Industrial automation

Is 5G the Answer to Connectivity for Industrial IoT?

By: Shahzad Nadeem

Head of Smart Cities

10th Sept 2020

4 minute read

Home » Insights » Smart Cities

As the first cellular network technology designed to support industrial use cases, 5G is billed to become the basis for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and enabler for Industry 4.0 technologies, such as VR, AR and AI.

Certainly, the promises of super-fast data 5G rates, ultra-low latency and vastly increased network capacity are essential for the high-quality connectivity demands of the industrial sector. But will 5G live up to expectations? What are the challenges and opportunities? And when can we expect to see widespread adoption of the technology?

What is it good for?
Industrial connectivity use cases for 5G range from smart factories with real-time process automation, to wide-area connected products with lifecycle management. To address these different connectivity requirements, businesses currently have to deploy multiple networks. LAN technologies such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Lora are used for in-building connectivity, while a combination of LAN and WAN solutions are used for connectivity between buildings and fibre, cellular and satellite handle remote assets.

Wired or wireless?
Existing wireless technologies do not provide the stringent low latency performance required for industrial automation, hence the heavy reliance on wired technologies for time-critical applications. But the deployment flexibility, reduced cost of manufacturing, installation and maintenance, and long-term reliability compared to wired connections, makes wireless technologies very attractive for industrial markets.

So far, cellular connectivity has typically been used only for those use cases that involve mobile assets, such as fleet management and asset tracking. Research by Analysis Mason suggests this is due to a combination of technical and commercial limitations of existing cellular networks. The current quality of connectivity is not sufficient for mission-critical applications, while the cost of the SIM business model presents a barrier to adoption and the public network model is not always considered suitable for an industrial setting.

Promises, promises
5G promises to address the performance-related issues as well as enabling entirely new use cases. The ability to connect and transfer data from up to 1 million sensors per km2, allowing continuous collection of data from vast numbers of sensors, will enable remote monitoring and predictive maintenance of manufacturing assets. Low latency together with edge cloud capabilities will underpin real-time processes such as collaborative robots for process automation, and high reliability will support mission-critical operations.
These can be delivered via private 5G networks, offering a level of control and security comparable to wired networks. However, the development of the 5G standard is not yet complete, with enhancements enabling ultra-reliable low latency communications (uRLCC) yet to arrive, as well as the upgrades to infrastructure needed to offer standalone 5G.

From power gen to remote surgery
The mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communication) and uRLLC capabilities sit at the core of 5G use cases in industry. Some industrial processes demand extremely tight KPIs for communications between controllers and devices. Use cases like power generation and distribution, process automation, motion control and communication between different controls rely heavily on low latency capability.

But there is a host of other use cases that need 5G. Take tactile communications such as remote surgery, health care monitoring, online gaming and synchronised remote music. Then there are autonomous vehicles, drones and robotic applications like sense-and-avoid, automated overtake, collaborative collision avoidance, HDVP (high-density vehicle platooning) and V2X (Vehicle to everything) communications. And high-density communications like smart wearables, connected stadiums and IoT are all other use cases that need 5G to deliver.

Payback
While the challenges are considerable, the potential added value of running industrial use cases on improved connectivity is substantial. A study by Barclays predicted a potential £2 billion increase in annual UK manufacturing revenues by 2025 as a result of 5G implementation. Another recent McKinsey study predicts improved connectivity in manufacturing and other advanced industries could result in $400-650 billion of global GDP impact by 2030.

But despite these predictions, progress towards implementing 5G has been hampered by several issues. With the technology still evolving and the value potential split across use cases in different domains, there are difficulties in justifying the business case and ROI. There are also cultural barriers, because successful 5G deployment in manufacturing relies on multiple players across an ecosystem, from manufacturing engineers to telecoms providers who need to engage and cooperate. There are also concerns around security and ownership of data, as well as compatibility and interoperability with existing systems.

First in the game

There has been a tug of war between mobile network operators across the world to be the first in launching 5G networks. Oreedo, the Qatari mobile operator, was announced as the first 5G network mainly using eMBB capabilities for FWA and demonstrated the use of low altitude drone with 5G. Telecom Italia announced San Marino to be the first European state to provide state wide 5G coverage, bringing together eMBB and mMTC capabilities in the mmWave band. Vodacom group launched Africa’s first 5G capability in the 3.5GHz band for FWA access. Interestingly the South Korean government forced the main three mobile operators -SK Telecom, KT and LG to launch 5G at the same time. China mobile, China Telecom, NTT Docomo, Kddi and Telstra in Asia, were also the first to do mass 5g trails in different cities. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-mobile in USA deployed 5G networks in different bands targeting varied market sectors. Vodafone , Telefonica, Orange and Three mobile have deployed their 5G networks in Europe and there is a lot of emphasis on private 5G networks. It’s a busy marketplace, but there is a difference between launch and full deployment.

Be in it to win it
5G has the potential to offer a strong foundation for IIoT technology and to play a key role in driving the future of Industry 4.0. In time, it may even become the standard wireless technology of choice for industrial connectivity. Although the technology is still evolving, for businesses to stay competitive it is essential that they explore the new possibilities presented by 5G. In addition, to steer future development and ensure that their specific industry needs are met, it is increasingly important that they engage and collaborate across the 5G value chain.

As the first cellular network technology designed to support industrial use cases, 5G is billed to become the basis for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and enabler for Industry 4.0 technologies, such as VR, AR and AI.

Certainly, the promises of super-fast data 5G rates, ultra-low latency and vastly increased network capacity are essential for the high-quality connectivity demands of the industrial sector. But will 5G live up to expectations? What are the challenges and opportunities? And when can we expect to see widespread adoption of the technology?

What is it good for?
Industrial connectivity use cases for 5G range from smart factories with real-time process automation, to wide-area connected products with lifecycle management. To address these different connectivity requirements, businesses currently have to deploy multiple networks. LAN technologies such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Lora are used for in-building connectivity, while a combination of LAN and WAN solutions are used for connectivity between buildings and fibre, cellular and satellite handle remote assets.

Wired or wireless?
Existing wireless technologies do not provide the stringent low latency performance required for industrial automation, hence the heavy reliance on wired technologies for time-critical applications. But the deployment flexibility, reduced cost of manufacturing, installation and maintenance, and long-term reliability compared to wired connections, makes wireless technologies very attractive for industrial markets.

So far, cellular connectivity has typically been used only for those use cases that involve mobile assets, such as fleet management and asset tracking. Research by Analysis Mason suggests this is due to a combination of technical and commercial limitations of existing cellular networks. The current quality of connectivity is not sufficient for mission-critical applications, while the cost of the SIM business model presents a barrier to adoption and the public network model is not always considered suitable for an industrial setting.

Promises, promises
5G promises to address the performance-related issues as well as enabling entirely new use cases. The ability to connect and transfer data from up to 1 million sensors per km2, allowing continuous collection of data from vast numbers of sensors, will enable remote monitoring and predictive maintenance of manufacturing assets. Low latency together with edge cloud capabilities will underpin real-time processes such as collaborative robots for process automation, and high reliability will support mission-critical operations.
These can be delivered via private 5G networks, offering a level of control and security comparable to wired networks. However, the development of the 5G standard is not yet complete, with enhancements enabling ultra-reliable low latency communications (uRLCC) yet to arrive, as well as the upgrades to infrastructure needed to offer standalone 5G.

From power gen to remote surgery
The mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communication) and uRLLC capabilities sit at the core of 5G use cases in industry. Some industrial processes demand extremely tight KPIs for communications between controllers and devices. Use cases like power generation and distribution, process automation, motion control and communication between different controls rely heavily on low latency capability.

But there is a host of other use cases that need 5G. Take tactile communications such as remote surgery, health care monitoring, online gaming and synchronised remote music. Then there are autonomous vehicles, drones and robotic applications like sense-and-avoid, automated overtake, collaborative collision avoidance, HDVP (high-density vehicle platooning) and V2X (Vehicle to everything) communications. And high-density communications like smart wearables, connected stadiums and IoT are all other use cases that need 5G to deliver.

Payback
While the challenges are considerable, the potential added value of running industrial use cases on improved connectivity is substantial. A study by Barclays predicted a potential £2 billion increase in annual UK manufacturing revenues by 2025 as a result of 5G implementation. Another recent McKinsey study predicts improved connectivity in manufacturing and other advanced industries could result in $400-650 billion of global GDP impact by 2030.

But despite these predictions, progress towards implementing 5G has been hampered by several issues. With the technology still evolving and the value potential split across use cases in different domains, there are difficulties in justifying the business case and ROI. There are also cultural barriers, because successful 5G deployment in manufacturing relies on multiple players across an ecosystem, from manufacturing engineers to telecoms providers who need to engage and cooperate. There are also concerns around security and ownership of data, as well as compatibility and interoperability with existing systems.

First in the game

There has been a tug of war between mobile network operators across the world to be the first in launching 5G networks. Oreedo, the Qatari mobile operator, was announced as the first 5G network mainly using eMBB capabilities for FWA and demonstrated the use of low altitude drone with 5G. Telecom Italia announced San Marino to be the first European state to provide state wide 5G coverage, bringing together eMBB and mMTC capabilities in the mmWave band. Vodacom group launched Africa’s first 5G capability in the 3.5GHz band for FWA access. Interestingly the South Korean government forced the main three mobile operators -SK Telecom, KT and LG to launch 5G at the same time. China mobile, China Telecom, NTT Docomo, Kddi and Telstra in Asia, were also the first to do mass 5g trails in different cities. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-mobile in USA deployed 5G networks in different bands targeting varied market sectors. Vodafone , Telefonica, Orange and Three mobile have deployed their 5G networks in Europe and there is a lot of emphasis on private 5G networks. It’s a busy marketplace, but there is a difference between launch and full deployment.

Be in it to win it
5G has the potential to offer a strong foundation for IIoT technology and to play a key role in driving the future of Industry 4.0. In time, it may even become the standard wireless technology of choice for industrial connectivity. Although the technology is still evolving, for businesses to stay competitive it is essential that they explore the new possibilities presented by 5G. In addition, to steer future development and ensure that their specific industry needs are met, it is increasingly important that they engage and collaborate across the 5G value chain.

If you have any questions about how 5G can enhance your technology roadmap, please get in touch for an initial chat.

Why is 5G Technology key for Smarter Cities?

By: Shahzad Nadeem

Head of Smart Cities

19th June 2020

5 minute read

Home » Insights » Smart Cities

As cities become bigger and more densely populated, technology is seen as the key to growing our urban landscape successfully. Technologies can support our work, our living spaces, our supply chains and much more. In this blog, I will introduce 5G technology and briefly explain its applications for future smarter city living.

Background: why is 5G the real breakthrough?

Mobile communications technology has come a long way from the times of Analog tetra band and voice-based GSM cellular systems. Gradual advancements brought new dimensions to communication technologies. 2G, 3G and 4G focused on improvements in throughput to enable faster applications. However, the incremental advances in communication technologies along with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Edge Computing, Cloud Computing, Software-Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualisation have led to the development of super-fast, ultra-reliable, very high capacity and highly secure technology called 5G. This is the technology that ‘understands reality’ on the go. The opportunities and use cases of 5G are unlimited and we can only expect a better experience in all walks of life.

While the earlier technologies concentrated solely on improving speed, 5G caters for speed, low latency and high connection density. The three dimensions of 5G applications are eMBB – Enhanced Mobile Broadband, uRLLC – Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications and mMTC – Massive Machine Type Communications. These dimensions cater to applications that need very high bandwidth or are very sensitive to latency or need large numbers of low-speed connections.

5G will enable applications like fast wireless broadband, virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving vehicles, machine to machine communications, industrial automation, and many other smart city applications.

What is 5G?

5G is a cellular technology using the new kind of radio called 5G NR (New Radio). 5G NR brings together OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), advanced channel coding, massive MIMO and mm-Wave to deliver the advanced 5G features.

5G NR will be mainly used in three frequency bands:
• 700MHz will give marginal improvement on speeds of 250Mbps max compared to LTE
• 3.5GHz will give a max speed of 900Mbps
• 26/28GH called the mmWave band will get us up to 3Gbps.

As we go higher in frequency, the coverage area will decrease so much so that the mmWave band will hardly cover a mile in dense urban areas.

Which applications need 5G?

eMBB demands 20Gbps DL /10 Gbps UL, 4ms user plane latency and mobility of 500km/hour. It caters for applications like VR, AR, Virtual meetings, Fixed Wireless Access, UHD video and Video monitoring. These applications need high throughput to deliver the high-quality user experience. These applications are already in use but mainly use cable broadband rather than mobile broadband. 5G adds the wireless mobility factor that enables all of these applications on the go.

mMTC require 1 million devices / sq km and 10 years+ battery life. It enables applications like wearables, social networking, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Health care monitoring, Vehicle to infrastructure communications and specific industrial applications. These applications need long battery life and high connection density to cater to millions of devices in a small area.

uRLCC needs 1ms user plane latency, high availability and high security. It supports applications like remote surgery, public safety, vehicle to pedestrian applications and mission-critical specialised industrial applications. These applications demand quick decision time, precision and high levels of security.

Who is winning in 5G?

TIM Italia took the lead in deploying the first 5G network in Europe but several mobile operators across the world almost simultaneously claimed to be the first in 5G launch. Oreedo Qatar, STC Saudi Arabia and Etisalat UAE announced the deployments of their 5G network at around the same time. In Europe, Vodafone, Telefonica O2, EE and Three mobile have limited 5G deployments in place. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile seem to be leading the market in America. In the Asia Pacific, China mobile, NTT Docomo and Telstra announced their 5G launch at around the end of 2019. The race is on and the operators across the world are trying to take a lead in offering 5G services.

If you have any questions about how 5G can enhance your technology roadmap, please get in touch for an initial chat.

As cities become bigger and more densely populated, technology is seen as the key to growing our urban landscape successfully. Technologies can support our work, our living spaces, our supply chains and much more. In this blog, I will introduce 5G technology and briefly explain its applications for future smarter city living.

Background: why is 5G the real breakthrough?

Mobile communications technology has come a long way from the times of Analog tetra band and voice-based GSM cellular systems. Gradual advancements brought new dimensions to communication technologies. 2G, 3G and 4G focused on improvements in throughput to enable faster applications. However, the incremental advances in communication technologies along with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Edge Computing, Cloud Computing, Software-Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualisation have led to the development of super-fast, ultra-reliable, very high capacity and highly secure technology called 5G. This is the technology that ‘understands reality’ on the go. The opportunities and use cases of 5G are unlimited and we can only expect a better experience in all walks of life.

While the earlier technologies concentrated solely on improving speed, 5G caters for speed, low latency and high connection density. The three dimensions of 5G applications are eMBB – Enhanced Mobile Broadband, uRLLC – Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications and mMTC – Massive Machine Type Communications. These dimensions cater to applications that need very high bandwidth or are very sensitive to latency or need large numbers of low-speed connections.

 

5G will enable applications like fast wireless broadband, virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving vehicles, machine to machine communications, industrial automation, and many other smart city applications.

What is 5G?

5G is a cellular technology using the new kind of radio called 5G NR (New Radio). 5G NR brings together OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), advanced channel coding, massive MIMO and mm-Wave to deliver the advanced 5G features.

5G NR will be mainly used in three frequency bands:
• 700MHz will give marginal improvement on speeds of 250Mbps max compared to LTE
• 3.5GHz will give a max speed of 900Mbps
• 26/28GH called the mmWave band will get us up to 3Gbps.

As we go higher in frequency, the coverage area will decrease so much so that the mmWave band will hardly cover a mile in dense urban areas.

Which applications need 5G?

eMBB demands 20Gbps DL /10 Gbps UL, 4ms user plane latency and mobility of 500km/hour. It caters for applications like VR, AR, Virtual meetings, Fixed Wireless Access, UHD video and Video monitoring. These applications need high throughput to deliver the high quality user experience. These applications are already in use but mainly use cable broadband rather than mobile broadband. 5G adds the wireless mobility factor that enables all of these applications on the go.

mMTC require 1 million devices / sq km and 10 years+ battery life. It enables applications like wearables, social networking, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Health care monitoring, Vehicle to infrastructure communications and specific industrial applications. These applications need long battery life and high connection density to cater to millions of devices in a small area.

uRLCC needs 1ms user plane latency, high availability and high security. It supports applications like remote surgery, public safety, vehicle to pedestrian applications and mission-critical specialised industrial applications. These applications demand quick decision time, precision and high levels of security.

Who is winning in 5G?

TIM Italia took the lead in deploying the first 5G network in Europe but several mobile operators across the world almost simultaneously claimed to be the first in 5G launch. Oreedo Qatar, STC Saudi Arabia and Etisalat UAE announced the deployments of their 5G network at around the same time. In Europe, Vodafone, Telefonica O2, EE and Three mobile have limited 5G deployments in place. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile seem to be leading the market in America. In the Asia Pacific, China mobile, NTT Docomo and Telstra announced their 5G launch at around the end of 2019. The race is on and the operators across the world are trying to take a lead in offering 5G services.

If you have any questions about how 5G can enhance your technology roadmap, please get in touch for an initial chat.

How to Harvest Infinite Power!

Henry Wadsworth

By: Henry Wadsworth
Project Engineer

9th May 2019

6 minute read

Home » Insights » Smart Cities

Wouldn’t it be amazing if an electronic device could run forever, for free, on an unlimited supply of energy? No batteries to replace and no plug socket to be tethered to. This might seem like a flight of fancy, but with modern energy harvesting techniques, it is a much more realisable dream.

Energy harvesting is the capture and storage of energy from the environment which can be used to power an electronic device. This is not a new idea, we are all familiar with the idea of using solar panels to charge a battery, but there are many other energy sources to take advantage of such as kinetic, thermal, and electromagnetic energy. Kinetic energy such as that produced by wind can easily be harvested using a turbine, but even vibrations can be converted into a voltage using a piezo-electric transducer so any form of movement has the potential to power electronics. Thermal energy can be converted into electrical energy using a thermoelectric generator (TEG) which is able to produce energy from heat which would normally be lost to the environment. Electromagnetic energy is present all around us, for example, in the form of radio waves and microwaves which we rely on for wireless communications from WIFI to FM radio. In most circumstances this amount of energy is so small that it cannot readily be captured and stored, however, if a device is located within a reasonable distance of a powerful transmitter, it is possible to provide enough energy to keep a low-power device alive.

This is especially the case with modern integrated circuits designed for power harvesting which are enabling increasingly tiny amounts of energy to be gradually accumulated over time in a battery, or super-capacitor in order to power a low-power device almost indefinitely while the energy source is present. In many cases it is also possible to combine multiple energy harvesting sources, which can be useful in environments where the energy sources may be changing, such as if the device is moving through different environments. For example, solar could be combined with piezo-electric, so that the device can harvest sunlight when the sun is visible, and vibration energy when the device is being moved (perhaps the device is worn by a human, or transported on a vehicle).

Energy harvesting typically refers to small scale harvesting of energy as described above, however, larger power sources can also be harnessed. For example, the power flowing through a cable can be harnessed by placing a current transformer around the cable. We recently developed a system using this technology to supply energy in an underground environment where no other power supply was reliably available. This can be a useful way of retro-fitting a device where power cables already exist, but with no other convenient way to tap the energy from the cables. This method has the potential to supply large amounts of power to a device, depending on the amount of current flowing through the cables.

Energy harvesting is a particularly valuable technique for circumstances where it is not possible to carry out maintenance on a device to replace a battery. For example, the device may be inaccessible or just impractical and expensive to access if there are a large number of devices – which is likely to become an increasingly significant problem as inexpensive IOT devices are used for large monitoring networks.

Energy harvesting techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated which, coupled with a low power microprocessor makes it possible to power devices with energy sources which previously would be considered impractical.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if an electronic device could run forever, for free, on an unlimited supply of energy? No batteries to replace and no plug socket to be tethered to. This might seem like a flight of fancy, but with modern energy harvesting techniques, it is a much more realisable dream.

Energy harvesting is the capture and storage of energy from the environment which can be used to power an electronic device. This is not a new idea, we are all familiar with the idea of using solar panels to charge a battery, but there are many other energy sources to take advantage of such as kinetic, thermal, and electromagnetic energy. Kinetic energy such as that produced by wind can easily be harvested using a turbine, but even vibrations can be converted into a voltage using a piezo-electric transducer so any form of movement has the potential to power electronics. Thermal energy can be converted into electrical energy using a thermoelectric generator (TEG) which is able to produce energy from heat which would normally be lost to the environment. Electromagnetic energy is present all around us, for example, in the form of radio waves and microwaves which we rely on for wireless communications from WIFI to FM radio. In most circumstances this amount of energy is so small that it cannot readily be captured and stored, however, if a device is located within a reasonable distance of a powerful transmitter, it is possible to provide enough energy to keep a low-power device alive.

This is especially the case with modern integrated circuits designed for power harvesting which are enabling increasingly tiny amounts of energy to be gradually accumulated over time in a battery, or super-capacitor in order to power a low-power device almost indefinitely while the energy source is present. In many cases it is also possible to combine multiple energy harvesting sources, which can be useful in environments where the energy sources may be changing, such as if the device is moving through different environments. For example, solar could be combined with piezo-electric, so that the device can harvest sunlight when the sun is visible, and vibration energy when the device is being moved (perhaps the device is worn by a human, or transported on a vehicle).

Energy harvesting typically refers to small scale harvesting of energy as described above, however, larger power sources can also be harnessed. For example, the power flowing through a cable can be harnessed by placing a current transformer around the cable. We recently developed a system using this technology to supply energy in an underground environment where no other power supply was reliably available. This can be a useful way of retro-fitting a device where power cables already exist, but with no other convenient way to tap the energy from the cables. This method has the potential to supply large amounts of power to a device, depending on the amount of current flowing through the cables.

Energy harvesting is a particularly valuable technique for circumstances where it is not possible to carry out maintenance on a device to replace a battery. For example, the device may be inaccessible or just impractical and expensive to access if there are a large number of devices – which is likely to become an increasingly significant problem as inexpensive IOT devices are used for large monitoring networks.

Energy harvesting techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated which, coupled with a low power microprocessor makes it possible to power devices with energy sources which previously would be considered impractical.

Is the Technology Industry Doing Enough for Humanity?

Nicholas Koiza - Head of Business Development, Security

By: Nick Koiza
Head of Security Business

10th July 2018

Home » Insights » Smart Cities

This Thursday, I am co-chairing the Cambridge Wireless event: “Drones: The Good, the bad and the scary” as part of my work as a Security SIG champion.

This has prompted me to think about our evolving technology industry; as we are successfully maturing, are we giving enough back? Do we have a duty to use our technical expertise and knowledge and apply them for the betterment of humanity?

Commercial drone manufacturers DJI Technology conducted a survey in early 2017 looking at the number of lives saved by drones. The report states that at least 59 people have been rescued from life-threatening conditions around the Globe.

The clear conclusion is that drones are regularly saving lives around the world. This is occurring even though professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt UAS technology, and in many cases are relying on bystanders or volunteers to provide lifesaving assistance.”

Since then however, it is estimated that at least 133 people have been rescued. The numbers are rising, as the number of drones being utilised increases. In June this year, it was recorded that, globally, public safety drones saved four lives in one day alone – great news. The latest UK case was the rescue of a missing man who had become stuck in deep marshland in Norfolk. The man was stranded for 22 hours before being found by a police surveillance drone.

Life-changing technologies are being used but not in the life-changing sectors of Charity and Humanitarian Aid.

For years now companies, like Matternet, have been looking at drone and other technologies and how it can impact positively in the charity sector. It shouldn’t take much for engineering companies to assess their technology and work out how it can be applied for less profitable, but very worthy causes.

At Plextek we have a range of bespoke technology solutions that could be reapplied with some thought:

Last mile response: in a crisis, either environmental or war, drones can provide autonomous humanitarian aid into areas where it might be too dangerous for aid workers to enter.

Surveillance: For early identification/warning systems in environmental disaster areas. Or to enter the location of a disaster to assess the situation and safety for humans.

Identification: Possible human identification in the case of human trafficking, or animal ID and tracking for monitoring the numbers of endangered species.

First Response: First response units like lifeboats, mountain rescue or fire service can all use technology to enhance their search and rescue capabilities. The RNLI have already used drones to find people lost at sea but is the technology achievable at scale as the take up is slow across the board.

We need to make the latest engineering developments accessible for a wider range of applications. But what is the motivation to invest company time and money in applying technology to the charity/not-for-profit sector?

I guess the larger the company, the more shareholders there are to answer to. Ideally, the technology industry could pull together and work on a better future. It’s not going to be politicians. It’s up to us.

If you’d like to chat further, come and see me at the event, or get in touch, email: nicholas.koiza@plextek.com or call: +44 (0) 1799 533 266

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This Thursday, I am co-chairing the Cambridge Wireless event: “Drones: The Good, the bad and the scary” as part of my work as a Security SIG champion.

This has prompted me to think about our evolving technology industry; as we are successfully maturing, are we giving enough back? Do we have a duty to use our technical expertise and knowledge and apply them for the betterment of humanity?

Commercial drone manufacturers DJI Technology conducted a survey in early 2017 looking at the number of lives saved by drones. The report states that at least 59 people have been rescued from life-threatening conditions around the Globe.

The clear conclusion is that drones are regularly saving lives around the world. This is occurring even though professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt UAS technology, and in many cases are relying on bystanders or volunteers to provide lifesaving assistance.”

Since then however, it is estimated that at least 133 people have been rescued. The numbers are rising, as the number of drones being utilised increases. In June this year, it was recorded that, globally, public safety drones saved four lives in one day alone – great news. The latest UK case was the rescue of a missing man who had become stuck in deep marshland in Norfolk. The man was stranded for 22 hours before being found by a police surveillance drone.

Life-changing technologies are being used but not in the life-changing sectors of Charity and Humanitarian Aid.

For years now companies, like Matternet, have been looking at drone and other technologies and how it can impact positively in the charity sector. It shouldn’t take much for engineering companies to assess their technology and work out how it can be applied for less profitable, but very worthy causes.

At Plextek we have a range of bespoke technology solutions that could be reapplied with some thought:

Last mile response: in a crisis, either environmental or war, drones can provide autonomous humanitarian aid into areas where it might be too dangerous for aid workers to enter.

Surveillance: For early identification/warning systems in environmental disaster areas. Or to enter the location of a disaster to assess the situation and safety for humans.

Identification: Possible human identification in the case of human trafficking, or animal ID and tracking for monitoring the numbers of endangered species.

First Response: First response units like lifeboats, mountain rescue or fire service can all use technology to enhance their search and rescue capabilities. The RNLI have already used drones to find people lost at sea but is the technology achievable at scale as the take up is slow across the board.

We need to make the latest engineering developments accessible for a wider range of applications. But what is the motivation to invest company time and money in applying technology to the charity/not-for-profit sector?

I guess the larger the company, the more shareholders there are to answer to. Ideally, the technology industry could pull together and work on a better future. It’s not going to be politicians. It’s up to us.

If you’d like to chat further, come and see me at the event, or get in touch, email: nicholas.koiza@plextek.com or call: +44 (0) 1799 533 266

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