Smart Cities

Smart Cities

Smart City is a blending of current and emerging technologies being employed to allow a city to better manage its assets and deliver value to its residents. It is an emerging concept and still very much in exploration. The 2 core technology areas being investigated as the primary value creators are ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and the IoT (Internet of Things).

 

Smart City

Smart City

What isn’t fully understood is the relationships between any or all of the list below:

 

  • what is worth measuring?
  • how to measure it (what sensor, what platform)?
  • how often?
  • in what detail?
  • to learn what from?
  • how quickly to transport the reading?
  • how much will it cost to transport the data?
  • via what technologies?
  • stored how?
  • accessed how?
  • analysed how?

Quite a big list.

 

Did you know there is a Smart Cities Plan for Australia? I only recently found out. And if you read through it there are more questions than answers. Which I think is the right balance given where we are positioned in trying to understand what is possible versus what is useful.

 

Smart Cities Plan

Smart Cities Plan

There are some obvious areas already being tackled by ICT systems. These include:

 

  • transport logistics (road, rail, freight, air, sea)
  • public transport
  • utility services (gas, water, electricity, waste)
  • weather prediction
  • environmental monitoring

And there are a range of trials underway to try and understand what using a broader sensor mix and more widely deployed sensors might do to improve amenity, even if they aren’t all very high quality sensors. Again the questions come back to:

 

  • what sensors?
  • how many and where?
  • how accurate?
  • how much do they and their platform cost?
  • measured how often?
  • at what latency?
  • what to do with the data?

 

Smart Cities Segments

Smart Cities Segments

IoT Challenges

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) has a huge promise to live up to, there is a still a lot of confusion over how to go about it. This breaks up into 3 distinct areas.

 

IoT Hardware

The first is the IoT Hardware device that is deployed to the field. These come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, power profiles and capabilities. So we are seeing everything from full computing platform devices (Windows, Linux, Other) deployed as well as tiny resource constrained platforms such as Sensor Node devices. Examples of the later are Wimoto Motes and our own FLEXIO Telemetry devices which are OS-less Sensor Nodes.

The trade offs are between:

 

  • power consumption
  • power supply
  • always online versus post on a schedule or by exception
  • cost (device, data, installation, maintenance)
  • size
  • open standard versus proprietary
  • upgrade capable (over the air OTA firmware or software capability)
  • security

As of a month ago, the KPMG IoT Innovation Network reported there are 450 different IoT platforms available. And most don’t talk to each other. Many lock you in. Many only work with their specific hardware. So picking a hardware platform is only part of the challenge. And new products appear every week.

 

IoT Innovation Network

IoT Innovation Network

IoT Communications

The second area of challenge is the communications. Everyone is trying to get away from Cellular IoT Communications because the Telecommunications Companies pricing model has traditionally been higher than they want to pay, and because the power required means you need a much higher power budget. So there has been a push to find other options which has opened the way for players like LoRa and sigfox.

 

However the CAT-M1 and NB-IoT Telecommunications Standards mean that the pendulum could easily go back the other way. CAT-M1 reduces the data rate (no streaming video needed for most IoT devices) and changes the modulation scheme so you get a better range at a much lower power consumption. And unlike sigfox, you aren’t severely constrained on how much data you can move or how often. CAT-M1 has just gone live in Australia on the Telstra network and we are about to do our first trials.

 

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

NB-IoT doesn’t yet have an official availability date but we aren’t too concerned about that. NB-IoT is really aimed at the smart meter market and similar devices which have low amounts of data and upload it infrequently. So a water meter running off battery for 10+ years is an example of what it is targeting. We will find CAT-M1 a lot more useful. And the modules that support CAT-M1 currently also support NB-IoT so we are designing now and can make the decision later.

 

IoT Back End

The third area of challenge is the back end. Pick the wrong data service and storage provider and you could find you don’t own your own data and you have to pay every time you want a report on it. And you can’t get at it to port it to another system. And if the volume of data grows the cost can grow even faster as many offer a low entry point but the pricing get expensive quickly once you exceed the first threshold.

 

Because of this there is an strongly emerging preference for open systems or for systems that do allow you to push and pull data as it suits you.

 

So our strategy to date has been to provide our own intermediate web service and then republish the data in the required format to suit the end user / client. The result is the best of both worlds. We can deploy resource constrained field devices which are low power and low cost, then communicate with high security and high cost platforms using the intermediate service to do the heavy lifting. And we don’t try and imprison the data and trap the client.

 

The service is called Telemetry Host and was a finalist for IT Application of the Year in Australia in 2015 at the Endeavour Awards. And again for the PACE Zenith Awards in both 2015 and 2016.

 

Telemetry Host

Telemetry Host

This isn’t the only approach and so we also create devices and incorporate protocols that allow them to directly connect to other systems. This includes porting our core IP to other URLs which are then owned by our clients. So far we haven’t found that one single approach suits every scenario.

 

Smart City

You can’t be smart if you don’t know anything. And this is certainly true for Smart Cities. To be a Smart City requires Sensors and Telemetry. But the jury is still out on how much and what kind.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

 

PACE Zenith Award Winners 2015

PACE Zenith Awards

The PACE Zenith Awards 2015 celebrate the process control and automation industry€™s many and diverse successes. The PACE Zenith Awards bring together some of the biggest names in Process Control, Instrumentation and Automation to celebrate, recognise and award companies and individuals for their key contribution to Australian industry. 

 

The awards winners were announced at the PACE Zenith Awards dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney on June 11th 2015.

 

This year we were finalists in 4 categories with the Power and Energy Management category having 2 projects selected as finalists.

 

Successful Endeavours Finalists PACE ZENITH 2015

Successful Endeavours Finalists PACE ZENITH 2015

The categories we were finalists in were:

 

  • Water and Wastewater – for our IoT Monitoring Platform + Telemetry Host
  • Best Fieldbus Implementation – for our IoT Monitoring PlatformTelemetry Host
  • Power and Energy Management – for our IoT Monitoring Platform  + Telemetry Host and the ABB CQ930
  • Transport Power and Infrastructure – for the ABB CQ930

 

PACE Zenith Awards - 5 Finalist Certificates - Successful Endeavours 2015

PACE Zenith Awards – 5 Finalist Certificates – Successful Endeavours 2015

 

PACE Zenith Awards 2015 Winners

So we didn’t win a category, but it was a great night and I always enjoy being part of celebrating what is good in Australian Manufacturing. The winners on the night were:

 

  • BEST FIELDBUS IMPLEMENTATION = Sigma NSW
  • FOOD AND BEVERAGE = B.-d.Farm Paris Creek
  • MACHINE BUILDER  = H.I.Fraser
  • MANUFACTURING = ANCA
  • MINING AND MINERALS PROCESSING = Sigma NSW
  • OIL AND GAS = H.I.Fraser
  • POWER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT = Mescada
  • TRANSPORT, POWER AND INFRASTRUCTURE = Sage Automation
  • WATER AND WASTEWATER = Sage Automation
  • YOUNG ACHIEVER AWARD = Aaron Deal, Honeywell Process Solutions
  • PROJECT OF THE YEAR = H.I.Fraser

 

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

This was our first time at these awards so we learnt a lot about the process and hope to be back next year.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.