Integrated ICT provider Vox has announced the launch of several fully-managed Internet of Things (IoT) based solutions.
When coupled with advanced analytics, big data collection will bring new security options including asset and animal tracking to South African customers.
As user requirements expand, tamper and tracking, asset, animal, utility and security devices are being deployed pervasively on movable assets like vehicles or trailers, on animals and in less accessible places. End users want to know much more than just location, with proactive notifications of out of the ordinary behaviour and activity allowing them to identify and track trends, amongst other features.
Vox has positioned itself as a network neutral platform provider and will support NB-IOT, LTE-M1, LoRa and Sigfox technologies. “This is going to be like Beta vs VHS” – du Toit says. Vox has initially partnered with leading operator Sqwidnet, the provider of Sigfox technology in South Africa. Sqwidnet has the lowest price point from a hardware and connectivity perspective and the technology extends to more than 42 countries. These “Things” could include any object embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and coupled with network connectivity to collect and exchange data, communicate and control objects remotely.
Simply put, Low Powered WAN technology (Sigfox & LoRA) works well in situations where devices need to send small amounts of data over a wide area while maintaining battery life over many years. This distinguishes LPWAN from other wireless network protocols like Cellular with regards to bandwidth and range capability.
Adds du Toit, ¨The Sigfox network is unique in that towers can transmit information over long distances – up to 90 kilometres or more in the regions from a single base station with very low emissions and a small visual impact.”
While tracking in itself is not new, it has traditionally been reliant on GSM networks – which are expensive to adopt and maintain, and have a higher power consumption requirement to transmit data. Furthermore, GSM devices are now increasingly susceptible to being disrupted, with signal jammers the size of a cell phone making theft of movable assets much easier and untraceable.
“Apart from the signal being harder to interfere with, our IoT devices are self-powered and don’t draw power from an external source, says du Toit,
“Other embedded sensors measure temperature, battery life, occasionally provide GPS co-ordination and detect if someone is trying to tamper with the IoT device”.
Depending on how frequently the device transmits information, the IoT devices support a low power design and up to 10-year autonomy. The IoT devices can support anything from 2 to 50 to 100 to 140 transmission frames per day. At 140 transmission frames – that is 1 message every 15 minutes.
All telemetry information is collected and analysed in the cloud, which is shared with end-users through online websites or mobile applications. Bulk users will have the ability to customise the application to suite their business requirements.
In addition to steadily declining IoT device prices over the past few years, using an IoT network will help organisations to cut down on the operational costs of using traditional GSM networks, including SIM fees, network connection fees, and data costs.
Automated workflows will be a key differentiator for Vox – given the number of connected devices anticipated it will be impossible for humans to make action based decisions. We will be focussing on automation, starting off with basic workflows and advancing into AI and Machine Learning.
The market requires a lot of education wrt understanding the real meaning of AI – it is only the “silver bullet” if you know exactly what you want to achieve. A lot can be achieved without applying AI from inception
Doors, gates and windows are the weakest security points in a building or farm and as such, we have been able to bring to market an “early warning device” if you will, that notifies one when a door, gate or window is tampered with. This self-powered device is not susceptible to jamming technologies and will alert you once the device’s integrity has been breached, allowing business owners to secure any building at a low cost, while also addressing the main weakness of security
The power supply is the other ‘Achilles’ heel’ of security systems. Our tamper alert devices enable low energy consumption: connected movement detectors can run on batteries for up to 10 years.”
Enabling the connected farmer
Aimed at small, medium and large-scale farmers, Vox uses IoT to help with animal management, reproductive control, fattening management, and in heat and calving detection. The smart collars used have multiple sensors, are lightweight and easy to use, and improve on previous solutions with network coverage and extended battery life.
In this scenario, each animal is fitted with an IoT collar to monitor its location and condition, with the data being transmitted securely to the Vox cloud, and resulting analytics collected, interpreted and delivered back to web portals or smartphone applications. This allows farmers to set geofencing boundaries, monitor and track their animals and get real-time notifications for theft and other behavioural events.
On the back end, all information collected is securely sent to a multi-platform system in the cloud, which analyses data and displays it in a user-friendly application that allows farmers to set geofencing boundaries, monitor and track their animals and get real-time notifications for theft and other abnormal events.
Think of it as an IoT eco-system which extends to security, humidity and moisture as well as tracking.
Collectively, this provides farmers with a comprehensive management tool to increase productivity, reduce costs and animal losses, and improve operations efficiency by cutting down on the paperwork.