As more devices become connected, businesses are exploring the opportunity to harness the IoT to protect and track their assets – everything from livestock to plant equipment, but this will need more than just a device, writes REINHARDT VAN ROOYEN, Innovation Strategist at Jasco.
At present, business IoT deployments focus on monitoring, measuring and control, but new use cases are being developed all the time as companies begin to IoT-enable legacy devices and systems alongside new environments. Asset tracking has long been vital to organisations and IoT provides a welcome new way to enhance the efficiency of these systems.
IoT-enablement can mitigate and minimise tangible losses such as theft and vandalism, but can also help address the intangible losses companies experience when assets are not fully or properly utilised. This makes IoT a very compelling value proposition for a wide variety of applications.
* Right now, IoT devices are being used in the agricultural sector to monitor the health of calving cows, alerting farmers just before they give birth. This has led to a large reduction in complications in calving and increased the number of successful births.
* IoT devices are also being dropped into shipping packages or containers, alerting the package owner to its location and providing information on its status.
* In vehicle tracking, IoT devices now monitor driver behaviour, alerting fleet managers via the cloud of speeding or other transgressions. This information influences driver behaviour, reducing risk.
* For critical or high value assets, a properly designed IoT solution can provide a deterrent to theft, offer critical information about the actual event for investigative purposes, and offer options for recovery after the fact. The data will also enable companies to compile risk profiles for different types of assets in different scenarios, allowing them to change the way they operate to minimise their exposure to the risk factors.
The technology can be easy to apply. Tracking devices come in a large range of configurations, ranging from small battery-operated devices that can be attached or integrated into an asset, or built directly into the asset. Each deployment can be customized to the operating requirements of the asset. This includes the granularity of the information gathered or transmitted, how often updates are sent and what actions to take when an alert is triggered. The IoT device communicates via one or more networks, ranging from low-power, low-range local networks to low-power Wide Area and Cellular networks. However, a successful deployment will depend on more than just the performance of the technology – to be useful and to provide immediate value, IoT data needs to be integrated into existing systems.
This means that companies should look for an IoT solution, not just a device. It is recommended that a partner IoT with experience assists to identify and provide the technology and integration skills needed, helping to you design, deploy, maintain and customise your solution.
The flexibility of the technology means companies can start small, deploying a few IoT devices on valuable assets, and then expand the rollout as the benefits are realised. In fact, organisations will find that IoT enablement keeps giving back in unexpected ways – the power that IoT unlocks is greatly increased when the data from a device is linked to other systems, such as an inventory management or route optimisation system.
As IoT grows, there is significant opportunity to perform better risk management and increase operating efficiencies. Now is the time to explore this technology. I believe that companies that start now, will position themselves well to gain advantage in their industry sectors.
Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets
Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.
Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps.
Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.
Vodafone Smart Kicka 4
At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.
The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018.
Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games.
Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.
Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer.
The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past.
Huawei Y3 (2018)
The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are.
Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.
Comparing the 3
All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker.
Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.
SA gets digital archive
As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive.
The southafrica.co.za site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.
Designed as a nation building, educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.
The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.
At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.
Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.
“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.
Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.