Using API Management as catalyst to implement IoT infrastructure in developing countries

Working in my first UX Designer job brought me to the world of API Management and Developer Experience that surrounds the implementation and maintenance of APIs. I came to see the real-life technology revolutions EU countries are committed upon by introducing IoT infrastructures on different application levels. As Bangladesh is aiming towards the vision 2021 as a “Digital Country”, there are huge potentials and opportunities of applying IoT infrastructure to bring good outcomes in business, economy, manufacturing and service automation. So it is high time for tech entrepreneurs to give a serious thought about how API management can contribute towards this mammoth cause and how collaborative community work can face this challenge.

Internet of Things or IoT infrastructure is built across uniquely identifiable devices embedded within electronic appliances, software or sensors by using networking infrastructure standards created by International Telecommunication Union (ITU). By integrating physical world with computing systems, these devices can exchange exabytes upon exabytes of data and give us access to them while operating in the existing internet infrastructure. The IT and Networking giant CISCO predicts the number of these connected devices to reach 50 billions by 2020. IoT promises revolutionary outcome in business, manufacturing, service automation, etc. by bringing fast, efficient and accurate processing.

IoT — The new buzz word

The notion of IoT might be a mystery to general population of developing countries like Bangladesh. But thanks to initiatives taken by respective governments to bring bigger economic movements, academician people and tech entrepreneurs are showing more interest towards implementation and application of IoT infrastructures. The government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh wishes to develop “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021 — a vision for modernizing the country by using information and communication technology effectively. “Digital Bangladesh” focuses on the development of human resources, involving mass population towards development activities, structuring civil services and using IT in business. The vision itself gives necessary and sufficient reasoning to implement a flourishing IoT industry in Bangladesh. There are many possible application areas (e.g. public transport, industrial controls, agriculture, river transportation, energy sector, flood forecast, healthcare, etc.) that can support the introduction to IoT services in Bangladesh. Also there is growing interest among local entrepreneurs and specialist towards this trend.

Fig 1: An IoT based, realtime flood monitoring system

So how to make an IoT service to work and be useful? By connecting these devices to the cloud. Cloud base services provide IoT devices access to data. Apart from setting up a massive, scalable network using cell phone towers and CISCO routers, enabling IoT requires providing supports like RFID, IPv6, Big Data and last but not the list, APIs (a.k.a Application Programming Interfaces). APIs, specifically RESTful (using HTTP requests to access and modify data) ones, work as powerful portals to bridge IoT with useful data information and data crunching capabilities.

IoT establishment and addressing issues like scalability of the network size, nature of IoT devices and most importantly, people operating the devices bring forward the need of a solid API Management system. API management systems organize solutions like gateways, security and access management under a single umbrella with potential fail-safe scenarios.

Fig: API Management in a nutshell

How API management can help here?

  1. By ensuring API developers have capability to identify IoT devices, the authority to allow connecting the devices to their APIs and the rights to revoke the access when necessary.
  2. By enabling single or aggregated connection between IoT devices and applications.
  3. By monitoring APIs for their usage, identifying real-time anomalies and notifying failures — with proper analytics and notification systems
  4. By analyzing Developer eXperience of the APIs by comparing market standards and consumer feedback.
  5. By providing usage quota, throttling, prioritization and scaling of the APIs to maintain their availability. (especially with IoT infrastructure involving emergency services)
  6. By providing options to maintain multiple versions of APIs (along with their most updated ones) and provisions of their safe decommission if needed.

APIs are like skybridge for IoT infrastructures. However the whole notion may result with disastrous outcomes if proper management of APIs are not ensured. As Bangladesh is heading towards IT revolution with potential implementation of IoT services, this is a perfect opportunity for technology entrepreneurs and specialists to come forward and take initiatives to build up a community dedicated towards API development, usage and maintenance. This might be the “new thing’ for the locals, but with empathy and collaborative works, who knows about the unseen revolutions that can reach Bangladesh to new heights!

References:

  1. Internet of Things Forecasts & Opportunities in Bangladesh
  2. Without API Management, The Internet of Things is just a big thing.