Using oneM2M, our data hub for Daegu city collects and links data for a hundred different services. We plan to export it to other local governments”


For this interview, Seon-woo Yi of nTels in South Korea describes his early work on IoT systems and the evolution of solution requirements as attention has shifted to innovative ways of working with data.



Q: Would you begin with some introductory information about yourself?

SW: Thank you for inviting me to speak about our work with IoT systems. My name is Seon-woo Yi and have been developing a platform based on research and analysis of oneM2M and various standards in the IoT field for about 8 years.

Currently, I belong to the IoT Cloud Service Platform team of a company called nTels in Korea. We provide operational support systems (OSS) and professional service capabilities across the telecommunications and IoT sectors.

Some of our recent IoT work has focused on data governance, combining AI as well as data collection. We are working to link oneM2M’s Interworking Proxy Entity (IPE) to NGSI-LD and various other standards. You can think of the IPE as a means of enabling bi-directional communications between oneM2M and non-oneM2M systems. A non-oneM2M system might use a sector-specific standard, such as OPC-UA in the case of industrial controllers or LWM2M for device management. This is oneM2M’s way to provide a unified abstraction layer for developers and bring data from different technology environments into a common setting.

NGSI-LD is an example of a non-oneM2M technology that defines an information model and API for publishing, querying, and subscribing to context information about entities, their properties and, relationships to other entities. NGSI-LD stands for Next Generation Service Interfaces - Linked Data and was drafted by an industry specification group in ETSI.

Q2. What exactly does it mean to move beyond data collection and fuse AI capabilities?

SW: In the past, the goal was to collect and load various types of data from as many places as possible. Now, we are trying to derive new data that is difficult to infer from collected data. We do this by storing metadata about the collected data and linking it to an AI-based analysis platform. Ultimately, we want to develop and sell high-value services inspired by new data.

Q3. What markets does nTels cover and what are some of the requirements you are seeing in the marketplace?

SW: We are interested in overall services in the IoT field and are looking at various opportunities while distributing N-MAS (nTels M2M Application Server), which is our own platform based on oneM2M. We cover IoT and Industrial IoT areas, mainly involving B2B (business to business) activities. Recently, we started to develop B2G (business to government) opportunities. We distribute oneM2M server solutions to various local governments and linking services. That is how we reached the point of analysing collected data to discover new services opportunities.

This is the perspective of the IoT market these days, in my opinion. Data collection technology is pervasive. Everyone is collecting and loading data in some way. Everyone is also wondering how to use that data. Cooperation with the AI field can solve these concerns. By linking existing collected data and metadata, new data is created, which provides new inspiration to create services. Data collected by IoT can be used more efficiently if areas that humans cannot perceive are converted into data and analysed.

Q4. What kinds of customers does nTels serve?

SW: We have mainly developed billing solution-based projects with OSS (Operations Support System) and BSS (Business Support System) businesses targeting telecommunication companies. It was a company that realized the needs of various customers with B2B as the main stage, but recently the aspect has changed a little. We have created project opportunities in various fields such as energy, smart city, and factories, and are also conducting B2G business based on IoT and communication solutions.

Our company's main B2B customers include SK Group companies such as SK Telecom and SK Hynix as well as KEPCO and the Ministry of Justice and local governments in the B2G category. In the future, we plan to further expand our business area, and my team is also planning to expand its business to AI.

Q5. To what extent do other capabilities or offering within nTels have synergies with IoT?

SW: Our company has a billing solution for mobile communication and is currently conducting a private 5G deployment in cooperation with our parent company, HFR. In addition, we have transferred some of nTels’ systems to a hybrid cloud and operated them in parallel with the old on-premise system. We are considering various versions of the distribution environment to meet customer needs, and we have a separate team for building our own cloud system.

Of course, SI (System Integration) is also actively carried out, and high-quality projects are being reborn as another solution through the Internalization Process.

Q5. Would you explain a bit more about the Internalization Process?

SW: The Internalization Process refers to a series of processes in which SI achievements that can become high value services are turned into nTels solutions. This is a way for us to learn from new customer experiences and seize various business opportunities that pass by. After the project is over, the above process is repeated to find another customer with similar needs to the first customer.

So far, our IoT solutions include N-MAS, an oneM2M-based platform, and NGSI-LD-based Data-Core, a standard that can infer associations between entities with metadata-based Linked-Data. In addition, there is N-DATA, which completed data governance by combining IPE and AI developed for various services and customer environments.

Q8. As you look back over the years, what are your impressions of how Korea’s IoT market is developing?

SW: As elsewhere, the IoT market in Korea has already become a standard for openly used technology.  There are quite a few companies that provide IoT platform-based solutions, and the technology is being used in various places such as industries and smart cities. Industries deal with the lifespan of various devices, collect sensor data, and operate factories based on this. In smart cities, services are provided using NB-IoT-based meter reading services, and public services using weather and environment-based data collection are actively being developed.

However, the IoT market in Korea continues to raise questions about how to use this collected data in new ways. That is why we are interested in service development from a new perspective through data analysis, moving beyond data collection. We are already constructing a data market for use in several projects.

Q7. How is nTels is involved with oneM2M?

SW: nTels has been developing and servicing M2M services for telecom companies for the past 20 years. We have developed our own standards-based platform and developed its competitiveness over many years.

nTels’ relationship with oneM2M began about 10 years ago while carrying out a oneM2M-related project with SKT and KETI (Korea Electronics Technology Institute). Afterwards, I was able to have various project opportunities based on our IoT platform technology. I developed a oneM2M tester that developers can use, and I also made several standard-related contributions to oneM2M through the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) which is one of oneM2M’s founding partners.

As we celebrate oneM2M’s 10th anniversary, I would like to add that oneM2M has made quite a lot of progress while walking a slow but sure path to grow together with various standards rather than taking an isolated path. My experience in the field of IoT at nTels was also a valuable time that could not be exchanged for anything, and the experience of numerous interoperability tests and Technical Plenaries was also an opportunity to get closer to oneM2M. I am proud of the appearance of oneM2M that is used in various fields not only abroad but also in Korea, and I have high expectations for its future development.

Q9. nTels supports Daegu city's smart city platform. Would you describe that project for our readers?

SW: We built a data hub platform in Daegu City and created a data collection and analysis platform with SKT for a total of 5 years in collaboration with several consortiums. About 100 services are linked, and data is collected from various places such as disasters, social safety, and facilities.

In this project, oneM2M is in charge of collection, and NGSI-LD combines collected data and metadata to provide a basis for establishing a data structure that is easy to analyse. Based on this, we are planning to spread it to various surrounding local governments and actually plan to spread it to Jeju Island and other cities.

The reason why oneM2M was selected for data collection is that it has already been designated as an international standard and its reliability has been verified with a considerable number of references in Korea. We are focusing on spreading the data hub platform as soon as possible.

Q9. Are you working on other interesting applications that are innovative or changing the way that business is carried out?

SW: Perhaps one interesting application is in the field of making predictions based on aggregated data. As an example, we are working on the Safty 2.0 program in collaboration with Korea Land & Housing. This agency provides services such as predicting dangerous areas and recommending police patrol routes in collaboration with local government agencies. In the past, we used our oneM2M platform to collect data from several sources. The interesting part now is that we are applying analytics and predictions to the data while working with actual government offices. This is meaningful because we are moving beyond IoT connectivity and into data analysis.

Currently, we are making progress on constructing data hubs for several local government. Once this is completed, it will be possible to construct a nationwide prediction service-based social safety net. We still need to review the effectiveness of the service that is being implemented on a pilot basis. We also need to listen a little more to the stories of citizens. After that, we will need to consider whether the range of data collected for safety can protect the privacy of citizens. In this situation, we are developing business with various local manufacturers and distributing IoT-based platforms to many places.