trail that proves the medications were kept at the right temperatures along the entire journey.
Prateek: What are some of the solutions that Skylo provides for disaster management?
Angira Agrawal: Skylo’s solution is especially relevant for effective disaster management. Skylo makes it possible to “sense and see” entire areas, all the time, putting vital information in the hands of the right people who can make immediate decisions before disaster hits.
Skylo is also helping governments and various industries monitor critical operations, especially in remote areas. ONGC Tripura is deploying Skylo for control over their vehicles and goods, faster response to emergencies with SOS alerts, and driver safety, and at the same time efficient utilization of vehicles, route optimization, and real-time demand and delivery insights. Skylo delivers connectivity in very remote areas like vast forests where wildfires can occur, along stretches of rivers where floods could overtake communities, on oil rigs where there is potential to experience emergencies, and other locations where various potential hazards can be monitored and alerts can be sent to preparation teams and communities as early warning signs.
Prateek: What will be the roadmap for expansion and growth in the coming years? Are there any particular verticals that the company will target precisely?
Angira Agrawal: Since our launch in December 2020, we have been deploying across India. In February 2021, Skylo and Beetel partnered to rapidly scale the adoption of end-to-end IoT solutions across India. We recently announced a partnership with Inmarsat to deploy connectivity around the world. Skylo has also partnered with Softbank to offer satellite-based IoT to governments, enterprises, and businesses in Japan.
We believe we can become the de-facto standard for space-based IoT solutions. We set ourselves up for success last year and are scaling our business quickly, with an extreme focus on affordability and customer experience. We see the adoption over the last 6-8 months resulting in a transformative change in the way Digital India connects machines and sensors and uses the 100% available data to make decisions that benefit businesses and the economy.
We’re excited to help our customers reimagine the possible.
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