Integrated ICT provider Vox has vowed to ramp up Internet of Things (IoT) related solutions to consumers before the end of the year, having launched several new products this week.
“When coupled with advanced analytics, big data collection will bring new security options including asset and animal tracking to South African customers.
“As user requirements expand, tamper and tracking, asset, animal, utility and security devices are being deployed pervasively on movable assets like vehicles or trailers, on animals, and in less accessible places,” Vox said in a statement on Wednesday.
End users want to know much more than just location, with proactive notifications of out of the ordinary behaviour and activity allowing them to identify and track trends, among other features, said chief executive, Jacques du Toit.
Vox has positioned itself as a network neutral platform provider and will support NB-IOT, LTE-M1, LoRa and Sigfox technologies. “This is going to be like Beta vs VHS,” du Toit said.
Vox has initially partnered with Sqwidnet, the provider of Sigfox technology in South Africa.
Low Powered WAN technology (Sigfox & LoRA) works well in situations where devices need to send small amounts of data over a wide area while maintaining battery life over many years, explained du Toit.
This distinguishes LPWAN from other wireless network protocols like Cellular with regards to bandwidth and range capability.
“The Sigfox network is unique in that towers can transmit information over long distances – up to 90 kilometres or more in the regions from a single base station with very low emissions and a small visual impact,” he said.
In addition to steadily declining IoT device prices over the past few years, using an IoT network will help organisations to cut down on the operational costs of using traditional GSM networks, including SIM fees, network connection fees, and data costs, Vox said.
“Automated workflows will be a key differentiator for Vox – given the number of connected devices anticipated it will be impossible for humans to make action based decisions. We will be focussing on automation, starting off with basic workflows and advancing into AI and Machine Learning,” said du Toit.
Enabling the connected farmer
Aimed at small, medium and large-scale farmers, Vox said it currently uses IoT to help with animal management, reproductive control, fattening management, and in-heat and calving detection.
The smart collars used have multiple sensors, are lightweight and easy to use, and improve on previous solutions with network coverage and extended battery life, it said.
In this scenario, each animal is fitted with a IoT collar to monitor its location and condition, with the data being transmitted securely to the Vox cloud, and resulting analytics collected, interpreted and delivered back to web portals or smartphone applications.
This allows farmers to set geofencing boundaries, monitor and track their animals and get real-time notifications for theft and other behavioural events.
On the back end, all information collected is securely sent to a multi-platform system in the cloud, which analyses data and displays it in a user-friendly application that allows farmers to set geofencing boundaries, monitor and track their animals and get real-time notifications for theft and other abnormal events.
“Think of it as an IoT eco-system which extends to security, humidity and moisture as well as tracking.
“Collectively, this provides farmers with a comprehensive management tool to increase productivity, reduce costs and animal losses, and improve operations efficiency by cutting down on the paperwork,” du Toit said.
The chief executive said that the group would be expanding its range of solutions as the year progresses, targeting fibre-to-the-home customers before the end of the year.