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Tim Kannegieter

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Posts posted by Tim Kannegieter

  1. Two-way communication in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) is automatically better than one-way communication, surely? Not necessarily, according to the presenter of our next webinar on remote sensing. In fact, there are cases where one way sensing is a far superior approach, such as most metering applications.

    In preparing for this webinar I met with Mark Halliwell, Business Development Manager at Taggle Systems. In discussing Taggle’s approach to IoT, their decision to focus on one way sensing really stood out.

    MRC-1_V100_2.jpg.68941049d26a1f97f31d1f7fafcbc300.jpgThe reasoning is pretty simple. There are many applications where you simply don’t need two way communication and having it introduces more complications than any benefits it might bring. For example security is much simpler with one way communication as there is no way an external attack can be launched on a device via the network. Secondly, power consumption is much less, as the device does not have to be constantly listening out for messages.

     There are many other nuances in the one-way vs two-way debate, which Mark will address in the webinar. But one other feature of the Taggle system really stood out. Unlike most other LPWAN systems out there, the entire technology has was developed in house, here in Australia.  This is not surprising when you look at the pedigree of the founders, which includes the developers of the world’s first 5GHz WiFi integrated circuits.


    Image: Taggle's MRC-1 transmitter designed for use with

    the most common water meter in use, the Elster V100. Curtesy Taggle

    One thing for sure is that competition in the automatic meter reading industry is rapidly heating up, with just about every IoT vendor and LPWAN consultant pitching to gain market share. This is particularly so in the water industry which is opening up rapidly with utilities across the country and globally rushing to capture the benefits of IoT, which include everything from cost reductions in meter reading to deferment of capital intensive investments in upgrading water infrastructure.

    With such competition, it’s no longer enough to simply offer IoT solutions. They need to be superior to other IoT solutions and this is where Taggles believe it has an advantage. By developing the technology in-house, from the chip level up and focusing on the one-way approach, it is able to optimize the solution at all levels.

    Taggle has made a big bet on the question of one way versus two way communication and it appears to be paying off. Mark claims they have the largest IoT deployment in Australia, currently taking over 3 million water meter readings per day.

    The company has also embraced the growing “as a Service” movement, by owning and maintaining its own LPWAN network so the customer only pays for the data and associated services rather than owning its own communication infrastructure. Software packages are provided that process the data for reporting and visualization purposes, including apps for end users.

    A great case study on a Taggle deployment at Mackay Regional Council (MRC) was reported in Utility Magazine, which featured some impressive results, way before the term IoT became trendy. In 2016, a demand management campaign coupled with the Taggle system saw individual consumer water consumption in Mackay reduce from 240L/d to 210L/d, contributing to the estimated deferment of a new water treatment plant from 2020 to 2032 and helping hold price increases to zero. In that same year, around 1500 lead notifications were sent to customers and reducing the average duration of a leak from 150 days to 60 days.


    Of course there are many other applications of IoT technology in the water industry, such as monitoring and reducing excessive pipe pressure, reducing pumping costs, preventing sewer overflows, identifying infiltration of the system . I wrote up a good case study earlier on what South East Water in Victoria is doing and this this explores some of these areas in more detail.

  2. Next Tuesday 17 April, Umesh Bhutoria from EnergyTech Ventures will be delivering a webinar titled The Data Indigestion Crisis: New approaches to Energy Analytics. The successful startup from India is in the process of establishing its business in Australia, participating in a bootcamp program being run by Energy Australia. He company has developed an Insights as a Service business around energy analytics. 

    I had coffee with Umesh to go over what he will present and was interested to find he is primarily targeting brownfield installations. When I questioned this strategy, he pointed out that the vast majority of installed systems managing energy consumption are largely underutilized, operating as alarm systems rather than being used to optimise energy efficiency. 

    Umesh pointed to a number of issues such as the difficulty of having multiple data sources and a skill gap in knowing what to do with the data even if they had it. The main problem he says, is that companies often don't know what the actually want from their systems. He related one case where he won a contract over a large multi-national vendor because he told the client he didn't want their business if they couldn't see the difference in his approach. This encouraged the client to go back and work out their real needs.

    In this webinar, Umesh will begin with an introduction to Energy Analytics, outline the different approaches and then look at a case study of of one of the worlds largest Terry Towel manufacturing sites.


  3. I’ve always been a bit confused about what a smart city actually is. When you talk to people in the field, you normally get vague answers about how the Internet of Things is going to transform cities. The basic idea is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the way we manage our community assets and services. Using the Internet of Things (IoT) we collect more data and analyze it to make smarter operational and strategic decisions. When pressed for examples, smart city enthusiasts usually point to specific point solutions around parking, water meters, energy monitoring, garbage bins and the like. But individually none of these make an entire city smart, right?

    5ab99d527b0da_Buildings50.thumb.jpg.411f9a3d4077e96e980bc606fc6cf7ea.jpgFor a while, I thought that smart cities must have something to do with interconnecting this large variety of point solutions, to get synergistic benefits through the likes of big data analytics and machine learning. However, the engineer in me knows just how complex such an approach is. It’s a great aspiration, and I’m all for it, but we are a long, long way from that.

    So it was refreshing to talk to Thinxtra’s VP Ecosystems & Marketing Renald Gallis about their Smart Council Program which recently gained a $10 million boost in funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to help roll out the Sigfox low power wide area network technology to councils across Australia. He confirmed for me that most smart cities are currently limited to point solutions. Thinxtra has partnered with a number of organisations to help them offer a variety of solutions for everything from manhole monitoring to prevent overflow, through to rodent infestation control.

    What I gained from that conversation is a realization that smart cities ARE about interconnectedness – but it’s more to do with people than technology. According to Renald, the key to smart cities and any other industry vertical, is the quality of the business relationships that sit behind the IoT solutions.

    When Thinxtra evaluates potential companies to bring their solutions into the Sigfox network, they look first to access the maturity of their thinking about IoT. It’s not enough to have a smart technology solution, it must also be at a price point that makes it viable and it must also be scalable.

    The company delivering the IoT solution must understand not just the technologies but the organisational systems required to sustain them in the field. It’s one thing to produce a few hundred devices. It’s another to produce tens of thousands devices and support them nationally or globally. Having confidence in the solution is a key part of what Renald calls "proof of value" which goes beyond a simple business case. He will be delivering a webinar on proof of value to this community on 3 April. 

    Renald says there are a lot of “digital tourists” – individuals or companies that have an idea and dabble in the IoT space. However, they don’t really know what they want or fully understand the complex landscape of IoT solution providers. They ending up wasting a lot of time for everyone involved.

    So what makes a smart city is smart relationships between organisations that really “get” IoT.

    Smart relationships start with the quality of the organisations involved. Providers need to have all the backend processes to support the systems in the field. This will include partnering with reliable providers of connectivity, middleware and cloud systems. Because the ability to scale is important, the provider in the relationship should ideally be a big player in the market – nationally or globally. According to Gallis, start-ups need to be realistic about their ability to take market share and align themselves to the right global player as quickly as possible in the evolution5ab99ca6e792b_IoTrelationships.JPG.9be13d5900c7e0eb975c6bb1beeaaa27.JPG of their product.

    Adopters of IoT solutions also need to have the right organisational systems in place to strategically address the way IoT will positively disrupt their business models and processes. Ideally, they will have an innovation department of some sort in place to both assess the technology and to shepherd solutions through to implementation.

    Smart relationships also relate to how city authorises encourage multiple point solutions to work together. Generally speaking the point solutions will be using the same kinds of technologies. Ideally, these technologies would be from the same providers, using the same platforms. However, in a competitive world, this is wishful thinking, especially for large cities. At this stage concepts like open data and an IoT friendly regulatory environment come into play and city authorities do need to play their role in facilitating smart relationship.

    So what IS a smart city? I’m thinking it is a vibrant ecosystem of technology providers and adopters across the city, working together to improve macro outcomes like livability, prosperity and sustainability. IoT sits at the heart of that, connecting technologies and organisations. It plays a role in brokering relationships between people from all fields and disciplines to work together in smart ways. As Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message” and today IoT is the medium.


    Dr Tim Kannegieter is the facilitator of Engineers Australia Applied IoT Engineering Community

  4. The internet of things (IoT) is complex. Examined at an industry or national level, there are a huge number of variables and players, that it’s hard to even visualise how all the components will ever work together to realise the potential. However, we all have a vested interest in ensuring the IoT industry blossoms to reach its full potential.

    In the IoT Engineering Community, we have previously spoken about the technical skills required to develop the IoT engineering workplace. A key point identified is that it practically impossible for anyone one individual to become expert in all areas relating to IoT. A rule of thumb is that it take 10 years to become truly expert in a field. Well, IoT has dozens of discreet fields of equal complexity. To complicate matters further, the engineering of an IoT system is just one part of the picture.

    In a webinar on Tuesday 20 March titled Flattening the IoT Learning Curve, Frank Zeichner sets out the broader context of IoT learning.  Learning at multiple levels, from individuals through companies to government. It’s all interconnected and none of these levels will get the full benefits without the other.

    He argues that the most valuable learning is that which comes at the edges of three broad domains relating to engineering, business and industry domains. Its only when an engineer truly understands the business imperative or vice versa for the C-suite, that we begin to develop skills that will truly make a difference.

    Similarly, both the business and engineering skill must be applied in a way that will work for that particular industry. The application of IoT is different in a variety of industries and while the technology may be the same, unless you understand all those complex variables in context of application your project will be on risky ground. However, the potential is there. The Food Agility CRC, which Frank discusses in his presentation, is aiming to shift the food sector from a $46 billion to a $100 billion industry by exploiting the potential of digital transformation, primarily though IoT.

    The IoT Alliance Australia, of which Zeichner is the CEO, has an Education and Skills Workgroup which is creating an education Framework to “provide a methodology for scoping, developing, and tracking the type of education engagement required to expand the IoT knowledge, skills and capability development delivered by education providers and professional bodies that intersect the IoT marketplace”.

    Learning needs to take place at the individual, organisational, industry and national levels. Unless we get practical progress in learning how to successfully exploit the potential of IoT at all these levels, we run the risk of a major lost opportunity as other nations aggressively push a coordinated agenda.  

  5. Great to hear this update and cant wait to hear about your four new IoT solutions. 

    Yes, agriculture does seem to be a sector that does seem to be targetted by a disproportionate number of IoT ventures, not just start ups but the big global players going into partnerships with governments, universities and the like.

    Interestingly, I was interviewing Taggle this week in preparation for an upcoming webinar from them and I discovered they started life by targeting tags for cattle. However, they exited that area early because they found that farmers were a hard bunch to get money out of! They pivoted to water meters and now dominate the IoT space for that sector.

    All the best for 2018 Andrew!


  6. Why would you buy a building management system at a huge upfront cost when you can get one for free, in return for monthly service fees that actually drive down the total cost of ownership? Following is a preview of a webinar on building management systems being run by this community on 6 March. I would be interested in your comments and questions we might ask of the presenter.

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is disrupting virtually all industries but it is particularly effective in challenging conventional approaches to control systems. Building Management Systems (BMS) are archetypal control systems with multiple sensors driving actuators to optimally maintain a comfortable working environment. Historically, large commercial and industrial projects have looked to proprietary systems from large vendors, partly because they were initially the only options on the table, and perhaps with a bit of the “if you buy IBM you won’t get sacked mentality”.

    However, the IoT is changing all the assumptions which underpinned previous procurement decision making and in particular it is opening up the market to competition from a wide range of start-ups. These start-ups aim to not just innovate the technology, but challenge the entire business model.

    The first impact of IoT on the BMS industry has been the dramatic plunge in the cost in sensing, communication and installation. Traditional BMS systems typically have a price tag in the order of AU$5000 per sensor point plus ongoing maintenance, and budgets typically allowed for a small number of devices. One consequence is that a large percentage of BMS systems are just used for alarms.

    Moving away from proprietary systems, that price point is now closer the $150 mark per month including maintenance, allowing thousands of sensors to be deployed for the same price.  This opens the possibility of not just a finer level of control in more locations but an increased ability to diagnose system wide issues.

    In addition, the advent of new communication technologies in the form of Low Power Wide Area Networks is facilitating cheap secure communication without the need for wiring. The cost of data wiring is prohibitively expensive and wireless connection with low power devices that can run on a battery for years has been a game changer. There are other benefits as well, including LPWAN’s superior performance in building penetration, inbuilt security protocols and much longer battery life.

    Large BMS vendors have been responding to the challenge with their own versions of the “Industrial Internet of Things”, opening up their devices to be more interoperable with other systems and trading off their brand recognition to maintain market share. However, the procurement process remains the same with all the associated issues around the lowest cost tendering process and the adversarial relationships arising from dealing with faults during the Defects Liability Period.

    With the coming of IoT and all the associated start-ups, the competitive landscape has been radically altered. These challengers are now looking to escalate the challenge by upending the entire business model of the BMS industry – by doing away with set price contracts and delivering BMS as a service.

    One such company is Blue IoT, a Melbourne-based company that is now offering building management systems as a service, or more precisely, Software Data Analytics as a service. Blue IoT will be delivering a webinar to the Engineers Australia Applied IoT Engineering Community on 6 March 2018.

    Under this startup’s new business model, the client pays no upfront fee for the sensors or whatever associated building services such as HVAC that are included as part of the contract (depending if it is a new install or a refurbishment). Rather, the costs are absorbed in monthly service fees that include all maintenance and optimisation of the system. Importantly the service includes a human layer where data coming back from the system is analysed by electrical, mechanical and controls engineers who specialise in determining root causes of issues and fixing the problem the first time.

    The crux of this new business model is a guarantee that the system will deliver specified savings (if the project is a refurbishment) or function at an agreed performance level. If the system does not there are associated penalties for the service provider. Another big change is that the client owns the data and, if it serves out the agreed contract span, it also take ownership of the sensor and actuator hardware which is all non-proprietary. This allows the owner to change service providers if they wish, but of course the service provider will be doing their level best to keep their business.

    At the heart of this model is a move away from the adversarial relationships that have plagued the building industry. In an upcoming webinar (see below), Blue IoT founder Bob Sharon will explain how tenders are typically awarded on the basis of lowest price there is typically no margin for error – either in the delivery of the product or in the original specification. What results in buck passing from the lead contractor right down to the smallest suppliers and back to the client if they dare to ask for the smallest change to the original spec. With a service model, the building services integrator is completely incentivised to deal with all the problems and get the system performing at the highest level.

    There are a number of beneficial side effects arising from this change in responsibility for system performance. Typically, facility managers would see alerts relating to a particular part of the system, say a pump, and call the relevant contractor to fix it. However, the root cause of the problem may be elsewhere in the system and facilities mangers are not typically experts in diagnosing problems in what are increasingly complicated systems.

    However, service providers have the benefit of being able to collate data across the hundreds or thousands of different building management systems and sensors they manage and develop expertise not only in diagnosis but in preventative maintenance. A key game changer in service based IoT solutions is that all data is typically uploaded to the cloud where big data analytics can be usefully deployed to pro-actively monitor and optimise smart buildings and cities. Over time, machine learning will play an increasing a role in analytics, delivering a step change in performance. It is these kinds of IoT technologies that give service providers the confidence to offer performance guarantees.

    This paradigm shift of turning products into a service is at the heart of the IoT revolution. We see it over and over again in the most successful IoT startups. Swimming pool filtration systems are now being delivered free in return for a service contract guaranteeing crystal clear water quality. Garbage bins can be delivered free to Councils in return for a service contract guaranteeing they will be emptied just before they reach capacity. Success is rooted not just in technological innovation but in the reimagining of business models.

    Dr Tim Kannegieter is the Knowledge Manager at Engineers Australia charged with sharing knowledge around emerging technologies. 

  7. Type your questions for today's webinar in the comments to this post. 

    The webinar is on "The Internet of Incarceration" by Dan Hunter. During the webinar, you might like to comment on any of the presenter's points, or share your own experiences managing IoT Projects.

  8. 18 Oct "Apple and GE today announced a partnership to deliver powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial Internet of Things (IoT) platform, to iPhone and iPad. The two companies unveiled a new Predix software development kit (SDK) for iOS, which gives developers the tools to make their own powerful industrial IoT apps."

    More info https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/10/apple-and-ge-partner-to-bring-predix-industrial-apps-to-iphone-and-ipad/

    • Like 1

  9. Yes, agree with pretty much all that. I would tend not to be too dismissive of the value of learning the principles of coding. At my daughter's age, the concepts of IF/THEN constructs and all the other coding principles are all very new and worthwhile I think. And primarily at this stage, I think my aim is just to get her enthusiastic about learning, so the scratch level programs have been great and she still has some way to run with it. However, I take your point that she will pretty quickly run out of runway to learn with just coding which is why I am already thinking about what next. 

    Your point about teachers asking what will you drop is very valid. They don't teach this stuff in normal school time for that very reason. However, as a parent I have oodles of after school time and holidays to fill which I would like to be as enriching as possible, hence my interest in this. I'm not actually particularly focused on coding or even STEM. However, I did attend a DATA 61 event where one of the keynote speakers was 9 years old and was a little blown away by the potential of young people to create a future using data. As you say, its what you do with the data rather than coding as a skill that will make the difference. However, I think understanding how to manipulate data via coding will be \ a modern day skill that should sit alongside other skills like literacy and mathematics. But how to develop it over time in a reasonable fashion?

    I put up a proposal in EA about a year ago to launch a STEM Outreach Community, whereby deliverers of STEM education services such as yourself could collaborate and learn from each other. It hasn't got traction yet but I remain hopeful. 



    • Like 1

  10. Hi Heath,

    Just followed up on your link. Well done you! MiniSparx sounds like a great initiative. Newcastle based only?

    Re Scratch, I don't think there is any issue with Scratch and the demise of the industry in the article you linked sounds more like a law of supply and demand issue. 

    My 6.5yr daughter has done four days now on Scratch and has the basic concepts mastered. She still struggles with slight more complicated things. The main point is that she is using a computer screen to create things rather than just mindlessly watch YouTube videos. 

    What it has make me think about is progression. By the time she is 9 or 10 she will be beyond basic programming stuff. What would be good is a pathway to progress kids through ever more challenging things such as robots and even the IoT stuff Chi Bihn Le talked about. Ideally this would extend over their entire schooling. I was actually imagining her graduating from highschool with a fully fledged ICT degree. Its not has crazy as it sounds because I'm continually amazed at my daughter's ability to absorb complex ideas and use the tools to create quite sophisticated aps and she is not yet seven. She is not particularly bright either. She just has what every young child has when the learning is fun.

    It also has to be affordable. I pay about $40 a day for normal school holiday activities at the local school after ours care. Admittedly that is cheap but I pay about $100 per day for the code camp stuff, so the temptation to leave her in there is great. 

  11. Can you easily instrument existing mechanical meters? What are the challenges involved?

    Answer transcribed from webinar response by Rian Sullings (WaterGroup P/L):

    In Australia there are roughly 24 million water meters. Coincidentally, a similar number to the population, so most houses have a couple of people in them, but then if you consider all the other buildings and infrastructure, it adds up to a similar number. The vast majority of those meters are mechanical. They have moving parts. They're similar to a clock. They've got a register (like a car odometer). The meters themselves are designed to last for 10 or 15 years in situ. They wear out over time. They become less accurate.

    It is possible to replace an entire water meter with a smart-enabled meter, but it's also possible to retrofit devices on to those mechanical meters to make use of the physical asset that's already sitting there and will likely sit there for years to come. Most of the mechanical meters that have been deployed in Australia for the past decade or two have a provision for a data output. I think the thinking was that, "We don't quite have the technology yet, but we know we will in the future, so let's put data outputs on all the mechanical meters."

    The most common way of extracting the data is by attaching a sensor into the meter. If you imagine the register, it's a number of dials and they rotate as the water flows through. On some of those dials there is a magnet and that magnet makes revolutions with the dials or gears. For example, every 10 litres that passes through the meter, a dial might make one full revolution, so then you can use a reed switch or a hall effect sensor to detect when the magnet is close to or further away from the sensor. Then you can count how many times the water meters turns over time. You can use data logging to timestamp that.

  12. At 12pm 10 October 2017, this community hosted a webinar will be held on Smart Metering for Water with the IoT. In the comments on this post are some of the questions asked by the audience. Feel free to respond to the questions directly. 

    To post a question/comment you need to:

    • (register and) logon to this community site in the top right hand corner
    • Navigate to Forums > IoT Engineering and locate the post with name of the webinar


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