IoT.nxt recognised for Internet of Things (IoT) security with parent company Vodafone

Centurion, South Africa. 18 November 2021. Leading Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider IoT.nxt, together with Vodafone was recognised as the Overall IoT Security Solution of the Year in the 2021 CyberSecurity Breakthrough Awards.

“Security by design and privacy by design processes are crucial in solving some of the issues faced in the IoT industry. This approach, adopted with Vodafone UK, serves our customers in the best possible manner and secured this award for IoT.nxt and Vodafone”, says Renico Koen, Senior Security Manager at IoT.nxt.

The CyberSecurity Breakthrough Awards programme was built to serve as the information security industry’s most comprehensive program that recognises the top companies, products, technical innovation, and people in the cybersecurity industry today. The entry criteria and a corresponding set of assessment tools considered six aspects for each entry – innovation, performance, ease of use, functionality, value, and impact.

Shane Cooper, Acting CEO of IoT.nxt, says this award is of particular significance as security remains a concern for most companies fearing IoT-related breaches to their infrastructures. “Although the adoption of IoT solutions is growing at a fast pace globally, every survey about IoT flags security as a potential inhibiting factor when companies consider introducing IoT are part of their digital transformation journeys,” Cooper says.

He notes that older, less secure devices in manufacturing and industrial environments could be targeted by an intruder if directly exposed to the internet. “At IoT.nxt this problem is solved by our Raptor edge gateway. Legacy and newer technologies can connect to our gateways, which establishes a secured communications link for sharing data with applications in the cloud or within an enterprise network. This makes it possible to utilise less secure devices without having to expose them directly to the internet.”

For the award-winning entry, IoT.nxt and Vodafone elaborated how they married their bespoke end-to-end Commander IoT platform with Vodafone’s secure division of the business in order to build a security focussed IoT platform hosted in-house in secure UK data centres.

By offering a comprehensive range of IoT services on the Commander platform, accompanied with IoT.nxt’s Raptor, Vodafone is now able to help businesses and organisations across all stages of IoT maturity by giving them a single integrated view of their IoT ecosystem through a managed service aimed to help protect them against new and evolving cyber threats.

This combination of Commander and Raptor enables businesses to build any type of IoT solution, for instance, to track assets, predict maintenance, monitor their office/building environment, and manage energy consumption – to name a few.

This year’s program, the fifth time the awards were presented, attracted more than 4,000 nominations from over 20 different countries throughout the world.


 

IoT technology to debut at 947 Ride Joburg

Centurion, South Africa. 15 November 2021. Internet of Things innovators, IoT.nxt, will introduce its technology at the 2021 947 Ride Joburg cycle race to get live metrics of its team’s activity on the day as part of a future strategy to utilise IoT technology to improve sports performance. This is a new application for its sports solution following the platform developed in association with parent company Vodafone for the British and Irish Lions rugby team earlier this year.

For the 947 Ride Joburg event, each bike will be fitted with a GPS tracker, and this will send live metrics to IoT.nxt’s Commander™ platform on race day. Elements to be tracked include location, speed, and distance. Each rider will be wearing a smartwatch which will measure similar metrics to the tracker, but also include additional metrics like the rider’s heart rate and power. The smartwatch syncs to the sports platform Strava – widely used by cyclists and runners around the world. IoT.nxt pulls all the data from Strava as well as the GPS tracker to Commander™, a contextual platform that visualises the data.

“There is huge potential for Sport IoT solutions as it can be applied for any sport teams as well as individual athletes. Receiving real-time data about a team or individual’s metrics can drive the improvement of performance beyond what is achieved with sophisticated, scientifically developed training and coaching techniques,” says Thomas Lee, Solutions Engineering Manager at IoT.nxt.

“This use of IoT technology in sport was first introduced in July this year for the British and Irish Lions team with the Vodafone PLAYER.Connect performance dashboard, which used IoT technology that revolutionised how player data is evaluated. The IoT technology aggregated data from multiple devices worn by the players into one dashboard in real-time, allowing performance data to be viewed, analysed and acted upon instantly, from anywhere in the world,” he says.
“We will use an adapted solution for our team of four riders participating in the event hosted in Johannesburg on 21 November,” says Lee.

The IoT.nxt solution is technology agnostic, making it possible to integrate any sports tracker or device and receive real-time data in a single dashboard. This allows for analysis of a sports team or individual athlete’s performance while actively engaged in sports activity, not after the fact as most devices or trackers provide. Coaches or athletes can therefore adapt their performance while participating. The solution also makes more advanced analytics post the event possible.

 


 

Smart city developments accelerate as urbanization picks up pace

Centurion, South Africa. 19 November 2021. Applications to reduce energy consumption and improved traffic management have been the focus of cities around the world as the adoption of smart city solutions accelerate. In South Africa a district municipality has introduced a smart metering system to improve overall water management and the private Waterfall estate in Gauteng has adopted a smart city approach since its establishment in 2015.

“The reason for the focus on energy is because cities use 60% to 80% of the world’s energy needs and it contributes significantly to cities’ overall expenditure. Realising savings through the introduction of smart technology makes it possible for city managers to increase on other projects to benefit citizens, says Tobie Alberts, Digital Evangelist and Commercial lead for Europe at IoT.nxt.

The global smart city market is expected to reach a revised size of US$2.5 Trillion by 2026, from US$741.6 Billion in 2020, as cities explore technology to drive efficiencies and deliver more to citizens.

It is expected that 65% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2040 as currently, about 1.3 million people worldwide move to cities every week. This puts great pressure on city managers to effectively manage facilities for a growing population, which has given rise to the adoption of smart city solutions.

Wikipedia defines a smart city as a technologically modern urban area that uses different types of electronic integration, voice activation methods and sensors to collect specific data. The information gained from that data is used to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, buildings, and assets that are then processed and analysed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, utilities, water supply networks, waste, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.

The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) network to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how it is evolving. ICT is used to enhance the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and the government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple “transactional” relationship with its citizens.

The 2020 Smart City Index ranks Singapore, Helsinki, Zurich, Auckland, and Oslo as the top five smart cities in the world with many European cities slipping in this global ranking. The biggest mover in the 2020 Index is New York, now ranked at number 10 from 38 in 2019.

Few cities have released actual numbers but a report by Smart Cities Press shows what is possible. In its analysis of what city managers should look at it notes that the Empire State Building in New York reduced its energy consumption by 38% after installing a smart monitor. Additionally, the building saved $4.4 million in a year, supporting other technological advancements.

Although the concept of smart cities has become almost a buzzword around the world, South Africa included, global research giant Gartner stressed in a recent report that improving the lives of citizens is what it should be about. “Smart cities can only be successful if local government engages with citizens, opening up a dialogue to meet their needs,” according to the report. “Developing IoT programmes without consulting the community is the wrong strategy. Smart cities are no longer just about optimised traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting, or improvements to public works, but should instead be about a community-driven approach to deciding local priorities.”

“IoT.nxt is currently rolling out smart city applications in several territories that monitor air quality, track energy management, manage streetlights, reviews traffic flow, detect abrupt noises and provides real-time information on a single platform to city managers, who can now take immediate action when alerts are received. Proactive city management goes hand in hand with smart city initiatives, leading to enriched community satisfaction,” Alberts says.

Many of the IoT.nxt projects currently live focus on energy management. One solution implemented in the US has connected all the streetlights of the city. Stakeholders can now see remotely on a single dashboard which streetlights are on or off, which are dimmed, and which are faulty. As each individual light is monitored, intelligent alarms are raised in real-time allowing service teams to address whatever needs to be changed. Dimming lights during times of no activity on a road switching lights off when natural light is sufficient (as opposed to using a timer system) drives significant cost savings. “There was a time that efficiency was driven on these lights with replacement of more efficient light sourcing, but even that has reached its limit. Thus, the new age of asset management is crucial for things like lighting to drive even more efficiency The data also provides the city with seasonal trends allowing for adjusted strategy planning for optimum results,” Alberts says.

Another demanding issue for city managers is traffic management and the related issue of traffic rules infringements. This too has been improved using IoT.nxt technology without requiring the installation of new equipment. By connecting the existing infrastructure, specifically, the traffic camera network, the city’s traffic manager can monitor traffic volumes as well as traffic flow in real-time and receive alerts about infringement of traffic rules. Improving traffic issues is of real benefit to citizens of cities as it remains a time-draining daily activity. “This proves that making a city smart does not mean replacing key infrastructure and costing the community and city more in managing costs, as the IoT.nxt platform is purpose build to retrofit to gain more from existing infrastructure,” Alberts notes.

Beyond operational issues like traffic and street light monitoring, smart city solutions can also track the efficiencies of utilities. Smart metering as introduced in SA, has reduced water wastage as water leaks are detected and addressed in real-time, and it improved readings to deliver accurate billing.

 

Smart Cities with IoT.nxt

How smart city development efficacy will help level rapid urbanization

It is expected that 65% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2040 as currently, about 1.3 million people worldwide move to cities every week. This puts great pressure on city managers to effectively manage facilities for a growing population, which has given rise to the adoption of smart city solutions.

What makes a city smart?

A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic integration and sensors to collect useful data. The information gained is used to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently; in return, that data helps improve the operations across the city. Data could be collected from citizens, devices, buildings, and assets which are processed and analysed. This enables an array of use cases such as managing traffic and transportation systems, power plants, utilities, water supply networks, waste, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.

The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) network to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor city activity and evolution. ICT is used to enhance the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and the government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple “transactional” relationship with its citizens.

The 2020 Smart City Index ranks Singapore, Helsinki, Zurich, Auckland, and Oslo as the top five smart cities in the world with many European cities slipping in this global ranking. The biggest mover in the 2020 Index is New York, now ranked at number 10 from 38 in 2019.

Research company Research and Markets estimates that the smart city market is anticipated to grow at a substantial compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 18.1% between 2021 and 2027.

The possibilities are endless

Forbes magazine’s Technology Council listed these as key benefits of smart cities they would like to see, as published earlier this year:

  • Unprecedented efficiency
  • Optimizations for sustainability
  • Rapid Integration of New Technologies
  • Connected classrooms
  • Applications of contextual data
  • Reduced CO2 emissions
  • Enhanced traffic management
  • Decreased gridlock and fewer accidents
  • Better autonomous vehicles
  • Improved safety and security systems
  • More efficient municipal services
  • Wi-Fi-enabled productivity boosts

Sustainability is key

As cities use 60 to 80% of the world’s energy needs, the reduction of energy consumption has emerged as a major focus for implementing smart city strategies. Few cities have released actual numbers but a report by Smart Cities Press shows what is possible. In its analysis of what city managers should look at it notes that the Empire State Building in New York reduced its energy consumption by 38% after installing a smart monitor. Additionally, the building saved $4.4 million in a year, supporting other technological advancements.

A community-driven approach 

Although the concept of smart cities has become almost a buzzword around the world, global research giant Gartner stressed in a recent report that improving the lives of citizens is what it should be about. “Smart cities can only be successful if local government engages with citizens, opening up a dialogue to meet their needs,” according to the report. “Developing IoT programmes without consulting the community is the wrong strategy. Smart cities are no longer just about optimised traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting, or improvements to public works, but should instead be about a community-driven approach to deciding local priorities.”

IoT.nxt Smart City solutions

IoT.nxt is currently rolling out smart city applications in several territories that monitor air quality, track energy management, manage streetlights, reviews traffic flow and provide real-time information on a single platform to city managers, who can now take immediate action when alerts are received.

Many of the IoT.nxt projects currently live focus on energy management. Conserving energy and unlocking resultant cost savings are priorities for city managers all over the world. One solution implemented in the US has connected all the streetlights of the city. Stakeholders can now see remotely on a single dashboard which streetlights are on or off, which are dimmed, and which are faulty. As each individual light is monitored, intelligent alarms are raised in real-time allowing service teams to address whatever needs to be changed. Dimming lights during times of no activity on a road switching lights off when natural light is sufficient (as opposed to using a timer system) drives significant cost savings. The data also provides the city with seasonal trends allowing for adjusted strategy planning for optimum results.

Another demanding issue for city managers is traffic management and the related issue of traffic rules infringements. This too has been improved using IoT.nxt technology without requiring the installation of new equipment. By connecting the existing infrastructure, specifically, the traffic camera network, the city’s traffic manager can monitor traffic volumes as well as traffic flow in real-time and receive alerts about infringement of traffic rules. Improving traffic issues is of real benefit to citizens of cities as it remains a time-draining daily activity.

Beyond operational issues like traffic and street light monitoring, smart city solutions can also track the efficiencies of utilities. Smart metering, for instance, can reduce water wastage as water leaks are detected and addressed in real-time, improved readings deliver accurate billing.

Using technology to develop a smart city is all about unlocking efficiencies and driving the reduction of costs. Smart technology can transform the citizen experience in cities. IoT technology delivers fast ROI in any industry. Speak to IoT.nxt to transform your business, the sector you operate in, your building, your city.

It’s still your city. Only smarter.

 

 

 

Smarter Cities with IoT.nxt

So, what is a smart city, anyway?

Essentially, smart cities use data and technology to create efficiencies, improve sustainability, create economic development, and enhance quality of life factors for people living and working in the city. It also means that the city has a smart energy infrastructure. Smart cities are very people-centric in that they are all about improving people’s experiences in that city so it better meets their needs.

IoT is allowing for everyday processes such as traffic control, utilities and city infrastructure, to be connected to networks. Its capabilities reach every aspect of the way a city is run. This renders the opportunities for smart agriculture as endless.

Many countries in Africa are still in the early stages of the urbanisation process. However, they are very quickly catching up to the rest of the world. 

Why IoT is the answer

IoT infrastructure opens the door to technological innovation from the private sector. Whether it’s in the private sector with smart cabs and smart parking. Or in public infrastructure with traffic and waste management. There’s a big push to embrace smart city connectivity and the innovation it can enable.

A recent article on MyBroadband notes that “IoT is essential to the success of a smart city. It enables the bridging of the physical world with the digital one. This allows a metropolitan area to gather real-time data from millions of objects. For example, water meters, electricity meters, waste bins, traffic lights and street lights. This then forms the basis upon which contextual data can be collected, analysed and used to manage the city in a smarter, predictive and proactive way.”

IoT is playing a pivotal role in the development of critical infrastructure in smart cities in Africa. IoT can be used to manage multi-trillions of data points making smart cities a benefactor of connected solutions. The application of these new technologies with the urban context allows the implementation of an interconnected strategy for the whole city combining and using data from buildings, as well as from public and private transport.

It’s no secret that there are limitations to infrastructure rollouts in Africa. As the population grows denser, it becomes vital that more viable solutions be looked at. From environmental monitoring to urban planning, energy management to events and festivals. IoT technology is what’s going to aid in bringing sustainability and interconnectivity to African cities. Propelling them to new heights.

IoT.nxt offer a vast array of smart city solutions that are designed to optimise city processes and give visibility and control through a single pane of glass.

A city that is SMART:

  • Gun Shot Detection
  • Street Lighting ​
  • Environmental Sensor
  • Pedestrian Traffic Counting ​

 


 

When human and machine intelligence meet

All businesses need intelligence to improve revenue, reduce costs, find efficiencies, or accurately predict customers’ needs. Traditionally, the minds of humans have exclusively provided intelligence in a business context; however, as demand for products and services increased, so too have the market for more human brainpower. Fast forward to 2021, where businesses can engage in artificial means of gaining product, service, or customer intelligence with less effort and less dependence on human intellectual input.   

The views on AI are controversial and opposing. Some think AI will replace mundane human activities. In contrast, others believe AI will replicate humanity into machines – the consensus isn’t clear. As a result, AI has been reserved for solution-specific instances (to predict potential outcomes and patterns, automate tasks, and improve machine and human communication).  

The reasons vary from distrust to the general understanding of AI and how it will benefit the business. Also, the specific skills required to build machine learning models and the amount of data needed upfront. The perception surrounding AI is that it is reserved for tech-heavy industries.  

At IoT.nxt, we have a different view of AI – It should offer value to businesses, understand their customers better, and improve the product experience. This leads to a more competitive, efficient, and profitable business.   

 What is AI, ML and Deep Learning?   

In layman’s terms, Artificial Intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.  

Classical, or “non-deep”, machine learning is more dependent on human intervention to learn. For example, human experts perform feature engineering to understand the differences between data inputs, usually requiring more structured data to learn.  

To inform its algorithm, deep learning can leverage labelled datasets, also known as supervised learning, but it doesn’t necessarily require a labelled dataset. It can ingest unstructured data in its raw form (e.g., text, images, or even IoT sensor data). It can automatically determine the hierarchy of features that distinguish different categories of data from one another. Unlike machine learning, it doesn’t require human intervention to process data, allowing us to scale machine learning more interestingly.  

 Why you should care about AI  

AI solutions include tailored advertising, predicting human or livestock disease incidence and much more. At IoT.nxt, we have use cases where AI offers our clients direct value in the following areas:  

  • Predictive Maintenance (Equipment failure prediction is one part of this. Other tasks can also be augmented with AI, such as root cause analysis, remedy prescription and maintenance scheduling).  
  • Pattern Recognition – Anomaly or outlier detection  
  • Image Analytics – Object detection, recognition, and counting.  
  • Quality inspection  
  • Supply chain optimisation  
  • Manufacturing process optimisation  

The industries that currently utilise AI in one form include healthcare, agriculture, finance, manufacturing, automobile, surveillance and robotics.   

The examples above prove a widespread adoption of AI solutions across a broad range of industries. However, it could be daunting for any business that needs it but does not know where to start. IoT.nxt aims to remove the complexity and challenges, including AI and ML skills, understanding the technology, benefits and uses, and access to good quality and quantities of data.  

AI, ML, and ultimately data analytics allows companies to reduce costs by finding more efficient ways of doing business, better customer service and improved decision making.  

“Our data & analytics team’s top goal is to generate value driving insights and continuously develop tools to make this a frictionless experience for our clients.” – Ricardo Ludeke, Data & Analytics Manager at IoT.nxt 

AI in IoT.nxt solutions  

At IoT.nxt, we develop bespoke AI solutions ranging from unsupervised pattern recognition models to detect the operating behaviour of devices and highlight anomalies to forecasting models that can predict energy usage and carbon emissions. Our most advanced prescriptive analytics models can be used to prescribe the best actions to take to achieve the desired outcome and actuate control back to our Raptor gateway at the edge. Depending on the use-case or problem at hand, we can develop the right model to solve the problem.  

To develop these bespoke solutions, you require highly skilled resources, a thorough understanding of the problem and the technology, and good quality data. Our Commander platform sets itself apart by easily making the right data available. However, the other challenges discussed earlier can still hold back the implementation and adoption of AI technologies.   

With this in mind, we are in the process of developing a model library with a range of off-the-shelf models with targeted outcomes that ultimately focus on generating value for our clients. The model library will enable users to easily configure and deploy an AI solution to solve their problems without being an AI expert. This allows clients to focus on the implementation and value generation instead of acquiring skilled resources or understanding complicated technology to develop an AI solution from scratch.   

Prediction for site carbon emissions and cost savings. 

 Some examples and benefits of the AI models that will be available in the model library include:   

  • General anomaly and outlier detection models will enable users to detect anomalies in the operation of their equipment or to detect outliers in a fleet. This allows users to effectively manage and maintain a fleet of equipment by identifying potential issues in operation before complete failure and take corrective actions to return the equipment to normal operation.   
  • Time-series forecasting and classification models will enable users to predict the future trend or categorise their equipment’s specific behaviour at a point in time. Knowing the future trend could be helpful in planning and decision making, while categorising how different equipment is operating could be valuable in identifying areas of concern to prioritise and focus our efforts.   
  • Our video intelligence models will enable a range of features, including object detection, counting, and tracking, which can monitor several video feeds for potential security issues.  
  • Other planned AI models include a predictive maintenance solution, an energy management solution, and a production yield optimisation solution. These are more comprehensive end-to-end solutions that will enable more complex workflows.  

The model library will empower users to generate insights using their own data, focusing on what matters most, effectively reducing the time to value and further saving users time by getting rid of repeated tasks.    

AI for any business  

The fear that AI will develop its own consciousness and control humans should remain in Hollywood movies. However, with IoT.nxt, you control AI and not the other way around. Therefore, customers shouldn’t have to spend a vast number of hours or hire skilled data scientists to realise the value of AI.  

We want the interaction with ML to be as low-touch as possible; we envision a user with a dataset and a need, for example, to improve efficiencies or detect failure trends. And we want the customer to apply our pre-set ML models to their data with a specific outcome in mind. With the soon to be released model library, more businesses can benefit from the powerful capabilities of AI.  

Ultimately, the core of our IoT platform is to make the right data available.