The Internet of Things in actual action

ITWeb September 2020

IoT in actual action: Take 01

Brainstorm digs into a solution developed by IoT.nxt for Vodacom South Africa’s headquarters in Midrand.

IoT.nxt worked with Vodacom South Africa to transform the telco’s headquarters from bricks and mortar into intelligent infrastructure. The goal was to develop a cohesive platform from which to manage multiple systems and utilities, which would provide visibility into different areas of the building and any potential issues. The threads that the solution pulled together spanned water and electricity meters, power, fuel, generators and general consumption of utilities and systems across the building and handed the company deeper control over its spend, usage and management.

“Raptor, our IoT framework, provides the intelligence on site and connects all the different facilities and utilities, collecting the data and controlling the systems,” says Andre Strauss, chief commercial officer at IoT.nxt. “It’s an intelligent gateway that let’s us connect different brands and systems to provide the company with a single view over multiple touchpoints. It provides an interface that enables the company to instantly react to security concerns, cleaning requirements, alarms, utility failures, fuel shortages and to use automatic insights to improve control over all these elements.”

“The team can look at utility usage, carbon footprint, system behaviour and so many other nuanced insights as a result of the IoT platform.”

The solution is designed to tap into the modern idea of the smart building, one that has changed significantly over the past few years. Now, the intelligent building has to do more than just manage its assets, it needs to be capable of creating spaces for employees and customers that are safe within the constraints of the pandemic. This, for Vodacom, was a key differentiator.

“Smart buildings have to extend beyond the physical and so for Vodacom, we developed a solution that could allow for them to benefit from different operational efficiencies,” adds Strauss. “We digitised the base stations and created digital twins of assets to optimise IoT. The solution has delivered a 20% saving to the company’s bottom line – a real cost benefit for Vodacom – and, on top of that, the company can respond and react a lot faster, resulting in a better experience for the customer.”

The digitisation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and the use of the digital twin concept allowed for Vodacom to drive real-time efficiencies and cost savings within the building. The company can now adjust conditions to suit the number of people in the building and adapt usage and monitoring accordingly. The IoT platform provides a single view into multiple systems, with all the context and controls required to measure and assess these different systems appropriately.

“The team can look at utility usage, carbon footprint, system behaviour and so many other nuanced insights as a result of the IoT platform,” says Strauss. “It brings context to the building – it shows costs based on real-time data, it reports on relevant insights, it shows you systems in trouble and makes maintenance activities far quicker and more efficient.”

In an era when most organisations are rethinking office space and how to manage it in order to provide safer environments for customers, this type of intelligent oversight has become immensely valuable. It transforms a building into a living organism that adds value to the property and what the company can bring to its people, its customers and its bottom line.

Read the full article via ITWeb.

Smart society – What’s in it for South Africa?

Lebo Martins - Smart Society

By Lebogang Martin, Synapse Magazine September 2020

AI Expo Africa speaker Lebogang Martins, IOT Specialist Project Manager, talks about the need to justify the benefits to society of next generations technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, data science, algorithms and analytics, to bring new and significant value to its citizens.

EVER SO typically a society finds itself at the crossroads to transformation and must ask themselves key and pertinent questions including the following.

Can South Africa seek to enable next generation technologies, algorithms and analytics, to bring new and significant value to citizens whilst transforming its buildings and cities into an advanced smart society that is more resilient, safer, healthier, economically vibrant, and attractive to their residents, businesses and visitors?

Considering the economic drivers together with political unrest, social health pandemics, will we be able to weather the process required that involves building a smart society one block, one park, one building, one neighbourhood, one community at a time? Will we be patient enough to see the process through especially as it’s a complex multi-decade undertaking irrespective of whether one approaches it from a top-down or bottom-up approach?

While the benefits and Return on Investment (ROI) of smart buildings and cities are well documented, what would be the value to South Africa and why would it even be a consideration for diverting private/public funding to encourage the development and retrofitting of smart buildings and cities to building a smart society?

The cities must rock…

The macro-environmental composition of South Africa is very dynamic with diverse constituents and complex geographical, economic and political needs even when considered by provincially. In order to understand how a smart city enabled society will benefit Mzansi requires an appreciation of some background fundamentals and understanding of the drivers of civic value including its care abouts’ & outcomes, power centres, and how the value for these outcomes is quantified and evaluated by its citizens. Ultimately, these interconnected outcomes must lead to the ultimate overall ROI for each and every city in South Africa – a place that is healthy, productive, safe, self-sustaining and economically conducive, and where citizens and businesses choose to live and operate in.

A smart society built on its intertwined backbone of cities is in the “business” of creating and maintaining civic outcomes for its residents, businesses and visitors. These include better government throughput and ease of doing business; public safety and welfare of its people; a higher standard quality of life; mental, physical and social health and wellbeing of its people; ease of transportation, transit and traffic management; sustainable environment, energy, water, and air quality management processes; and most importantly its economic opportunities. While all cities care about these outcomes to a certain extent, some outcomes are more relevant to them than others. Each city is unique, and its focus on specific civic outcomes reflects its unique economic, geographic and political priorities, and the needs of its many constituents. These civil outcomes are for the betterment of South Africa’s cities, municipal utilities, private and public companies, communities and its citizens as a whole.

The South African government is a creator of civic outcomes, but it is not the only one. Civic outcomes are created, delivered and maintained by a ‘provider ecosystem’ of groups that includes national & quasi-government, municipalities, parastatals companies, communities and citizens with each group responsible for delivering outcomes within its scope and domain. A general oversight is that smart building is also an outcome provider to society as it creates those outcomes that cities care about with less cost, greater efficiency, and less resources.

For example, the municipalities are responsible for such things as maintaining streets, traffic signals and parks, while quasi-government companies are responsible for water and electricity. This provider ecosystem is intended to work collaboratively to deliver certain outcomes that are truly for the betterment of society.

Supporting these provider ecosystems is an infrastructure comprised of people, organisations and businesses, policies, laws, processes and technology integrated together to create the desired outcomes. The responsive civic ecosystem is adaptive, agile and always relevant to all those who live, work in and visit the cities. Whilst utilising advanced digital technologies, such as robotics process automation, IoT, artificial intelligence and analytics, and integrated into this underlying infrastructure, new disruptive and transformational civic outcomes are created.

Measuring outcomes…

A smart society and its cities viability should not be measured in the context of businesses that’s key metric is ROI, but instead must seek to improve its adoption of strategic imperative that make conducive to live and operate in especially when compared to similar structured cities i.e. ROI based on financials and also for a smart society’s initiatives and programs leading to a place that is healthy, productive, safe, self-sustaining and attractive over time, and where citizens and businesses choose to live and operate in. taking a smart building as an example, these outcomes can therefore be classified as either:

  • Outcomes arising as a direct consequence of implementing the smart society initiative e.g. when a building transitions to a digital whole-building energy management system, the immediate benefit is a reduction in the energy consumed, and thus the savings in energy bills.
  • Outcomes arising as an indirect consequence of implementing the smart society initiative e.g. new skills and personnel required to support the smart building technologies, which stimulates the economy local economy by creating the need for new jobs and a smart building business ecosystem to support and service the smart building.
  • Outcomes arising as a consequence of innovation and are created from transformational opportunities created by the implementation of smart building infrastructure and capabilities e.g. the smart building makes its excess energy and communications capacity and capabilities available to the city, which in turn can be used as a smart city hub for hosting various communications and sensors for city use.

This feature was originally published in Synapse Magazine available on Issuu.

IDC says economic recovery needs tech partners that contribute to the bottom line

ITWeb August 2020

We are right now in the grips of an economic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery from which will continue to see emerging technology play a vital and accelerated role.

That was the thrust of the message from IDC at the webinar and panel discussion called: “Adjusting to the new normal”, hosted by Nexio and partners, Dell Technologies and IoT.nxt, on 27 August.

“The journey to recovery will not be quick and it will require adaptation, partnerships will be important, and ensuring we know what technology contributes to the bottom line and business output,” says Mark Walker, associate VP of IDC in sub-Sahara Africa.

IDC has identified trends that South African CIOs report are key to shaping the recovery process in the near term.

The top six are security (91%) followed by creating and enabling new applications to drive digital experiences for customers and employees (60%), stronger disaster recovery and business continuity (57%), more technology-enabled collaboration (57%), and providing customers with secure access to information and services (45%).

Read the full article via ITWeb.