How can you ensure end-to-end interoperability between products and services?

In July Actility, a provider of low power wide area (LPWA) networking and the company behind the ThingPark LPWA IoT platform, launched the ThingPark Approved programme. Actility also welcomed the first partners to achieve ThingPark Approved status. Here, Jeremy Cowan of IoT Now asks Christophe Francois, the vice president of Ecosystem at Actility, how to ensure service interoperability

Covering the solution spectrum from sensors and modules to gateways and ultimately applications, ThingPark Approved products are evaluated across a range of interfaces and integration points to ensure interoperability within an end-toend solution. Highlighting the diversity of partners in the ThingPark Ecosystem, Actility announced ThingPark Approved status for Adeunis RF, AllThingsTalk, ATIM, Daliworks, Expemb, Finsecur, Flashnet, Foxconn, Globalsat, IMST, Kerlink, Microchip, MultiTech, MyDevices, Nemeus, NKE-Watteco, Omniimpex, Rising HF and Sensing Labs.

IoT Now: What is Actility’s goal with the ThingPark Approved programme?

Christophe Francois: Actility aims to help its partners simplify IoT deployment, accelerate IoT roll-out, and grow IoT revenue. The goal of the ThingPark Approved programme is to help our partners (device manufacturers, gateway manufacturers, design house, solutions providers, application developers) to fast-track their IoT solutions to market. ThingPark partners can connect and conduct interoperability testing of their products with our platform to achieve ThingPark Approved status, interact with other solution providers in the ThingPark ecosystem, and then market and sell their solutions in the ThingPark MarketPlace.

The ThingPark Approved programme also gives our Partners the opportunity to participate in comarketing activity, join the ThingPark Approved partner catalogue, and all will be able to display the ThingPark Approved logo on their products, collateral and web-sites.

Lastly, the ThingPark Approved Programme will give confidence to the operators of a ThingParkpowered IoT network that a product to be connected to their network is fully functional and will inter-operate with the network without causing any network issues.

IoT Now: When did work start with programme partners on their Approvals? How long do Approvals generally take to complete?

CF: The first partners’ products began testing around six months ago, in February 2016. Approvals will usually be completed within two weeks (depending on how often the end device application can be set to send an uplink message). Actility is currently working on automating this test procedure, so that in the medium term, it will be executed directly by the partner through a user dashboard in the ThingPark Partner web site.

IoT Now: What is the process that partners must go through for Approval?

CF: The partner must first join the Partner Programme on-line through our ThingPark Partner web site (trial periods are available for developers or device partners). When joining the programme, the partner agrees and signs the Partner Agreement online. Then the partner:

  • Pays at least the annual subscription fee (€500) and the test package fee (€500 per device/channel plan).
  • Submits a description of its product on line
  • Provides sample device(s) to Actility for testing
  • Tracks and manages the evaluation process to achieve ThingPark Approved status through a Partner Dashboard After becoming ThingPark Approved, the partner can join the Marketplace to promote and market its products with the ThingPark Approved logo.

IoT Now: You describe this as a business enabler, not a certification programme. Can you expand on that?

CF: The ThingPark Approval programme is not a replacement for the LoRa Alliance LORaWAN Certification process, which is aimed at radio and network behaviour rather than end to end service interoperability. It is complementary to it, by ensuring that the ThingPark approved product can easily be connected to the ThingPark platform and provide the application data to where it is needed.

IoT Now: In the absence of global IoT standards we are seeing the rise of ecosystems. Will they remove the need for some standards?

CF: The global IoT market is growing very fast and the big challenge for the normal standards bodies is to be able to ratify, implement and productise IoT standards in a timely manner. In the meantime, market driven industrial alliance standards are available to bridge the gap until they can be incorporated by the formal standards bodies. Actility believes that open innovation around shared standards is the proven way of growing a market, and we can see examples of both formal standards-body driven success stories and industry alliances such as the internet or global mobile telephony, and the Bluetooth protocol.

IoT Now: The ThingPark ecosystem covers a wide spread of solutions. Can you give our readers an Idea of the range? What types of solution are included?

CF: Thanks to its partners’ diversity, the ThingPark Ecosystem covers a wide range of products from sensors and modules, through gateways and connectivity, to application platforms, data analytics and end user applications. As a result, the full breadth of IoT vertical markets are covered: Smart Cities, Factories and Industrial applications, Agriculture, Facility Management, Health care or dedicated networks for specific verticals, such as airport management.

Christophe Francois
ChristopheFrancois: Open innovation around shared standards is the proven way of growing a market

Examples of applications include air quality measurement, cattle tracking and health monitoring, energy efficient street lighting solutions, smart parking, monitoring wind turbine performance and maintenance requirement, and even better mousetraps – which report when they have trapped a rodent, optimising the efficiency of the pest control operatives that empty them.

IoT Now: Can you give examples of how the scheme has accelerated IoT deployments?

CF: The ThingPark Approved programme guarantees easy and quick connection of any Approved product to a LPWA Network to provide the desired service, without any risk for the manufacturer nor for the network operator. This programme also accelerates the partner onboarding to ThingPark, builds market awareness for them through our partner catalogue and grows their business through ThingPark marketplace.

This scheme and its associated tools (web site with partner zone, interoperability procedure partially automatised, etc.) constitute a way for our partners to fast-track their IoT projects to Market. The ThingPark Approved programme optimises and industrialises a process that has already supported accelerated deployments such as the national LoRaWAN IoT networks rolled out by KPN in the Netherlands or Proximus in Belgium, both of which are already supporting applications such as smart parking, airport asset tracking and facilities management – including better mousetraps.

IoT Now: What are the next steps for Actility and ThingPark?

CF: The ThingPark Approved programme is the latest stage in the development of Actility’s ThingPark IoT solutions platform. Alongside ThingPark Marketplace, the platform comprises the ThingPark Wireless LPWA network, providing long-range coverage for low-power consumption sensors, and ThingPark Mash-up, enabling developers to create applications using the installed base of ThingPark Approved sensors, exposing sensor capabilities and access to sensor data through open APIs.

With large scale national IoT deployments continuing around the globe, the footprint of ThingPark powered networks is expanding rapidly. Actility will also now begin to target enterprise customers and solutions with our partners such as Cisco and Inmarsat.


How will OEMs manufacture the smart factories of the future?

Posted on: September 23, 2022

“By 2025, there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices. Someone is going to have to manufacture these, and OEMs are gearing up to enable as many functions as possible to be integrated into the devices they build.”REGISTER NOW TO READIoT relies on manufacturing efficiency to get massive volumes of devices out into the

Read more

IoT meets the property sector to combat rising energy costs and climate change while increasing property value

Posted on: September 23, 2022

Ericsson released a Connected Buildings Energy Management report in partnership with Nordic property technology company Kiona and Arthur D. Little.

Read more

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox