Opinion: Why emerging markets should choose GSM LPWAN for IIoT projects

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OPINION Neil Hamilton, VP of Business Development at Thingstream, explains why businesses in emerging markets should choose GSM-based LPWAN connectivity to realise the full potential of IIoT projects.

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An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.

The rapid adoption of consumer and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications in developed markets, powered by the cloud, has already changed the way in which services are consumed, and their potential is vast. However, the potential for the IIoT in developing markets is also enormous; IDC predicts that projects in Africa and the Middle East alone will grow to a market valuation of $ 7 billion in 2018.

However, fragmented connectivity and infrastructures in these regions are still significant barriers to deploying effective, widespread IIoT systems.

The challenge in emerging markets

Current low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) struggle to provide full coverage outside of major cities and towns even in developed nations, so overcoming fragmented rural connectivity in emerging markets is far from easy.

While cellular data connectivity in most developing markets remains limited, it is still more prevalent than other LPWANs offered by unlicensed providers; these still need to connect to a cellular network to communicate with the IoT ecosystem.

This is why businesses need a cost-effective, reliable, secure, and low-power option that provides ubiquitous connectivity, using the existing infrastructure.

There are many industries in these markets in which cellular or unlicensed technologies severely restrict the deployment of IIoT applications, largely due to a lack of roaming coverage.

For example, an organisation that wishes to track its assets across borders in rural areas will be unable to have full visibility of goods whenever connections are lost. Similarly, for fixed-location services where there is a lack of coverage, regularly sending data to the cloud isn’t always possible. And when a network is available, cellular roaming charges can be prohibitively expensive.

GSM-based low-power connectivity

The most ubiquitous network is the established GSM voice network, which is now available in more than 190 countries and is increasingly reliable, especially when compared with cellular data.

IoT devices can automatically connect wherever GSM connectivity is present, using the strongest network available. This avoids disruption when moving between carriers on a cellular signal, ensuring worldwide connectivity. So it makes sense to leverage this network, as other internet-based options are unable to compete in terms of cost, reliability, and coverage.

One solution is low-bandwidth messaging, achieved through a Message Queue Telemetry Transport for Sensor Networks (MQTT-SN) system. Communicating across a USSD messaging protocol that’s available on the GSM voice network, this lightweight publish/subscribe protocol can send tiny packets of data –160 bytes or less – providing true ubiquitous IoT connectivity.

This is boosted by the inclusion of integrated Quality of Service (QoS), allowing an MQTT-SN protocol to handle the transmission and re-transmission of messages, guaranteeing delivery to the corresponding ‘thing’ or application. The level of QoS is fully customisable for IoT adopters, depending on network security and application logic.

Furthermore, IoT sensors can be programmed to communicate almost any type of information that can be carried across a low-bandwidth signal, avoiding the need to have multiple devices that further clog the network.

The power issue is also circumnavigated, thanks to the way in which the devices can work. By sending data only when needed, a device’s on/off setup enables battery longevity to be maximised, not only for months, but for years, creating a true LPWAN.

This is also advantageous in emerging markets with unreliable power grids, where outages are more commonplace. Instead of sending data at regular intervals, data can be delivered when parameters have changed. For example, this would allow for remote condition monitoring of equipment, allowing for maintenance to be better planned for and more predictable.

Furthermore, data is not communicated using the internet, greatly improving cyber security by having no need to use IP addresses between devices and the connectivity platform, helping to keep connectivity levels high and costs low.

For devices that are remotely connected via the internet, the issue of securely bridging the ‘air gap’ between operational technology and IT systems continues to prove a major challenge for the safe transfer of data, which again favours GSM connectivity.

Choosing the right connectivity for emerging markets

The emergence of LPWANs, such as a GSM voice-based network, has forced businesses in emerging markets to change how they approach IoT deployments. This is because they need to think about what data is actually required from devices and how often that data is needed.

If this can be included in 160 bytes or less, why pay for an energy-sapping internet connection that is costly to implement and run, while also being visible to potential hackers?

An alternative, GSM voice-based network is the strongest and most reliable option that offers true global connectivity for IoT devices to communicate in emerging markets. Using a network with an already-established infrastructure offers huge advantages in scalability, connectivity, security, and cost.

Choosing such a network can enhance efficiencies in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, logistics, and utilities, all of which are economically crucial in emerging markets. This type of connectivity will enable IIoT projects to be quickly accelerated in developing countries, helping to create a truly global supply chain.

Internet of Business says: This opinion piece has been provided by Thingstream, and not by our independent editorial team.

The post Opinion: Why emerging markets should choose GSM LPWAN for IIoT projects appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Two New Renewable Energy Projects Will Join Tesla’s Mega Battery in Australia

Water and Sun

Telsa is about to get some help in transitioning South Australia to a future powered by clean energy. The company’s mega battery will soon be joined by a pumped hydro storage project out of a former quarry in Highbury and a new solar installation complete with its own battery system, which will be connected to an existing wind farm near Snowtown.

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Energy company Tilt Renewables will operate both projects, and they’ll go a long way toward expanding South Australia’s green energy footprint.

Combined, the projects increase the region’s renewable capacity by 365 MW. Of that, 300 MW will come from the pumped hydro project, 44 MW from the solar farm, and 21 MW from the battery at the solar farm, which gives it a capacity approximately one-fifth that of Tesla’s mega battery.

“More renewable energy means cheaper power for South Australians,” said South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis in a news release. “This planned new solar and battery farm in the mid-north and pumped hydro power plant in Highbury will add a huge amount of additional competition to our system.”

Renewable Impact

Tesla’s battery has already proven its worth to South Australia a few times over. When a coal plant failure threatened the grid in December, the battery kicked in before the failed plant even finished going offline, taking mere milliseconds to ensure the region wouldn’t be without electricity.

The addition of a pumped hydro storage system will be particularly beneficial to the blackout-plagued region as it can ease the burden on less predictable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

South Australia is taking bold action when it comes to the innovative storage of renewable energy. If we want to keep expanding renewable energy efforts, we’ll need effective storage systems.

Hopefully, the rest of Australia and other nations around the world learn from the region, taking note of the effectiveness of the burgeoning infrastructure and using South Australia’s success as inspiration for their own projects.

The post Two New Renewable Energy Projects Will Join Tesla’s Mega Battery in Australia appeared first on Futurism.


20 VR and AR projects given up to £20,000 each by CreativeXR

20 VR and AR projects given up to £20,000 each by CreativeXR

Twenty virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) projects have been given up to £20,000 of funding by CreativeXR, a programme developed by not-for-profit Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, with support from government-backed innovation agency Innovate UK.

CreativeXR is aimed at enabling the UK’s arts and cultural sector to lead the field in immersive content creation and digital innovation. Those behind the programme want to encourage applicants to focus on R&D and develop riskier, content-driven projects that contribute to developing new skills, tools and business opportunities.

In an open call for ideas, CreativeXR received over 1,000 registrations of interest and over 250 applications, but only 20 applicants were successful and have each been offered up to £20,000 of funding to develop their prototype. They will be able to work with industry leaders in workshops to help them with concept development, and they will also have access to Digital Catapult Immersive Labs in London, Brighton, North East Tees Valley and Belfast.

Read more: Digital Catapult selects start-ups to join Machine Intelligence Garage

Creating immersive experiences

Successful applicants include a team working on an immersive experience that explores beauty from autistic perspectives; a team working on a VR experience that allows an audience to physically step into history; a group working on a VR crime thriller solving cold cases throughout British history; and a mixed reality experience that promises to enhance the UK Coastline through story, myth, fantasy and heritage.

One team, called the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, is working on ‘theatrical reality’, which is described as “a magic mirror to unchain theatrical barriers using augmented reality technologies”. Another idea, dubbed Traitor, involves a two-player interactive high stakes thriller, combining VR with live action.

“We want to make it easier for content commissioners to take more risks and explore new forms of storytelling with immersive content,” said Aurelien Simon, head of immersive at Digital Catapult.

“That’s why we’re giving the 20 teams selected the space and funding they need to experiment with their projects, as well as the chance to present their creations to content commissioners at the end of the programme,” he added.

Read more: Upskill’s augmented reality tech makes impact at GE

Final showcase scheduled

The CreativeXR teams will get the opportunity to pitch at a final showcase and market in March 2018, which will be attended by the likes of Google, BBC, Sky, Sony and HTC Vive.

Clive Longbottom, analyst at IT advisory organization Quocirca, suggested that the likes of AR, VR and MR have seen too many false dawns.

“The technology has to move from just being ‘interesting’ to being truly useful. I applaud the idea of the project but I remain sceptical as to whether the expected benefits will be accrued,” he said.

Read more: In headsets battle, augmented reality for business to dominate, says IDC

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OpenWRT and LEDE IoT router projects merge

OpenWRT and LEDE IoT router projects merge

The OpenWRT and LEDE open router projects have merged, with promises of a major software upgrade in the coming months. 

Embedded computing platforms are responsible for many of the of the lower-level mechanics that drive the IoT. Now, two open source base layer infrastructure projects have now merged.

As the two leading open router initiatives in existence, the OpenWRT and LEDE (standing for Linux Embedded Development Environment) projects often had a fractious relationship but have now tied the knot merged to become a single entity.

Aiming to become more than the sum of their constituent parts, the projects aim to now come forward with a major software release at some future point in 2018.

As many readers will know, a router is a piece of hardware that sits at a significant and identifiable ‘gateway’ on a network. The router runs a codebase of embedded software (sometimes called firmware), the job of which is to direct ‘packets’ of data down a particular path, depending on which route is the most efficiently optimized, fastest, most secure – or a combination of all of those factors.

Read more: Opinion: Why blockchain matters for the IoT

Why jailbreak a router?

So why would anyone need to tamper with a router? The answer is because developers and computer scientists often want to overwrite a manufacturer’s firmware to test new operational use cases scenarios, to get around major security flaws or to simply play with experimental prototyping ideas.

Until now, OpenWRT was really the only serious choice for techies wanting to work in this space. An offshoot ‘fork’ of OpenWRT, LEDE was only forged in March 2016 by a collective of software engineers who felt disenchanted by the direction OpenWRT was taking.

According to Openwrt.org, “LEDE’s spinoff and subsequent re-merge into OpenWrt will not alter the overall technical direction taken by the unified project. We will continue to work on improving stability and release maintenance while aiming for frequent minor releases to address critical bugs and security issues like we did with LEDE 17.01 and its four point releases until now.”

Read more: Netgear home routers vulnerable to hackers, says Trustwave

A new union

As the LEDE team now pledges to join forces with OpenWRT, this formation of this union is (arguably) interesting. LEDE and indeed OpenWRT have always sought to provide things (like extensibility, performance scaling and community support and research options) that vendor/manufacturers don’t – or if they do, to provide them in greater quantities with more accessibility — and, crucially, to provide them as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) offerings.

There you have it then in terms of insight into who’s hacking (in the positive sense) to make your IoT network better and provide more widely tested security features than some manufacturers will typically offer.

Read more: IoT device makers: Tackle security or face legal action

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