Business-focused service provider Kordia, together with partner Thinxtra, says its dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network has reached 88 per cent coverage of the New Zealand population, close to its goal of covering 95% of the population.
According to Aaron Olphert, Chief Digital Officer at Kordia, there has been significant interest in the low-power network – which is based on Sigfox technology – and the company is aiming to sell one million IoT connections over the next three years.
“Already, we are seeing pent up demand from companies that recognise the potential offered by the IoT, but also understand that existing connectivity options and the associated costs are not workable,” says Olphert.
The Sigfox network provides the necessary infrastructure through which small mobile IoT sensors can communicate, regardless of location. But before that can happen, Olphert says a network which can connect those sensors in a cost-effective way is required.
“Existing IoT sensors typically need a SIM card at the very least, as well as a powerful battery and / or an alternative power source. These existing IoT sensors have the cost and battery life of a mobile phone, essentially making millions or billions of sensors impractical and cost prohibitive,” says Olphert.
By contrast, Olphert highlights that Sigfox provides a dedicated, low-power network which brings the cost of connectivity for IoT sensors down to a fraction of existing connectivity. ‘Low-power’ is an essential characteristic as it means the sensors can be equipped with small batteries that can last for more than a decade.
Kordia and Thinxtra’s Sigfox network now covers some 88 per cent of the country’s population, from Invercargill to Whangarei. Kordia has just extended South Island coverage to Ashburton, Oamaru and Timaru and is in the process of deploying the network in Queenstown.
IoT and safer schools
Auckland Transport is among the organisations interested in the IoT network, and sees an opportunity to improve school safety by connecting school zone road signs to the network – a proof of concept solution developed by Massey University in conjunction with Auckland-based industrial design company Motiv.
The University was first connected in 2016 and is the first university on both sides of the Tasman to have full Sigfox coverage. It now has coverage at all its campuses and has partnered with Thinxtra to develop IoT solutions.
Associate Professor Johan Potgieter says the live trial is in place at three schools and has demonstrated the impact that IoT will have on the everyday lives of New Zealanders by automatically monitoring the status of safety equipment (electronic school zone signs).
“Controlling the school signs used to rely on a manual operation, often by the school’s receptionist, over a short range RF link. There was no visibility on the status of the signs, which often relied on the public or school to report their condition. Now the signs are connected to the Sigfox network, real-time information on their status and full control and monitoring is now available on a web application.”
“We were delighted to be involved in one of the first projects using the new IoT network now available in New Zealand, which could revolutionise the ITS (Intelligent Traffic Systems) sector,” continued Professor Johan.
Shaun McBride, Thinxtra’s NZ deployment manager, says the Sigfox network is the ‘missing link’ for the delivery of IoT solutions. “The concept of connecting just about anything to the internet and then gathering information from it has long intrigued those who recognise that measurement leads to improvement.
“But without the infrastructure to do it at very low cost and without long life battery powered sensors, it hasn’t yet been possible – something which is rapidly changing as our network is readied for fully covering most of the NZ population.”
Thinxtra and Kordia are also currently working with a range of ecosystem partners on solutions that include agriculture, asset tracking, service-on-demand, road infrastructure and natural resource use cases.