Showing posts with label Cellular IoT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cellular IoT. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 March 2020

How Cellular IoT and AI Can Help to Overcome Extreme Poverty in a Climate-resilient Way

The Democratic Republic ofthe Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa and it has a significant potential for agricultural development as the country has more land (235 million hectares) than Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, combined, of which only 3.4% is cultivated.

Despite this, around 13 millions of Congolese live in extreme food insecurity, among them 5 millions acutely malnourished children. Current assessments show the trend is increasing.

In the southern provinces formerly known as "Katanga" the needs in maize for human consumption sum up to 700,000 tons per year, while the local production barely amounts to 120,000 tons per year. This means the provinces have to resort to importing food from neighboring countries, which represents a huge burden on the region's economy.

Another aspect of the problem is that 80% of the local production is made by women farmers, and the biggest challenge they face is the lack of daily agronomic monitoring and guidance. There is only a limited amount of agriculture experts in the region and without assistance, the farmersaverage output is at best one ton per hectare. However, field trials have proven that by using smart farming technology they can easily produce up to 6 tons per hectare year over year with the right sustainable approach and support. Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics underpinned by mobile connectivity can even do more. They bring significant potential for capturing carbon, optimizing water, pesticide and fertilizer usage, and reducing soil erosion. Thus, African women can not only provide the solution to the local food gap/insecurity but also become the primary protectors of their environment.

The basic technical concept is not new. Back in 2016 Ooredoo Myanmar launched Site Pyo, a mobile agriculture information service for smallholder farmers. At its core Site Pyo is a weather forecast app that was enhanced with weather-dependent advice for ten crops, from seed selection to harvesting and storage. In addition the app displays the actual market prices for these crops. GSMA as a co-funder of the project celebrates Site Pyo as a big success, but it seems to be limited to Myanmar. Why?

„A lot of customization needs to be done to adapt the application functionality for a particular region“, says Dieu-Donné Okalas Ossami, CEO of „e-tumba“, a French Start-up specialized in smart farming solutions for Sub-Sahara Africa. His company partners with iTK, a spin-off from CIRAD, the French Institute for tropical agronomy. The iTK crop-specific predictive models are based on years of agronomic data, but have originally been designed for big farmers. To meet the demands of women in Katanga requires more granular data for both, input and output.

As in case of Site Pyo weather predictions are important, but in addition there are data feeds from sensors on the spot. Weather stations measure constantly temperature and rainfall while sensors in the soil report its saturation with water, nitrogen and potassium.

„A typical real-time advice that our software provides is to delay the harvest for some additional days to maximize the yield“, explains Okalas Ossami. „However, even for two neighboring fields the particular advices are often different.“ 

Also the communication channels need to be taylored. Many women farmers are illiterate. For them the advice must be translated into the local language they speak and transmitted to their phones as a voice message. Those who can read and write will receive the notifications through short message service.

The mobile connectivity that links all elements of the system is realized by the mobile network operators present in the region.


Infographic: The Technical Environment Behind the Project
„Actually NB-IoT would fit to our use case“, says Okalas Ossami, „but it is not available. And there is neither LoRa nor SigFox.“ Hence, the sensors are using data connections of 3G and 4G radio access technology. In case of network outage or missing coverage a local field technician must collect the sensor data manually and transfer it to the data center through alternative channels.

It is the same field technician who installs the sensors. The woman farmers receive a basic training to understand how the system works, but they do not need to care about technical components - except keeping their mobile phones charged.

Here comes another important aspect into the game: How can the women trust this technical environment?

In case of Site Pyo the operator Ooredoo observed a quickly increasing user community measured by the number of app downloads. However, there was no indication to which extend the Myanmar farmers really used the app. The e-tumba solution addresses this gap by partnering with the non-government organization „Anzafrika“.

Anzafrika is present in the villages where the people live. One of its major targets is to overcome the extreme poverty by developing the regional economy. A key factor for this is that the smallholder farmers do not just see the market prices for their crops, but get real access to large, stable and long-term markets where these prices are paid. Anzafrika is brokering contracts between the woman farmers and large multinational corporations committed to the Economics of Mutuality, growing human, social and natural capital. The business model behind this concept was outlined by Bruno Roche and Jay Jakub in their book „Completing Capitalism:Heal Business to Heal the World“. Instead of focusing on greenhouse gas emissions (output) they insist that climate-resilient business models must measure the input needed for manufacturing goods. As an example: For one hot cup of coffee the greenhouse gas emissions are extremely low, but 3.4 liters of water are needed (most for packaging, processing and drinking) and 12 gram of top soil will be eroded. These are (among others) the expenses paid by the planet that are not taken into account by a carbon tax.

Coffee plantations are monocultures with all the known disadvantages resulting form this kind of farming. In the past the Congolese women farmers have grown maize as a monoculture. Now, with advice from Anzafrika and e-tumba they transitioned from an „all-maize“ sustenance crop to a semi-industrial „maize-sorghum“ production. This helps to minimize the top soil erosion and thus, to remunerate the natural capital involved in the process.  

Regarding the human and social capital Anzafrika monitors how the overall situation in the villages  is improving. The focus is on progress in well-beeing, satisfaction and health not just for the women farmers, but for their entire communities.

In 2019 smart farming technology have been tested and deployed with a group of 150 women in the province of Lualaba. Now, in 2020, their number is expected to rise to 500 and after 6 years the stunning target of 100,000 participants shall be met. A look at the download numbers of Site Pyo (206,000 in the course of one year) shows that these numbers are not over-optimistic.

The partnership between Anzafrika, e-tumba and iTK is now considered as a best international practice, as indicated by Patrick Gilabert, UNIDO Representative to the European Union in Brussels. It fully aligns with the development of new comprehensive strategies for Africa that aim at creating a partnership of equals and mutual interest through agriculture, trade and investment partnerships.

UNIDO, as the UN convener for the implementation of the Industrial Decade for Development of Africa” (IDDA 3) is always ready to join forces with innovative partners.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

R&S Webinar on LTE-A Pro and evolution to 5G


Rohde & Schwarz recently uploaded a webinar video on their YouTube channel. I found it really useful. It's embedded below.

Topics covered:

  • LTE-M / NB-IoT
    • feMTC
    • UE Category M2
    • OTDOA based positioning
  • UE Categories
  • Unlicensed Spectrum Overview
  • LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum
    • LWA, LWIP
    • LAA, eLAA
    • Wi-Fi
    • LBT
    • LWA mobility
  • Carrier Aggregation Enhancements
  • Multi-user superposition transmission (MUST)
  • Single cell - point to multipoint transmission (SC-PTM)
    • SC-PTM Channel Structure
    • SC-PTM Channel Flow
  • Massive MIMO
  • V2X Overview
    • eNB scheduling - transmission mode 3
    • Distributed scheduling - transmission mode 4
    • Direct communication
  • LTE Advanced Pro (Release 15)
    • Further NB-IoT Enhancements
    • Even further enhanced MTC - eMTC4 (Rel-15)



Related Posts:

Friday, 28 September 2018

Multi-technology :The future of IoT geolocation

In the big world of IoT, location tracking  is the  next  frontier!. Location tracking for humans is already an integral part of our lives especially for navigation. Traditional technologies enabling this are  not only expensive, they  have technical boundaries preventing scaling. For IoT geolocation to become a true reality, it is inevitable it has to be  extremely accurate, extremely low cost, and extremely low touch. 

Where is the market?


Research and Markets predict revenues from Geo IoT will reach $49 billion by 2021.

Just as location determination has become an essential element of personal communications, so shall presence detection and location-aware technologies be key to the long-term success of the Internet of Things (IoT). Geo IoT will positively impact many industry verticals. – Research and Market report about “Geo IoT Technologies, Services, and Applications Market Outlook: Positioning, Proximity, Location Data and Analytics 2016 – 2021.”

Connecting IoT objects is already a large market growing exponentially with the mix of unlicensed Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRaWAN, and combined more recent introduction of Cellular IoT technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M. Adding Geolocation to this introduces a whole range of new applications not possible before. Some of these applications are:
  1. Asset Management
  2. Fleet Management
  3. Anti-theft scooter/bike rental
  4. Logistics/parcel bags tracking
  5. Worker safety for Oil and Gas
  6. Elderly and Disabled care
  7. Tracking solution for skiers
  8. Pets and Animal tracking

The above applications represent large existing market which can be only be enabled with extremely low cost and low power trackers. This is the reason why LPWAN-enabled geolocation is in fact a separate product category for large existing market.

The challenges involved (Asset tracking as an example case study)


Railway cars, truck trailers, containers: tracking valuable assets on the move is a pain point for most large distributed organizations involved in logistics and supply chain, typically relying on partners such as distributors to correctly register check-in and check-out events. This registration process at specific checkpoints is usually manual, intermittent and subject to human errors.  To tackle this issue, an IoT low power asset tracking system using LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) trackers brings a “timeless” checkpoint solution. Specifically, LoRaWAN™-based trackers, because of their low power, low cost and lightweight infrastructure, provide a first truly reliable tracking solution allowing to reduce downtime during transportation. 

In the logistics sector, many business cases involve additional costs due to inefficient utilization of assets. Transport companies need to invest in freight railway cars, car logistics companies need to invest in truck trailers, and of course there are the standard containers and pallets.

“The profitability of these business cases directly depends on the minimization of asset downtime: every day or hour lost in a warehouse, parking or rail station reduces the number of times the moving asset will generate profit in a year.”

However, measuring this downtime is also a challenge. Traditional solutions involved cellular or satellite trackers, which require significant CAPEX, but perhaps more importantly also ongoing OPEX due to battery replacements and connectivity costs. In some cases, trackers are located in hard to reach areas especially when mounted on railroad cars, or in oil and gas rigs, which makes it very costly to replace batteries especially if there are several hundreds of thousands of trackers deployed in the field. The battery replacement is done by humans and is one of the dominating OPEX factors in overall Total Cost of Ownership ( TCO) of the whole solution. These replacement costs actually made it difficult to justify the mass adoption of conventional geolocation solutions in the logistics sector.


LPWAN trackers: a game changer

LoRaWAN  is LPWAN connectivity standard developed by LoRa Alliance primarily for unlicensed ISM spectrum, to create disruption in both the technology and business models. On the technology front, the main impact is on drastic reduction of power consumption, which reduces battery usage and ultimately also OPEX related to ongoing maintenance. It also creates new opportunities for more dynamic tracking, as communication events are less costly. On the business model side, logistics companies can now trade off between CAPEX and OPEX: most LPWAN systems operate on an unlicensed band, for example the leading LoRaWAN™  technology operates in the 915MHz band in the US, the 868MHz band in Europe and equivalent ISM bands in other parts of the world. This means that logistics companies can invest in their own wireless networks to reduce or eliminate variable connectivity costs.

“The cost of LPWAN radio network gateways has decreased due to higher production volumes and are now affordable even to very small logistic centers, such as a car distributor. “

 Next generation LPWAN trackers


The potential of LPWAN-enabled tracking requires a new generation of hardware. The lower radio frequency power consumption is only a part of a massive effort to decrease overall power consumption of the whole system. This requires developing a multi-technology geolocation tracker platform that can combine GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi Sniffing, WiFi fingerprinting and Bluetooth with the goal of reducing power consumption and provide location information opportunistically in variety of scenarios such as (indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, slow/fast moving and so on). 

Another key factor is the usage of LPWAN technologies such as (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for transporting geolocation data back to the cloud. This is the key as traditional cellular technologies such as 2G/3G/4G are just too power hungry to meet the target goal of 5-10 year battery lifetime. However, there will be licensed Cellular IoT options based on NB-IoT/LTE-M that will be also be used for some of the applications.

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

LoRaWAN and Low Power GPS significantly increases battery lifetime

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

Merging an IoT network solution such as LoRaWAN with  multi-mode geolocation technologies for outdoor and indoor positioning increase by at least a factor of 10 the battery lifetime compared to the standard cellular solution using GSM/AGPS. Source: Actility

The Road Ahead:


The next frontier in IoT geolocation will be two fold. The first will be the multi-technology cloud platform that will combine intelligently Over-The-Top (OTT) geolocation technologies such as GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with network based TDoA geolocation technologies using LoRaWAN and/or Cellular. This requires close cooperation between public network operators with geolocation service providers.

Webinar: MULTI-TECHNOLOGY IOT GEOLOCATION
The future of IoT geolocation is multi-technology


In order to shed some light on the above mentioned points, we are hosting a webinar that explains where  we will explore the challenges of network-based geolocation and how it can be combined with other geolocation technologies such as GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. We will explain how multi-technology geolocation differs from traditional cellular+GPS based geolocation, and show how it opens up an entirely new market and product category. We’ll also explore how multi-technology geolocation meets the requirements and use cases for connecting small sensors which are low-cost with very long battery lifetime. A guest speaker from KPN will share selected case studies demonstrating IoT geolocation deployments and discuss real-world experience. The webinar will conclude with outlook for technological evolution in the field, and give an overview of our Location portfolio.

What will you learn from this webinar?
  1. What are the market opportunities and use cases enabled by IoT Geolocation?
  2. What are the benefits of multi-technology geolocation?
  3. What are the benefits of using LPWAN technologies(LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for connectivity?
  4. How LPWAN-enabled Geolocation will evolve in the future?
  5. How is Actility building multi-technology geolocation platform?

Follow the link below for registration to the webinar,

For any questions, contact the author below,