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  • Nick Dragan 4:52 PM on 04/01/2018 Permalink | Reply  

    The place of Wi-Fi and the rise of LPWAN technologies 

    LPWAN or low power wide area networks represents a new wave of technologies. This has been coming for a while. The novelty consists in the plethora of devices working directly on these networks. They are generally sensors, tags, small data packet senders which don’t need large bandwidth. One other excellent advantage is the fact that LPWAN devices use little power. Therefore they can be powered for months if not years with a single battery and utilising low power solar installations is really useful.

    If you do a search on the internet for any of the technologies available in this family you will find a real buzzing community. And the products keep coming. Furthermore, there is a huge number of city-wide networks being deployed and everyone is posting almost weekly a new signed agreement with a city or town.

    It is natural then to ask: what is the future of traditional Wi-Fi networks and is there a role for them in the new emerging trends ?

    I personally think that Wi-Fi has a pivotal role. Sure, you can use new low power networks to aggregate data from various sensors but there is a commercial reality. Many of the cities around the world have deployed in the past excellent Wi-Fi networks meant to cover high density areas and wide geographical spaces.  Installing new gateways is fine in a small area to collect information  from the surrounding sensor grid but carrying that information to the processing head end might be a commercial challenge.  This can be easily resolved by utilising existing infrastructure. A Wi-Fi link can connect gateways and nodes hundreds of metres away and even kilometres. There is no need for multiple hops. If there is nothing in between points other than a wide open space, then placing repeater nodes can be difficult.

    Existing mesh networks already deployed in places like universities, campuses, industrial estates and even residential communities can quickly solve the data transport challenge. The investment is already in place and quite often operators of such networks are unaware of the spare capacity. It is therefore extremely simple for example to create an air quality monitoring, irrigation and water level monitoring system by utilising local sensors with localised LPWAN gateways. Once the basic data collection or control equipment is in place, the gateways can be then attached to the already installed Wi-Fi network. No need for expensive extra power outlets, more radio infrastructure or co-location fees.

    Existing technologies are not , generally speaking, obsolete. Financial controllers and those who oversee investments will be very happy to re-use the systems in place while upgrading and increasing the data density for minimum cost.

     

     
  • Nick Dragan 11:44 AM on 30/10/2017 Permalink | Reply  

    NBN- Understanding Reality 

    Many stories – disaster or blessing ?

    For some time now I have read many stories and reports regarding the NBN. If you trust all that has been written so far, you would think that the Australian Governments of many colours have done nothing but bury billions of dollars into something that is in a state of total disarray.

    Is it true ?

    If we are to believe everything it has been said so far, we would rise like the eagle and really rally in front of the Government House to get our money back.

    But let’s use a little bit of our nature given intelligence.

    The mathematics behind statistics

    Most of us would have had some work done at our houses at some point in time. How would you feel about complaining that the toilet is not functional while the plumber is installing a new one ? What about complaining that the driveway is not useable while the brick paver works on it ? That would seem a little silly, wouldn’t it ?

     

    When the NBN started, say we had 1000 consumers connected in one suburb. Of the 1000, 2-3 experienced some sort of trouble. After that, we connected 100.000 consumers over several suburbs and the complaints went from 2 to 50. This is 25 times more

    Enormous ! Outrageous ! Skyrocketing ! Words of the media….

    But let’s not miss the point..

    The NBN is NOT finished ! The NBN is in construction. Now we have nearly 10 million subscribers on a network in construction and perhaps a few thousands complains on performance.

    I have personally went through troubles briefly with my NBN connection (fibre-to-the-node) and I solved it with my provider. No need for a big whinge.

    Perhaps we should take a step back and really understand what is happening.

    I personally believe that consumers are too much into the “I want it now, I deserve it now” attitude. You can’t drive your car when the wheel is out. You have to wait. Similarly, the NBN will experience sometimes dropouts and reduction in speed temporarily. It will pass.

    I am sure that when it works nobody calls to say ” Thank you NBN for making my internet faster”.

     
  • Nick Dragan 5:29 PM on 12/09/2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Technical solutions = The outcome of collaboration 

    Great technology Solutions come from open and honest collaboration between hardware suppliers, service providers or integrators and customers. The intersection of these three realms represents the outcome.

     

     

    What are your thoughts ? Is this your experience ?

     
  • Nick Dragan 11:23 PM on 06/09/2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: communication, , electronics, , IoE, , , things   

    The dangers of IoT devaluation 

    IoT – Internet of Things – innovation and progress

    The last 12 months have been filled with new products and services launched in the IoT sphere. But are they all what they say ?

    The danger of loosing focus

    In these busy times, full of new ideas and enthusiasm, there is a more subtle but ever present danger. The devaluation of the IoT philosophy and the confusion caused to the customers. A handful of companies have released products which they propose under the hash-tag IoT but which, in my humble opinion do not belong in this family.




    Not all that is connected is IoT

    The bluetooth speaker, the point-to-point controllable light globe are not IoT devices. Nor is the bluetooth light controller serving one room with a single, point to point connection capability.
    I am aware of marketing campaigns by reputable companies which continuously use tag names from the IoT realm to pop-up in search engine results. Yet their products, while smart and useful, are by no means true IoT members.
    These devices are nothing more than simple stream receivers and do not constitute IoT members any more than a PC monitor would do. In the same way, one could advertise its wireless display receiver as IoT device.

    But let’s face it. None of these examples contribute to the IoT information stream and they have no real interaction with the wider IoT realm.

    Should we have an IoT certification ?

    I am almost tempted to propose an IoT certification system to validate the products and solutions which are real contributors. While incurring perhaps a small fee from manufacturers and providers alike, this might clear up a bit the waters. I don’t pretend that this is the best answer but it is an open discussion.
    Sure, this ingression of non-IoT offers is minimal at the moment. However, the IoT community has to make sure that everything we promote and advocate for will not loose its message in a diluted market.

     
  • Nick Dragan 9:25 PM on 30/11/2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    IoT in simple terms 

    In recent days I have read and seen an enormous number of articles on IoT, the various conferences and product releases.

    But what is IoT in simple terms and how can it benefit your business ?

    The answer can be summarised like this: IoT (Internet of things) is a concept , a description of a developing collaboration platform, designed to bring various devices, operators and software products together by allowing them to freely interact on a widespread network. Still sounds complex, no ? Indeed.

    Think about this. IoT , as a concept promoted by so many companies, is nothing more than the desire of various manufacturers and software companies to make their product interface and interact easier with each other, even with other products. A classic is the over-used M2M (machine-to-machine) terminology. I personally prefer to say: IoT will allow my products to share information and data using the well known Internet platform. We no longer need to develop necessarily a specialised network for our devices. Communicaiton protocols can use the already existing cables fibre optic links and satellite connections.  The existing IP technology will carry our signals to a wider audience.

    For a business, IoT means that by choosing products which have IP capability faster data sharing can be achieved. Let’s take the example of a coffee shop. By choosing an IP enabled till, cloud payment processing platform and integrating all that together, the following can be quickly resolved: faster sales report, faster payment process, supplies control, cost control, easier menu integration, expandability through software updates and smoother expansion when required.  The opposite would be true should everything be isolated. To have a sales report, the owner would have to export or even print data from the till, do a manual stocktake regularly, manually adjust the menu and also manually update the till to reflect the adjustments.

    There are many examples such as the one above.

    In industrial applications, Internet of Things is even more important. With deployment of millions of sensors in networks, managing the available data is impossible in a standard environment. Enter M2M, or machine-to-machine interaction. Data exported from pipe sensors for example is automatically captured by the software and then categorized, analysed and presented in various forms when required. All these steps are automatic and the operator doesn’t have to do anything other than scheduling reports. Imagine monitoring a network of pipes across a country. A mammoth task with no success in sight if it wasn’t for IoT applications.

    IoT has made inroads in other disciplines, such as security. In simple terms all the surveillance cameras and recorders now connected to the house or office networks are forming the IoT. A camera can detect movement and , depending on its settings, can raise an alarm both local as well as remote through app based notifications or by emailing a snapshot of the event. Some cameras can be resource hungry should they need to stream constantly. These situations can be easily avoided through the use of the store-and-forward approach. Certain events are stored and only when a limit has been reached the data is forwarded to a receiver. This approach is particularly useful when the network connection is pricey, such as a direct satellite link. Utilising store-and-forward can significantly reduce data usage and enable the integrator to deploy a more cost effective connected solution.

    IoT is everywhere since it is not a product but a concept. Monitoring trains and even controlling trains is no longer a science fiction idea but a reality. And it is all possible thanks to data global data links.

    One of the biggest promoter and developer of IoT applications is the residential market. We have introduced more and more communicating technology in our homes. This is not necessarily bad when used properly.

    For example, Schneider Electric has released some time ago a product by the name of Wiser Link. This solution allows the user to monitor his or her own power usage, set goals, review data in dollars and receive notifications when thresholds are exceeded. Some installations can be also set to automatically turn off circuits if they shouldn’t be on.

    We are all part of the IoT and the very device you read this article on is a critical component.

    IoT can be scary but if and when deployed correctly, all connected devices can bring more joy than pain. It is important to understand first what the goal is, what the budget is and choose the solution which fits better our business but without cutting cost and forgetting connectivity.

    Connectivity is key.

     
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