Public LoRaWAN launched by ICFOSS to give a boost to IoT deployment in Kerala

n a major boost to start-ups and the SME sector, the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous institution under the Kerala government, commissioned the first public LoRaWAN in the state, which provides long range communications using very low power levels for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Shri M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, Electronics and IT Department, made the public launch by receiving information on moisture content in soil from a sensor connected to the Internet through LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network).

“This network will encourage SME and start-ups establish commercially viable Proof of Concepts and scale it up to the next level,” he said.

The event also witnessed the launch of the Thiruvananthapuram chapter of The Things network community and release of the ( website aimed at making available a knowledge database for creating IoT projects using Open Source Hardware and Software.

The launch had a short seminar on “What, Why and How to use LoRaWAN” by the Open IoT wing of ICFOSS, which was followed by demonstration of LoRa-based IoT projects by two companies, smart parking solution by Elvicto Technologies Pvt Ltd and smart water metering solution by Livares Technologies Pvt Ltd.

During the event, Open IoT lab of ICFOSS demonstrated LoRa-enabled sensor nodes, including soil moisture, particle matter, oxygen (gas), and rain placed at various locations in Technopark. The sensors were spread across Technopark demonstrating the range and low power capabilities of the technology.

“The technology demands no licensing of radio spectrum for the operation of the network which brings down the cost for deployment and improves scalability of the system by major folds,” Dr. Jayasankar Prasad. Director ICFOSS, said.

“ICFOSS will be working closely with communities like The Things network for evolving a free and open IoT ecosystem for developers and entrepreneurs in Kerala,” he added.

Quit line on tobacco packs: Doctors and former smokers hail move

The Government of India’s decision to include the quit line number – 1800-11-2356 – on all tobacco packs from 1 September 2018, would be a boon for those who want to quit tobacco use, but do not know how to, say health experts and former smokers.

Help is just a call away and all a smoker or tobacco user needs to do is to dial the toll free National Tobacco Quit line of the Union Health Ministry.  At the other end, trained counsellors will listen to the smoker or tobacco user’s history and advise appropriate solutions and strategies to quit this deadly habit in a time-bound manner.

Appreciating the Union Government’s move, the State President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Kerala Chapter Dr EK Ummer said, “Including the quit line number through all tobacco product packs will increase its familiarity with both users and non-users, leading to more number of users coming forward to quit voluntarily.”

On the new set with grotesque images of oral cancers, Dr Ummer added, “As a doctor, it pains me to see these visuals. It will surely act as a deterrent to smokers and tobacco users.”

Dr KR Thankappan, Emeritus Professor, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, who for long has campaigned building up tobacco cessation infrastructure in the state and the country said, “Tobacco cessation rates in India are as low as 2-3 per cent. While this tells us about the extremely addictive nature of tobacco products, it is also a pointer to inadequate cessation services.”

“The decision to include the quit line number along with the revised pictorial warnings is a welcome first step,” he added even while calling for extending the service in all major Indian languages including the current English and Hindi versions.

Shri Suresh KC, Secretary, ‘Munnetam’ – a collective of tobacco quitters formed by Malabar Cancer Centre, Thalasherry said, “The quit line service will be helpful to all those who earnestly want to give up various forms of tobacco use.” This former smoker and tobacco user quit at the age of 35 years in 2015 after having started as a 17-year-old.  ‘Munnetam’ has over 160 successful tobacco quitters in it.

Kerala Government to start Online Taxi

Inspired by the sucess of online taxi companies like OLA / UBER and as per recommendation by the central ministry of land transport and national highway to improve transportation facilities across India, Kerala Government is about start an online taxi and auto booking service.

In the first phase, it will be started like Trivandrum, Kochi and Kozhikode and if it turns out to be a successful project then more cities and towns will be included in the list.

The project is being implemented by joining hands with Motor Vehicle Welfare Boadd ( Motor Thozhili Kshema Nidhi Board ), Kerala Motor Vehicles Department and Legal Metrology Department.

Kerala state welfare board has already outlined the prospective business opportu ities of this project and it has been presented before the authorised trade unions in Kerala.

Government has assigned Ooralunkal Labour Co-Operatve society based is Kozhikode to provide the initial technical support.

Is there still a untapped opportunity in online taxi business in Kerala?

Considering the fact that online taxi service is a huge success around the world and with UBER being the global leader, is it actually a success in Kerala.

During the initial phase of online taxi service in Kerala there were immense offers from the online taxi providers to lure the customers but later on they have increased their charges. That ended up in a considerable drop in business and the companies had to reduce the number of special offers to the customers and eventually many cars which were attached with the taxi business had to withdraw.

The major players like the OLA and UBER is still on a price war trying to lure more customers in hiring their cars, where lies the opportunity of Government sponsored online taxi service.

Just like how Jio has entered into the telecom industry with bang and offered their services at a a never before price and grabbed a lion’s share of the telecom market, new online taxi services have to venture themselves into the market with irresistible offers.

Concerned central ministry has also notified that those states that take up initiative for innovative projects related to land transportation has to be promptly issue license for its operations. These steps by the central government has also paved the way for this innovative transportation project.

State President of Motor, Taxi and Light Motor Workers Federation (CITU) Mr. K.S Sunil Kumar has welcomed decision.