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Smart Cities: How IoT Is Putting Africa On The Map

Africa, along with the rest of the world, is currently charging through the fourth industrial revolution. Society is beginning to be reshaped by the smart use of information and technology. One of the most apparent examples of this change is the acceleration of the implementation of the Internet of Things. Smart, connected devices are not only being deployed in industries but cities globally. This is to gather and glean contextual insights used to achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity. As well as better use of scarce and natural resources.

In no place is the struggle to manage basic utilities and runoffs such as water, electricity and wastage more pressing than right here in Africa. Nico Steyn, co-founder and CEO of IoT.nxt, recently noted that ‘the reach of IoT is staggering. The implementation we’ve seen using our technology in the agricultural sector alone has showcased the possibilities for truly sustainable agriculture, Africa-wide. The future of industry in our country is bright.”

As the demand for food and the effects of climate change on production force agricultural operations to make more, better and faster smart agricultural practices are needed more than ever. Practices IoT can not only highlight, but help deliver.

If these are the possibilities in agriculture, imagine IoT being applied to the ecosystem of a city.

Much like each part of a farm needs to be connected to the whole to ensure it can be optimised without creating black holes in the overall picture, so do cities.

It’s crucial that the necessary infrastructure is built in order to allow businesses, residents and tourists to seamlessly and securely connect with what they need when they need it. And, although much of the current IoT infrastructure development is about preparing for the future and adapting to a digital world, some of it can have a more immediate effect.

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. And, even though Africa was the least urbanised region in the world in 2015, it is now the second fastest urbanising region behind Asia, which it is expected to surpass by 2020.

Smart city challenges in Africa

Although Africa is still a developing continent, it has come a long way during the fourth industrial revolution. However, there are still many challenges and constraints that lie in the way of full digitalisation. These challenges include things like inadequate physical infrastructure, widespread populations, unemployment, a large density of rural and remote areas, poor quality social services and vulnerability to disasters and climate change.

With a population of 1.216 billion people, a landmass of 30.37 million km squared, and a population density of 113 people per mile squared, Africa is the second largest continent in the world. As African cities evolve, the challenges of electricity and water shortages, wastage and other resources will continue to grow. These issues have become significant drivers of conversations focusing on smart cities.

However, the development of smart cities in Africa is not without constraints. As well as the challenges mentioned above, the availability of certain resources, such as finance, skills, technology, and energy, has caused for Africa to slightly lag behind in the process of smartening their cities.

Despite the obvious constraints, the implementation of smart technology in African cities would offer huge opportunities. Especially in terms of increasing quality of life for residents, improving the efficiency of the city services by eliminating redundancies, finding ways to save money and streamlining workers’ responsibilities.

The state of Africa today

African cities continue to be hampered with underdevelopment and weak standards of living, partially due to rapid and massive urbanisation. These have brought about further issues of proper waste management, traffic congestion and flow, various health concerns due to overcrowding, air pollution, lack of regular and sufficient electricity generation and its distribution and billing, poor water resource management, water availability and its distribution, deteriorating state of infrastructure, insufficient housing and schooling, and the list goes on.

Steyn added that “anyone would think that the odds are completely stacked against Africa when it comes to developing and digitalising its cities. However, it just so happens that Africa is the perfect blank canvas for a smart city. The technological capabilities of IoT can help lead a new generation of thinking whilst demonstrating tangible benefits to Africa’s citizens and to 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.”

https://mybroadband.co.za/news/industrynews/211684-iot-and-smart-cities-critical-necessity-with-profound-benefits.html

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.

Steyn added “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.

The future of African agriculture

Africa continues to face dramatic demographic development. Therefore, it’s vital for its technological advances to meet the surging demands of new migrants. Africa has several constraints when it comes to digitalising its cities. However, this surging demand almost forces policymakers to adopt these technological breakthroughs with the growth of smart cities. Instead of moving into more curative processes that are very expensive, it’s necessary to change those resources into building better facilities to reduce the number of diseases, to improve sanitation, traffic, housing and other challenges the continent faces.

An example of this is the product use of sensor data in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city is filled with thousands of sensors that capture data ranging from street water levels to developing traffic jams. That data is then streamed to a central nerve centre and city officials there use the same data captured to make real-time decisions on pending emergencies or events that occur.

Building smart cities is a viable way for Africa to cope with its booming urban populations. With smart cities already being implemented around Africa, many of the continent’s urban problems are turning into endless opportunities for technological development. From Vision City in Rwanda, which is the largest residential housing project in the country to date. This smart city is conceived as a fully self-sustaining neighbourhood with easy access to amenities like first-rate asphalt roads and pedestrian walkways, secure open parking, street lamps, a pre-installed fibre-optic network, and safe public spaces that are ideal for children and communal activities.

Vision City is just one of many smart city initiatives that are planned for Africa’s future. And with IoT technology constantly advancing beyond anything we’ve ever imagined, the possibilities for Africa’s smart future are endless.

Anyone would think that the odds are completely stacked against Africa when it comes to developing smart cities. However, with the help of IoT, Africa’s smart future is just a stone’s throw away. IoT technology is what’s going to aid in bringing sustainability and interconnectivity to African cities, propelling them to new heights.

Hits and near-misses: Will you be the early Bird?

safety

It’s no secret that large organisations are faced with numerous threats to their people, assets and operations. When an incident occurs, the faster you can react, the more likely it is that you can minimise potential losses. Delayed awareness and slow response times can be costly for production rates, profitability, reputation and the health and safety of employees. Despite waves of automation elsewhere in large enterprises, emergency responses are often still stuck in manual, reactive and often much-delayed process.

Workplace safety for industrial environments and their employees has increasingly gained widespread attention and concern due to increasing production pressures and an ever-increasing international competitiveness, in conjunction with more complex operations. This has the potential to increase health and safety risks of employees if the various risks are not adequately monitored and controlled. This is ever so present within the construction and mining industries where injuries and fatalities are far more common.

Even with the growing use of AI and robotics, things can still go wrong. Although the use of technology is typically thought to increase productivity and IT strategy, it is gaining more traction when it comes to health and safety. And with the pressures being placed on organisations to comply with health and safety laws and standards, the emergence of more sophisticated safety strategies is vital.

In no time is the conversation of mechanisation more crucial. In a recent comment to Bloomberg on mining fatalities having risen in South Africa, Peter Bailey, chairman for health and safety at the National Union of Mineworkers, commented, “Companies are maximizing profits while violating safety procedures.”

Operators in South Africa, are still using labour-intensive mining methods such as hand drilling. This backs up the notion/opinion that companies are maximising profits whilst violating safety procedures. Bloomberg also recently chatted to Patrice Motsepe, executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals Ltd., about the increase in mining fatalities, who said “In a country where there’s so much unemployment, where all of us are committed to creating jobs, if you look at the mines that have the lowest fatalities, it tends to be the ones that are more mechanized.”

The risk of human error

The majority of risk management systems and safety solutions are heavily reliant on data from the various work areas. The challenge is that the status quo around data generation is paper and people driven. According to Eric Croeser, Director of Partnerships in Mining, “currently, mines rely on people to conduct these assessments and update system logs.”

As competent as these safety systems are, there is always the added risk of human error. No matter the skills and training, there is always a degree of uncertainty implied when it comes to the accuracy of each assessment based on our inability to completely separate our perception of events and outcomes. As humans, our perceptions are naturally biased by common order and, therefore, a 100% assessment cannot be obtained.

Naturally, humans are biased by their own perception of things. Human judgement and decision making are distorted by an array of cognitive, perceptual and motivational biases. This unconscious bias is pervasive within the workplace and it affects a number of business decisions. When it comes to assessing certain risks, we need to understand that it is subjective to our own thinking about risk.

According to Daniel Kahneman, Author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, there is a pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behaviour. Kahneman states that “we’re generally overconfident in our opinions and our impressions and judgments”.  His book outlines the impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the challenges of correctly framing risks at work and home, and the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from the stock market to planning the next vacation

Croeser also noted that “within that short interval control, if you’re relying on people you’re not getting the actual data. You’re getting biased opinions and run the risk of having paperwork being filled out without actual assessments being done. You don’t know if the paper-based exercise has been completed. And to what degree it was done accurately.”

Technology: The upside to workplace safety

The workplace health and safety systems are in place to protect the well-being of the workers, as well as the productivity of the company’s machinery. Therefore, it’s important to ensure the sophistication of each process. When it comes to workplace safety within mining and industry, risks are naturally increased as the area is objectively more accident-prone.

So, we know that some change is needed to ensure more accurate assessments of safety risks. We also know that workers dislike change. As humans, we naturally tend to favour what we already know. Therefore, bringing big changes to a workplace can sometimes prove to be quite challenging. However, change is inevitable with industry markets becoming more reliant on technology and companies opening their doors to smart devices.

The Internet of Things is proving to be a game changer by revolutionising safety management. IoT is generating big gains in safety, efficiency and profitability for companies worldwide, including those heavy asset industries.

Adopting technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics is made easier with IoT and the technology also offers managers more control over the time frame between event and response to event.

Using real-time data to ensure accuracy

Automating and integrating processes will open up a new level of safety and transparency in production. Industrial safety technology allows for humans and machines to interact with each other in smart factories without any incidents. Essentially, using near-real-time data to verify and accurately quantify potential safety risks within the factory will allow managers to gain access to real, unfiltered data. These technologies will also reconstruct scenarios so they’re not affected by biases and allow for actual risk-based assessments to be made.

IoT devices offer businesses smarter devices and smarter possibilities. These devices offer something beyond simple data capture. They recognise patterns within that data and assist the worker to make an informed, statistically driven decision. Sensors within this technology will learn your machinery’s ‘normal state’ and detect patterns that deviate from it. First line managers are notified instantaneously so they can respond in a way that will better ensure the safety of the workers.

By tracking things like environmental factors that have bearing on the health and safety of the workers, businesses can assess any and all potential dangers and then create an appropriate response before an event even occurs. By using IoT and smart devices to track the risk of the operations of your mine, you will also be ensuring long-term safety, improving compliance, and assessing risks and then taking proactive action.

The early Bird

Industry safety is all about accurate, near real-time data. Operations need to be tracked 24/7 for businesses to stay on top of the safety of their workers. When it comes to accurately assessing injury and fatality rates, as well as all the near misses and unsafe acts, we need to look to the bottom of the Bird Triangle. With hundreds of unsafe, no-injury incidents being reported, and many more near-misses, for every major injury including fatality and major disability, it can be easy to miss all the times that an event almost occurred.

“The base incidents and near misses or collisions, excessive machine use or damages, PLCs integrated into different systems showing how many times conveyor belts fall out on pull keys – those are the events that are likely caused by someone doing something unsafe. In a digitalised world, you can start exploring the correlation of these events to factors like people position, environmental factors and other input KPIs into the process for more information.”

Companies can track these near misses in near real-time to create and implement more accurate systems of prevention. It also allows managers to stay educated on the behaviours that the workers typically adopt that may prove to be unsafe and, therefore, lead to incident. As a result, more relevant training programs and industry education can be implemented to assist the human side of accident prevention. There is also the possibility that, through IoT, these data points could be integrated into a model that can be used for training in a simulated VR environment. An interactive training environment that emulates the existing control systems, the physical plant design and layout and the operator consoles will optimize the transfer of skills from off-line training environments to the actual work environment as well as maximise team training and communication.

Going digital will also reduce the amount of paperwork and time required to report on any and all incidents, major and minor, within the workplace. “Consider an employer who downgrades performance ratings based on incidents being filed. Would you track them all accurately, even if no-one is injured?”

Using real-time data to gain access to more accurate recordings in the bottom two portions of the triangle ensure that you are able to intervene before, minor and non-injury incidents, and at-risk behaviours occur within the Bird Triangle occur, filling it up to Lost Time Injury/fatality.

Better communication for companies

The aim of IoT integrated technologies, is to connect enterprise sensory data, system data, and employee smart devices together to create a single multi-channel critical communication platform. By collecting data from all pieces of operating machinery and converting that data into meaningful 24/7 information, disruptions in operations are minimised while employees are kept safe and informed. A single multi-channel communication platform will also ensure that all communications and interactions coming in from various channels are tracked, measured and managed accordingly.

Using technology to harness the strengths of high-speed communication is fundamental for improving workplace safety. Critical communication platforms are deployed to warn people in the event of a crisis.

By integrating critical communications with IoT technology, organisations can improve physical security and business continuity as well as minimise the impact of crisis including machinery malfunction, security breaches, physical injury and a mechanical warehouse fire.

Digital technology is providing the answers

With technology advancing daily, it’s vital to stay in tune with the smart devices available within your industry. By using IoT smart devices, you can generate data that will always keep you up to date on what’s happening a job site, in real-time. Then, by combining this data with other other innovative tools like the Cloud, mobile, VR, AR, and automation, companies can help others strengthen safety programs and initiatives.

So, when it comes to supporting the health and safety measures of your company, digitalisation is just what the doctor ordered. The solutions and thinking discussed here don’t just hold true for the health and safety of your workers, but also for operational efficiency. Any employee downtime could result in production and operational downtime for the company. Implementing the IoT technological measures will also reduce the amount of operational downtime a company has when things go wrong. By continuously tracking the operations of the factory and the safety of its workers, improvements can be made and solutions can be implemented without laying impact on the efficiency of production.

Bringing decisions to the factory floor

Isn’t it time decisions were made in real-time, rather than waiting for the weekly management meeting or for your superior to gather, analyse and disclose data findings? We think so.

(more…)

Automation isn’t the enemy: Job security in an age of digitisation

It’s a commonly concluded outcome in any industrial setting. Technology and automation will end up cutting out jobs. The robots will take over. The imminent change will destroy our livelihood.

It’s not an altogether wrong sentiment. Automation certainly will remove the need for a few pairs of hands in the process, but does that mean the end of careers? Absolutely not.

Let’s look to Asia to find out why automation isn’t the enemy.

(more…)

An IoT platform unlike anything else out there

26 February 2018

Recognising the radical changes in the way businesses interact with both clients and each other, Britehouse Automotive Group Executive, Callie Human, was driven to look for a way the Dimension Data division could ensure that they didn’t place unnecessary risk on their own shoulders by refusing to adapt.

“As business leaders, we realised that not only did we need to adapt to a digitised, 4th Industrial Revolution world, but that we need to help our clients do the same,” said Human.

The age-old, “where will you be in 5-10 years” question was plaguing Britehouse Automotive team and, after finding themselves back at the same answer a few too many times, digital transformation became a key priority.

“The 4th industrial revolution is real and it’s going to drive businesses in the future, and we need to adjust our businesses accordingly,” Callie Human.

So how does a company like Britehouse Automotive adapt and capitalise of digitalisation?
Easy – with the right partner.

“What decided that, from a strategic perspective, it was important that we partner with a company that had an IoT platform. In saying that, we realised there was a lot of misconception in the industry between an IoT platform and an applications platform,” said Human, and he’s not wrong. The IoT industry is stuffed full of people claiming to be able to do a number of things. The IoT.nxt team, however, just do – and have been doing for a little over 2 years already.

Captivated by this solution was seemingly commercially viable, Callie and the Britehouse team quickly realised the IoT.nxt platform was agnostic enough to enable them to integrate all of their existing platforms at the edge with no ‘rip and replace’. It was a no brainer.

“I think IoT.nxt is one of the only companies in the world who has gotten it right. It’s not an application platform and our partnership allows us to continue innovating our own core solutions while implementing their IoT solutions for our customers.”

Ability to integrate at the edge aside, there’s also the added benefit of being able to build applications on top of the IoT.nxt platform that allows Britehouse to interact with their clients, and far beyond that, too.

Since the IoT.nxt technology stack is technology agnostic, able to integrate with all the enterprise solutions out there, it is garnering a reputation for enabling the rapid deployment of a digitalisation roadmap that can be rolled out in thin slices while customers ascertain whether it would bring about the benefits they hoped it would for their businesses.

Speaking of customers – Britehouse were able to show quick return on investment to their customers, and get a roadmap into play quickly – one peppered with the opportunity to build a lot of solutions for them down the line – without needing any new platforms or technology.

No ‘rip and replace’ – taking the disruption out of disruptive technology.

“I think that the lack of disruption is ultimately why we chose IoT.nxt. In our research we found that most other solutions out there would involve ripping out and replacing a lot of existing infrastructure, but with this solution – the way IoT.nxt digitises certain things – there’s no need for that,” says Human.

The IoT.nxt solution required a smaller investment, yet allowed the Britehouse Automotive team to be quicker to market and start to realise ROI for their customers faster, too. Agility in deployment means the risk and investment typically associated with a digitalisation strategy are notably absent when IoT.nxt are involved.

This allows you to show much more value to your customer which helps us build a much better relationship with our customers and, again, open the path for the future to build a lot of solutions on that platform for our customers.

So what is it, exactly, that lets Callie Human and the Britehouse Automotive team rest easily at night? It’s not knowing that they’re using the best possible IoT solution available to them. It’s knowing that their ideas will brought to life – and then some! – by a team that continues to question, innovate and adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude as they integrate and optimise entire businesses.

“They’re always willing to always try new things and, as we’ve worked together, we’ve been able to develop better solutions for our customers.

“It feels like they (IoT.nxt) are working within our business, as a part of our business, which is exactly what a partnership should be. I think is what has made our partnership over the last 12-18 months so successful,” says Human.

In closing, Human noted that what IoT.nxt has in their back pocket is unlike anything else there – and they’ve done the digging, pouring through the hundreds of platforms out there.

Companies need to understand megatrends to serve customers in the future

19 February 2018

Internet of Things technology will be one of the key catalysts to how we shape our future world, especially in the automotive industry.

This is the view of Michael Frans, Head of Business Development and Strategy for Automotive and Manufacturing Industries at T-Systems, in conversation with IoT.nxt about what new technologies will mean for business.
“To serve enterprise customers it is important to understand the megatrends in technology, in order to assist them in being ready for the new wave of technology. This includes cloud technologies and IoT. We believe that the automotive industry will become of the biggest digitalised industries in the world. It is therefore critical that a company like T-Systems understands these technologies and build competencies around where we can add the biggest value,” he says.

He notes, however, that companies cannot be anything and everything to customers. “This new world, especially in the Internet of Things, requires deep competencies. It absolutely requires expertise at every stage through the cycle. A company such as ourselves cannot provide every element required, which is why partnerships are critical. We need an eco-system of partners in order to serve our customers. Although T-Systems is a huge global business, we cannot specialise in everything.”

T-Systems spends a lot of time to investigate and interrogate what is available in the market place, especially as so many new entrants are entering the sector claiming to have new technologies and in some cases, companies have a wide offering trying to cover many different aspects. Which Frans says is unrealistic.

T-Systems first engaged IoT.nxt at the Gartner Symposium ITXpo of 2016, hosted in Cape Town, and took due consideration to get to know the company, its offering and its team members.

“IoT.nxt has found a niche to form a critical part of that eco-system to deliver value add to customers. As a fast developing start-up IoT.nxt is innovate, agile and enthusiastic. From their perspective dealing with a large multi-national company takes patience as the processes are so different. Yet, we formed a relationship over time and now consider them a key partner for IoT solutions,” he says.

“We want the solutions for our customers that IoT.nxt can deliver and value their agility, sense of excitement and the speed of delivery,” he added.

He highlighted IoT.nxt’s Raptor™ technology and says it is ‘the best of breed’ T-Systems has come across for months. “This technology differentiates IoT.nxt beyond most players in the market. Therein lies the value. So called ‘cool’ hardware that cannot add value is not what we are looking for, the Raptor adds significant value to the entire solution.”

He concluded to say that as the partnership develops over time, he foresees that there will be little distinction between where T-Systems starts and ends and where IoT.nxt starts and end. “I look forward to reaching that stage.”

A shift is unfolding in the mining industry

12 February 2018

Report by Daleen van Wyk, Corporate Communication

Mining companies are now ready for disruption and looking to introduce new technologies to drive efficiencies and revive the industry. This represents a dramatic shift in attitudes compared to a year ago.

This is the major trend identified by team IoT.nxt at the Mining Indaba hosted in Cape Town early February.

“We demonstrated the intelligent mine of the future in partnership with Deloitte and it was clear that the mining industry is looking to the future. As the 4th Industrial Revolution gains traction we expect to see mainstream adoption of innovative new technology in the mining industry,” says IoT.nxt team leader at the 2018 Mining Indaba and Director of Partnerships: Mining, Eric Croeser.

“We detected a total turnaround in attitudes compared to delegates we engaged with at the 2017 Indaba. Apart from a readiness for disruption, mining companies are actually ready to invest, which is very encouraging for an industry that remains a major employer,” Croeser says.

“There is a broad understanding that the digital way is the pivot to take the industry forward. Intelligent edge computing will be the driver to unlock systems efficiency and value to mining companies,” he added.

The digital approach is valuable because it delivers an interconnected, near real time, data driven eco-system using sensory devices on legacy and modern equipment to enhance an organisation’s ability to move from reactive to pro-active decision making. “In and industry like mining that involves so many different processes, this is extremely valuable,” Croeser says.

He noted, however, that no single company can provide everything. “You need an eco-system of partners that work together; each contributing a component of digitisation. This is Deloitte’s approach to its ‘Intelligent Mining’ project and IoT.nxt is one of its selected partners to deliver this.”

Fin24 reported that Michelle Ash, chief innovation officer of mining company Barrick, a panelist at the Indaba, said mines cannot stay where they are. “If we do we will not be able to mine anymore. Mining companies need to innovate or risk closing down.”

Ash elaborated on the use of everyday technology like smartphones and tablets and how this can improve efficiencies. “Technology should be based on human-centered design to create ease of use as opposed to having people study complex manuals.

”Financial Mail reported in its edition of 9 February 2018 that the industry’s contribution to GDP was 6.8% in 2017, slightly below the 7% recorded in 2016. “In real terms the industry grew 3.17% and contributed R312bn to the economy,” the magazine reported.

• IoT.nxt participated at the 2018 Mining Indaba in partnership with Deloitte [http://bit.ly/2BoyZAw] as part of the global consultancy’s ‘Intelligent Mining’ project.
• The Indaba attracts about 6 000 attendees; mostly from sub-Sahara Africa but also from many from other parts of the world including Canada, India and Australia.

The sky’s the limit: How Enaleni solves customer problems with IoT.nxt

9  February 2018

The claim has been made time and again: Internet of Things (IoT) solutions will change the world. But for Enaleni Holdings, an engineering firm that specialises in project management and physical asset management, this is a truth they see in action every day. After making a strategic choice to incorporate and embrace IoT solutions into their portfolio, the level 1 BBBEE company has been solving problems for customers in new and exciting ways that matter.

“IoT is big in our business,” said Maxwell Nemutshili, Business Development Director at Enaleni. “It makes up about 25 percent at the moment and we are planning to ramp it up to close to 50 percent of the business by end of the year 2018.”

Such an ambitious target speaks to the market potential and reality that Enaleni, which means ‘place of abundance’, has experienced. Since taking on the mission to introduce the Fourth Industrial Revolution to its markets, the company has had great success in delivering enhanced value to both engineers on the ground and decision makers. This is particularly significant around physical asset performance tracking, an area Enaleni excels in, but has also delivered in other areas of the business.

“IoT technology is important to us,” explained Enaleni’s MD, Sicelo Myeni. “Our key focus is in physical asset management, so we see it as an enabler for us to be able to provide services to clients so that we can add value to their bottom line. Physical asset management data capturing previously has been predominantly a manual exercise in most cases, whereas now with the internet of things you are able to get realtime information tracking of that asset’s performance, whether it’s the location or utilisation.”

This is not merely enthusiasm for IoT. Enaleni has found that customers generally grasp the benefits of these new solutions. The challenge instead is that of delivery: can the solution be implemented quickly and cost-effectively? Such assurances are crucial to building and maintaining customer relationships, said Myeni:

“The importance of fastly deploying the technology is key. Clients want to see quick results, especially on the technology side where it’s new in the market. So if you go in there, if you bring technology that is slow to implement, people quickly lose hope and trust in the technology. You need to show results for people to buy in. The quicker you deploy and people see the results, the easier for clients to have a buy-in on the technology. The speed is very important.”

Such success hinges on the right partners. Both Myeni and Nemutshili underlined the importance of a partner reinforcing their ability to deploy the right solution quickly, at the right price and through interactions that align with Enaleni’s culture. Even though there are several IoT companies globally that can tick some of the boxes, only IoT.nxt meets all the requirements.

“IoT.nxt provides IoT platforms and with that we as Enaleni don’t have to develop that platform,” said Nemutshili. “But we can play a big role in customising that for our clients, and also doing the project management and integration of all different systems to the client. IoT.nxt fits in very well, because they are locally based and the cost to develop is quite lower. The other thing is the Raptor, which can integrate different devices and other systems.”

IoT.nxt’s proprietary Raptor bridging technology has been a huge advantage for Enaleni, which counts industries such as mines and chemical manufacturers as among their clients. These are industries with a lot of established investments that they want to elevate into the new era of real-time decision making. By utilising the Raptor and its ecosystem, Enaleni is capable of leveraging their own expertise without wringing hands over the nitty gritty of getting the established to communicate with the new.

“They understand the market, the South African market,” Myeni concluded. “Most of the guys there have got operational experience. So the solutions presented are practical. We’ve enjoyed a good working relationship, there’s a good understanding between Enaleni and IoT.nxt. There is an understanding from IoT.nxt that there is a big opportunity in the market with smart asset management in the different industries. The sky is the limit.”

 

2017: A pivotal year in the IoT.nxt story.

It’s hard to believe that the end of 2017 is upon us. Weren’t we all just sitting around a table, bright eyed and imagining what this year would have in store for us? We could never have anticipated how amazing this year would be, nor how it would set us up for what we believe will be a pivotal year in the IoT.nxt story.

We’ve put together a list of some of the big moments, and we’ll get on to them in just a second. Wekick this off with some big data, as we like to do here at IoT.nxt. Not to be confused with the technology we so love, this is just data that we believe will illustrate how big the year was for us.

500% – that’s the increase in revenue. Let that sink in for a second…

200% – that’s the increase in local talent we’ve employed.

5000% growth , that’s the number of growth in endpoints we’ve connected. That number, however, is nothing if we don’t look at the vast improvements we’ve made in negating legacy latency issues, network overload and slow decision making.

Now, before we look back, let’s look ahead a bit.

This incredible place in our story that we find ourselves in is 24 months in the making. Reiterated by industry, we’re more confident than ever in the role that the edge is going to play in the future of IoT technology and deployment and guess what? We’ve been at the edge for the last 3 years already.

Now, with added machine learning, AI and cognitive analytical capabilities being woven into our product suite, we believe that transactional capability at the edge will be key to this technology purely because the proliferation and amount of devices and the type of operation, requires that we bring more and more intelligence to the edge to build more intelligent, dynamic IoT-enabled environments and really unlock the potential of the industries in which we operate.

With our strategic partners like Microsoft, Intel, SAP and IBM on board, we believe we’re going to be able to incorporate specific components of technology into our framework to bring even greater value to our clients in the form of IoT-as-a Service!

Having successfully kicked off our global expansion plan with an office in the Netherlands focusing on externalizing our IP, our London office gaining momentum, being on the cusp of expansion into the EU and been able to sign up some impressive global SIs, the future looks bright.

Come the third quarter of 2018, we believe we will be firmly planted in the US, set to tackle an advanced market that we feel is lacking what we have – and what we have is currently leading the global race.

Our office, which holds a now doubled staff compliment, is brimming with the brightest minds and we hold each of them dear.

Armed with all of this, I think it’s safe to say this:

Watch out, 2018, we’re stepping up the pace, setting our sights on delivering leading-edge R&D and software, and coming for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from 2017

In no particular order, these are some of the highlights of the year that was.

R100 million – we’re in the club!

The juggernaut moment that catapulted 2017 into the history books is also the one that keeps humbling us. The day our R100 million investment was confirmed was the day we realised our dreams were becoming a reality and that being from South Africa wasn’t going to stop us from taking on the globe.

The backing came via Talent 10 Holdings, a Midrand-based asset management company that has been – and continues to be – critical to our success.

What we found out: When paired with the right people, great things can happen. These guys stuck their necks out for us and we delivered, so they did, too. 100 million times over.

And the winner is…

The MTN M2M awards is a much anticipated event. This year, nominated in a few categories, two of our founding members COO Terje Moen and CTO Bertus Jacobs were invited to receive the awards for Best Commercial IoT Solution, and Overall IoT Winner. Having developed what was dubbed a world-leading framework that makes the efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT a reality for businesses.

MTN M2M Overall IoT winner

MTN M2M Best Commercial IoT Solution

What we found out: There are few things as rewarding as hearing an audience of your peers and competitors cheer as you are given an honour as high as this!

In good company: Collision – and boy did we collide.

By invitation, our CEO and VP of Partnerships popped over to New Orleans to attend America’s fastest growing tech conference.

Joining a global line up of rapidly expanding startups and the world’s largest companies and media publications, the two scouted out the best of what the world has to offer and witnessed a star-studded list of speakers highlight industry issues. Just ask them about Walter Isaacson, Suzy Deering, Wyclef Jean, Lauren Crampsie; Geoff Snyder, or Mike Curtis next time you see them.

What we found out: Our product offering is on a different level and ahead of the global incumbents.

IT Personality Finalist

It’s no secret that our CEO, Nico, has a big personality. Although the IoT.nxt product offering usually takes centre stage, the industry sat up and took notice of the fearless leader who inspires us all on a daily basis and has pushed every single trooper in our office to new heights.

Amongst several of the brightest minds in the tech industry in South Africa, our Chief was nominated for the award of IT Personality of the Year by the Information Technology Professionals of South Africa (IITPSA).

What we found out: The industry appreciates, and needs, Mr Steyn as much as we do to drive us all forward.

Global Expansion: UK, Netherlands, USA

In a blog post earlier this year we called ourselves the local underdog. The South African startup taking on global giants. We were, but we’re not anymore.

We successfully kicked off our global expansion plan, with our office in the Netherlands, being in full swing and our London office gaining momentum daily. Come the third quarter of 2018, we believe we will be firmly planted in the USA, ready to tackle an advanced market that we feel is lacking what we have – an edge-intelligence IoT solution which is currently leading the global race.

It’s not just the borders we’re knocking down – it’s the industry siloes, too.

We’ve deployed into 13 different verticals and been able to engage with some of the top tier clients in our territory. Whilst they will each continue to get the attention and personalised service they deserve, we look forward to rolling out some exciting projects as our technology is adopted.

Here are just a few of our partnerships:

  • Microsoft GOLD Partners
  • IBM Business Partner
  • SAP strategic partner
  • Intel Strategic partner
  • Dell Strategic partner

What we know: We have the right people, platforms and products on board to complement our offering and help us reach even greater heights.

The edge ate the cloud

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.

The current IoT model is constrained by networks and will not work because it’s not sustainable. If you consider the trillions of sensors being deployed in a truly digitalised environment, you would be unsurprised to learn how much data is flowing up to the cloud on a minute-by-minute basis, let alone the resultant latency.

In some cases 99% of the data doesn’t need to come into the cloud because it’s benign. It’s just data that’s being generated that’s not telling us anything other than that the ‘thing’ is within threshold. The forklift is standing still or going along its regular route, the power supply is stable, etc. Pushing all sensor data to the cloud for it to be assimilated and processed and then pushing it into the edge device to change the behaviour of the machine is the long way around.

What we have been saying: We started 2017 out by saying that IoT intelligence is migrating to the edge, but in closing the year we’re confident enough to say that it’s not migrating – we’ve moved it.

Innovation

This year, we formally announced a project team whose focus was to aid in the packaging of our product to formalise our Product as a Service (PaaS) offering. Through this, the extendibility of platform, our growing product base and successful extraction of raptor IP – allowing us to run on multiple gateway platforms – we can confidently say that we have grown in all the right places. We set out to do a few great things with our technology and by engineering and developing our software to amp up ease of use to ensure seamless deployment we managed to knock all expectations out the park.

Machine learning and AI

Data is just data unless you harness it’s true potential. Being comfortable and resting on your laurels for just a moment will lead to you being overtaken. It’s for these reasons that we decided to start extracting the true power of what our technology has to offer – and it’s nothing without a little bit of artificial intelligence.

Data is great, but it’s what you do with it that really matters. Pushing all data into a cloud or on-premise database can lead to a phenomenon of looking for a needle in a haystack. Once you start running your numbers through some BI and AI applications, and setting thresholds for real-time shifts in deployment you’ll start to see the true potential of IoT. Data filtration and orchestration at the edge are driving the organizational change by shifting the focus from ‘sensor to cloud’ to edge intelligence.

What we discovered: The way we’re treating data abnormalities lowers network constraints. The way we’re incorporating machine learning is making the deployment of our technology more effective, daily.

Top ranking on IoT leaderboard

 It’s one thing when the local industry sits up and takes notice of your hard work. It’s another thing altogether when a global industry watchdog does. We saw ourselves shoot up from a meager number – 734 – to the top 50 global IoT leaders to watch.

What we learned: Our small strides have not gone unnoticed. The internet is always watching!

Making waves, and jobs.

 We believe in creating the kind of environments in which talented creatives can thrive. This year, as we moved into a home created with our people in mind and designed to suit their every need as they build and support our business, we doubled our staff complement. You read that right, we managed to double our team. They’re all local, highly intelligent individuals who add to both our culture and help keep us at the cutting edge of technology. We’re proud of our people – can you tell?

“I believe that from a South African perspective, we often sell ourselves short and don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve,” Nico Steyn says. “We have unbelievable people at IoT.nxt, and that’s what makes our business – it’s the calibre of people we have. I’m a firm believer in investing in people and following our own way of thinking.”

With this incredible talent on board, and a management team that continues to bring out the very best in each of us, it’s not surprising that 2017 saw a 500% increase in revenue to IoT.nxt.

Why this is important: Without our people, we’re nothing. We need every soul, every nordic soldier and yoda-esque brainiac wandering our halls to make this finely tuned machine function.

That’s a wrap

It’s been a massive year and, while many would be getting ready to put their feet up and enjoy the festive season with their nearest and dearest, we’re just wrapping up our warm up.

In short, 2018, watch out. IoT.nxt is coming for you.

Year in review, the movie: http://vimeo.com/248435300

#Summer: No more melted ice cream

13 December 2017

Ice cream is temperamental and can start changing quickly once the surrounding temperature is altered. One negligent moment of leaving a fridge open can spoil a lot of stock, leading to a double down of losses: goods and reputational damage. Yet with display fridges spread across the country in garage shops, supermarkets and cafes, it is impossible to control the ecosystem sufficiently. Compounding this are the traditional fridges, which though apt at cooling are not sophisticated enough to lend much of a hand. Replacing them all with modern equivalents is a huge and often debilitating cost.

Smollan, an international retail solutions company, partnered with IoT.nxt to develop a platform for this quandary. Utilising its Raptor gateway devices and Commander cloud platform, IoT.nxt has crafted a solution that brings stoic display fridges into the 21st century. A simple retrofitting operation transforms a fridge into an active data sentry, reporting the nuances of its operations. 

Sensors are added if needed, monitoring metrics such as the interior temperature, ambient temperature, door usage and status, power usage, and even location. It may not be a surprise that such fridges are attractive targets for criminals, because they are well-designed and convenient appliances. But by leveraging internet of things technologies, they can be geo-fenced.

The ice cream operator now enjoys a full view of its entire fridge territory, from a top-down overview right up to individual fridges. By utilising GSM networks, all the monitoring is in real-time, while the data is collected and presented intuitively through the Commander dashboards. This data is then analysed to extract real insights, enabling companies to build long-term strategy around fridge behaviours, perhaps even predicting when stock levels will run low. 

But to a more fundamental advantage, each fridge can trigger alarms if it encounters problems. A fridge door left open can be alerted through the dashboards, as well as email and sms messages. Events can also be escalated if nothing happens. Yet the true advantage here is that the workflow for these events can be set and adjusted by the fridge operator. By utilising a drag-and-drop interface, IoT.nxt’s system makes sense with the smallest amount of introduction. Those who own the platform can adjust and expand it as they see fit.

Managing ice cream and avoiding fridge theft once seemed like insurmountable problems that only a massive replacement initiative could have addressed. But well-crafted IoT technologies make it possible to modernise existing display fridges at a fraction of the cost and in very little time. That same improvement opens the doors to intuitive analytics that start delivering even more value beyond avoiding freezer burn. Made in Africa, this solution is tried-and-tested for the continent’s hot summers, which can now be even more lucrative with less risk.

In the past, ice cream operators could only hold their thumbs and hope for the best. Now, though, they can enjoy actual insight and exercise real control in the now and into the future. This is the power of IoT, created by Smollan and IoT.nxt.

 

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