Microgrids Gaining Mainstream Traction

While “going off the grid” is not a new term, microgrids are finding new footholds in a changing utilities industry. Recently, more and more cities and states are turning to microgrids not only as highly effective ways of increasing energy resiliency, but also as pragmatic and cost effective strategies for shifting population densities and energy consumption behaviors. Below, we’ve gather some of the top recent headlines on the changing microgrid landscape. Microgrids In New Applications Microgrids have long been viewed as an excellent tactic for supplying power to rural areas and island communities. However, recent data shows that microgrids may be expanding. This article from the Motley Fool, notes that governments and correctional facilities are turning to micrograms as viable options for emergency backup power. Another area where microgrids are seeing growth is in use for growing suburbs and rural areas. In the past, power companies has to build costly new transmission lines to service growing population areas, lines which may only be used during peak demand for a few hours a year. By leveraging microgrids, energy companies can build cost effective solutions for dealing with rare power consumption spikes. Communities Turn to Microgrids for Energy A recent article from Electric Light & Power notes that there are developing plans to build 13 microgrids across the state of New Jersey to increase the areas energy resiliency and better prepare the state for emergency situations. The effort, spearheaded by New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Richard S. Mroz, has been prioritized in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, during which many areas were left without electricity and running water for weeks on end. One of the proposed microgrids in downtown Trenton would connect several important government buildings, helping keep the cities most essential resources up and running even during emergency situations. Building a Carbon Free City In the stretch of land between the city of Denver and its airport, a new town is being built that will rely solely on a microgrid for power — and it will be completely carbon free. The city, called Peña Station Next, will rely primarily on solar energy and is receiving large financial support from the city of Denver. As reported in this article from The Scientific American, the city will rely “mainly on solar energy, a king-sized lithium-ion battery and various energy efficiency schemes” for its power. Will Battery Tech Change Microgrid Strategies? Batteries are getting bigger — so what does that mean for microgrids? As noted in this article from Teslarati.com, Neoen and Tesla recently announced the creation of a 100MW/129MWh battery adjacent to the Hornsdale wind-farm in South Australia. One of the claims Tesla had in building the battery is that the company could make money by providing off-the-grid backup power. According to the article, however, this might not be so simple. Bruce Miller, a principal consultant for Advisian, says the 80-minute discharge time for Tesla’s system isn’t in line with 10-megawatt- and 20-megawatt-hour systems that could produce $2.1 million a year from supplying backup energy. Brooklyn is On-Board with Microgrids Brooklyn, the dense suburb of New York City, is one of a growing list of major population centers to explore microgrids. As noted in this article from Green Biz, Brooklyn is exploring a strategy where a virtual web of buildings whose owners can buy and sell power to each other using blockchain technology to manage the transactions. Currently, the program has hundreds of participants signed up, and users will ultimately be able to control their participation through the use of an app.   With more governments and power companies exploring the promise of microgrids, it may only be a matter of time before a microgrid is a viable primary or emergency energy option for many. Where do you see microgrids growing next?

Happy Independence Day!

As we prepare for fireworks, barbeques and all of the excitement that comes along with tomorrow’s holiday, we’d also like to recognize what Independence Day means to the U.S. By definition it’s the celebration of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our incredible country as an independent nation. On this holiday, we’re also reminded that millions of people have sacrificed (and continue to sacrifice) in order for us to gain and retain our freedoms and liberties. As a company that has had the honor of working in the military and defense industry for more than two decades, we are humbled and grateful to all of the men and women in the armed forces.   From the bottom of our hearts, with respect and admiration, we’d like to thank all of brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for this great country — including those who are currently serving today.   FreeWave and the Military The government and defense industries have been woven into FreeWave’s story from early on. As previously noted, we have worked in the defense markets for more than two decades providing wireless communication solutions – including command and control (C2) links for unmanned systems. Our embedded communication solutions for drones and robotics have logged more than 2.5 million flight hours without a single link failure. As the number of unmanned systems for air, land and water increases, it is imperative for manufacturers and operators to use rugged, reliable and secure C2 solutions with high-speed data transmission. We are dedicated to continuing to provide robust and trusted solutions. Not only do we focus on providing a great technology, but a solution that can be trusted to operate when human lives are at stake. We hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!

Smart Border Protection

Plans for “The Wall” at the U.S./Mexico border appear to be driving forward. Recent reports indicate that building the border protection wall could cost upwards of $22 Billion. However, news coverage suggests that there is a more cost-effective solution in using drones to create a ‘virtual wall.’ Time will tell whether the current administration will consider replacing all or parts of the physical wall with modern drone technology to intelligently monitor rural and desolate parts of the border. In fact, some are reporting that it’s a possibility. On the other hand, several companies have already been selected to build prototypes of the border wall. Perhaps the final solution will be some combination of both, as The Department of Homeland is actively seeking border monitoring solutions in drones for Border Patrol. Drones at the Border In 2014, it was reported that Predator drones were patrolling nearly half the U.S./Mexico border.  These drones were used to monitor rural areas for illegal immigrants, human traffickers and drug cartels – covering parts of the border where there are no US Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) agents, camera towers, ground sensors or fences. The Predator drones used for these purposes were designed for the battlefield, and unfortunately a report from December 2014 found that they did not achieve the intended results. Today, The Department of Homeland Security is looking to use smaller drones with facial recognition as part of its Silicon Valley Innovation Program – a program created to, “cultivate relationships with technology innovators, particularly non-traditional performers, from small start-ups to large companies, investors, incubators, and accelerators.” A contractor solicitation notice that was issued last summer (and closed on April 27, 2017) by DHS requested specific requirements for these border patrol drones. According to NBC News, the Department of Homeland Security was “flooded with bids” for these smaller drones. Here’s a small sampling of what the solicitation was requesting (see the full solicitation for the detailed list of requirements): Functional across a variety of weather conditions and times of day Ability to detect the following items of interest within required detection range: humans traveling on foot (alone and in groups), humans traveling on animals (e.g., horseback), and moving ground conveyances (e.g., All Terrain Vehicles, motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks Easy to navigate and operate Sophisticated sensors, with advanced capabilities – such as infrared and facial recognition capabilities sUAS capabilities (sUAS typically applies to smaller consumer-grade drones under 55 pounds) Hypothetical natural language voice command system While the request includes a broad range of desired capabilities, an article in The Verge suggested that, “the greatest challenge facing contractors is how to stream data from the devices, since much of the border lacks conventional cellular service.” Connecting Where Cellular Can’t From a technology standpoint, consumer-grade drones for border patrol are going to need secure, reliable and rugged command-and-control (C2) links. There are a number of secure wireless data communications solutions available that enable reliable C2 links.  These solutions have been trusted by the government and defense industry for years, offering secure, reliable links with more than 60 miles Line of Site (LOS). There are C2 solutions providers that have operated in unmanned systems for millions of flight hours in some of the harshest weather conditions without a single broken communication link. Drone manufacturers also should consider these types of C2 solutions because they offer secure wireless data communication by leveraging data encryption capabilities that adhere to FIPS and AES standards. Some non-cellular solutions are also proven to be reliable and secure in nature which further boosts the overall data security scheme. Frequency-hopping techniques, for example, leverage coordinated, rapid changes in radio frequencies that “hop” in the radio spectrum, evading detection and the potential of interference. Some wireless products also deliver multiple user-defined cryptography keys (as many as 32 user-defined keys in some cases), providing a more robust link security by allowing the automatic and frequent changing of cryptographic keys. As drones are deployed more frequently for mission critical operations at our borders, it will be imperative to leverage secure C2 links that can support modern data needs in real-time while keeping the links secure. With the comfort of these powerful C2 links, Border Patrol agents can effectively monitor, assess and act upon threats in the most efficient manner possible.  

Connected Traffic Management Systems

Connected traffic systems are the next push in our growing digital world. There is a massive opportunity to leverage modern technology for a variety of traffic applications. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to advancements within many municipalities to optimize public transit, traffic management and public safety. As a result, cities around the country are looking to technology and connected devices to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow. Connected Traffic Systems Technology U.S. Commuters spend 14.5 million hours stuck in traffic every day. The Urban Mobility Scorecard from 2015 reported that commuters generally needed to allow 48 minutes for a trip that would take 20 without traffic. The report predicted that conditions would continue to worsen if dedicated programs, policies and projects are not expanded. From a public transportation perspective, many cities are dealing with outdated infrastructure that can lead to severe delays and transportation outages. Voters in San Francisco, for example, recently approved a measure for a $3.5 billion regional bond to update its aging BART transportation system. In addition to investing in and fixing ageing infrastructure, U.S. cities also aim to become smarter and prepare for the future by leveraging technology. The U.S. Department of transportation has recently offered nearly $65 million in grants to cities around the country that are working on advanced transportation initiatives. The grants support a number of projects including traffic signal technology to reduce congestion at street lights, transit trip planning technology and applications, ride-sharing services, and more. While the cities work on the ground, there are also efforts to improve air traffic congestion. AT&T recently announced that it is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop a traffic management system for drones. Sensor-2-Server for Traffic Management Sensor-2-Server (S2S) solutions offer reliable connectivity options for municipalities looking to fix traffic flow issues and create smoother traffic management. By leveraging S2S operations, the city or municipality can enable intelligent communications at the edge of the communication network, from the sensor at the traffic light back to a specific server, enabling advanced data analytics. Cities with outdated communication infrastructures, such as a T1 phone line for traffic control systems, can easily update their network with wireless S2S solutions. S2S technologies are created to perform in extreme weather, offering a real-time monitoring solution around the clock. The cost of operations is significantly reduced with S2S solutions and they deliver the connectivity needed for modern IoT networks. Some S2S solutions are equipped with the ability to introduce custom, third-party applications at the edge, which can help reduce costs and enable new automation capabilities. As cities throughout the U.S. embrace IoT and work to become Smart Cities, traffic management is a major initiative. While cities work to improve aging infrastructure, they can help improve traffic congestion by incorporating a traffic management system that can leverage data from an S2S network to optimize traffic flow.

IoT Top News: Fog Computing Influences Apps

This week BI Intelligence revealed the key benefits of fog computing along with a list of industries adapting this methodology. It is estimated that 5.6 billion IoT devices owned by enterprise and government will soon use fog computing for gathering and processing data. Let’s dive into some recent news from the past week and start by taking a closer look at the latest development in fog (edge or access layer) computing. Fog Computing in the IoT Forecasts industries and adoption benefits Edge or fog computing will become a priority as enterprise deals with the exploding amount of data waiting to be collected, sorted and processed. “The ‘Internet of Everything’ — all of the people and things connected to the internet — will generate 507.5 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2019, according to Cisco.   A deeper dive into this week’s top news show us a few IoT applications ready to change our world, from farmer robots to drones reconstructing car crashes. Robots are coming to a farm near you The cost of adding robots to agriculture still remains high, yet these IoT machines are threating to shake up the farming community around the globe. Sara Olson, Lux Research Analyst recently reported that, “However, the costs of many systems are coming down, while wages rise due to labor shortages in some areas, and the benefits robots bring in the form of increased accuracy and precision will start to pay off in coming years.”   Drones expected to reconstruct car crashes The Justice Department has plans this week to start running tests gauging the ability of drones to accurately reconstruct car crashes. Jeramie Scott, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project suggests that, “There should be public, transparent policies spelling out specific use cases to “ensure law enforcement drones acquired for one purpose,” like crash scene reconstruction, “are not then used for secondary purposes that undermine privacy and civil liberties,” like mass surveillance of the public.”   We hope you have enjoyed this week’s short round up. Next time you see a smart device at work or around town, think about all the IoT sensors, Wi-Fi, automation and smart applications that come together to bring you state of the art technology experiences, and ask yourself “what will they think of next?”

Drone World: Applying IIoT Applications

“Drone World” may seem a bit overboard, but the fact is, drones are here to stay. We’ve spent time in these pages looking at unique and innovative drone applications in industries like utilities, precision agriculture, and even lifeguarding. Today, in honor of Memorial Day, we would like to take a moment and honor those men and women serving in the armed forces, by highlighting interesting government drone technology uses. Drones ‘Shot Into The Sky’ By The U.S. Navy The BBC News informs us how these innovative instant flight drones could be used as a method of defense for ships at sea suddenly burdened by a swarm of enemy drones. This project is known as LOCUST and it aims to launch a swarm of drones at high speed. Elizabeth Quintana from the military think tank Rusi believes that, “Drones could be used to take out enemy swarms at sea.” Drones That Can Sniff Out Radiation The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) officials have recently purchased two drones to be a view from the sky in case of an emergency to sniff out and detect signs of radiation. It will be important to use these unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in situations that are to dangerous for humans. Other Applications of Drones Drones aren’t just for the government anymore, in fact we are already starting to see the industries below finding ways to improve safety, service and efficiency with the implementation of drones. Emergency Response Enables immediate action, providing emergency response teams with fast, flexible visibility to assess critical situations. Utilities Safely allows for the quick inspection of high voltage power lines and wind turbines, helping mitigate worker risk and improve monitoring. Military & Defense Assisting with intelligent surveillance and reconnaissance missions to deliver timely, relevant, and assured information to thwart potential threats. Oil & Gas Protects and helps maintain extensive miles of pipeline covering large, remote areas that would otherwise require enormous amounts of time and resources. Agriculture Creates more efficient farms by monitoring inventory, growth, water and fertilizer levels, and crop health to facilitate production and increase yields. Public Safety Supporting firefighting operations by providing more up-to-date information at a lower cost, while reducing the number of responders in harm’s way. We hope you have enjoyed our quick drone world recap, and as always tell us what we missed. The next time you see a drone flying in the sky, think about all the possibilities that drone or fleet of drones could be providing.

XPONENTIAL Recap: Drones and so much more

New Orleans had its sights in the clouds for this year’s AUVSI XPONENTIAL conference. A leading national show for unmanned systems aimed to provide entertainment, education and networking opportunities for more than 8,000 industry leaders and professionals from 55 countries. XPONENTIAL focused this year on oil and gas; agriculture; energy and utilities; construction; and command and control defense applications. Starting off with a bang, national main stream media was drawn to those unmanned crafts in the sky, of all shapes and sizes headlining at this year’s XPONENTIAL. NBCs TODAY Show anchor Gabe Gutierrez captured a stroll through drone road, where every craft in a mile radius magically took to the sky as Gutierrez walked by. A common theme from this year was… The XPONENTIAL team consistently found ways to remind us all how intelligent robotics will continue to transform our business, travel and everyday security. This level of awareness was their way of educating everyone to embrace this technological shift. It’s about time for an FAA perspective! FAA Secretary Huerta found time during the action packed few days to sit down with Miles O’Brien to discuss trending topics and regulation over this coming year with more UAS registered and flying in the skies. Now let’s see what drones are charging into the agriculture scene this year! Farming will never be the same, now that Yamaha is creating a sprayer drone. This UAS wowed the crowds at XPONENTIAL in true rockstar fashion, reminding us all that the future of agriculture will be merged with technology. And it wouldn’t be proper to end this post without at least one brass band shot; we are in New Orleans, folks! This brass band gave the XPONENTIAL crowd a warm southern welcome as the show got under way! We also were thrilled to speak with the show organizers about how “IoT Rides on FreeWave Tech” in regards to debuting a beta version of new radio technology that leverages the Internet of Things movement to allow developers to program the product to perform functions previously unavailable on radios. Thanks to the XPONENTIAL 2016 Team and congratulations to all that made New Orleans a hit this year!

First Responders: Saving Lives, Time and Money Through Innovation

How the Internet of Things is Changing the Landscape for First Responders and Industry According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2013 there were 369,500 home fires causing some $6.8 billion in damages1 — plus an additional 98,000 apartment structure fires contributing an additional $1.6 billion in losses2. A frightening picture, isn’t it? The numbers are staggering — and yet innovation for emergency responders at both a local and national has not been a priority. The Internet of Things (IoT) aims to change that. Companies are now exploring how IoT technology can disrupt the way emergency responders do their jobs, saving countless lives and millions of dollars in the process. The IoT also holds immense promise for industrial applications, which often take place in remote locations where connectivity and communication platforms are rarely available. The IoT is a vast world, enabling the physical world to communicate with the digital world in new and amazing ways. But thanks to innovations fueled by companies focused on industrial, military, and government applications, we can traverse beyond a network of connected thermostats and smart TVs into an environment where first responders, industrial crews, and our military can communicate and receive critical information in real time.     An example of technology that is changing the world of emergency responders as well as industries like Oil and Gas, the Military, and Utilities are ruggedized, industrial shorthaul and Wi-Fi platforms that offer secure collection, control and transport of Voice, Video, Data and Sensor information at incredible speeds. So what does this mean for the industries mentioned above? Imagine first responders being enabled to pull up building plans and architectural details as they arrive on scene. Structural notes are delivered at incredible speeds, giving the emergency responders valuable insight into stairway and fire escape placements and potential danger zones. Communication between police, fire crews and ambulance drivers is streamlined — delivered at blazing fast speeds. In other situations, police can access vehicle databases or hospital services, preserving precious minutes than can mean the difference between life and death. For industrial applications, the IoT holds promise for new levels of connectivity — enabling crews to access and consume information at a moment’s notice. This means workers can collect and transmit important data quickly and securely — even in harsh conditions. Beyond connectivity, the Internet of Things also holds massive promise for the monitoring of emergency responders and industrial crews in the field. Critical sensor data — such as oxygen levels, body and ambient temperature, heart rate and more — can be viewed in real time, giving the ability to monitor the vitals of emergency responders and workers in an instant and watch for danger signs and track bio data in the field. This data can be logged and analyzed, fueling innovation that will help keep these employees safe. The IoT is a vast and ever-growing field — and it holds incredible promise for making our cities a better and safer place to live and work. For emergency responders, where seconds saved can be lives saved, and industries where time is money, the IoT holds remarkable promise for changing the way we communicate, gather data, and work in the field.   ————- Sources: 1 – http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-by-property-type/residential/home-fires 2 – http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-by-property-type/residential/apartment-structure-fires

IWCE 2016: What to expect next week?

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), is an annual event for communication technology professionals working globally in a broad range of the communications field, including energy, utilities, emergency response and municipality/infrastructure. This conference will get under way next week, from March 21-25, in Las Vegas. An estimated 7,000 individual industry experts are expected to attend from government/military; public safety (law enforcement, fire service and first responders); utility, transportation and business enterprise. IWCE will also feature around 370 exhibitors ready to show you the latest product innovations and trends forecasted this coming year. Donny Jackson editor of Urgent Communications, the official tradeshow media partner, believes that this year’s IWCE will give industry professionals a chance to get educated about the latest critical-communications technology, all while making key network contacts with industry experts. So, what else can we look forward to? IWCE promises to offer engaging content–with their 5-day comprehensive conference program; more quality time with peers; industry experts providing the latest strategies and tactics; minimal expenses–when you take advantage of conference discounts; structured networking opportunities; tangible handouts you can use throughout the year; more face-to-face learning time and more educational opportunities will be available this year. Excitement is building! Here are just a few of the people and organizations excited for next week’s event! Tune in next week for our IWCE insider recaps. Vegas here we come!

IIoT Bold Prediction Series Part 2: Government Regulations Coming

Yesterday, we kicked the 2016 IIoT Bold Prediction Series off with a bang! As a nice follow-up, and second iteration of the series, Tim Mester, Principal Engineer of Advanced Technology at FreeWave, presents his Industrial IoT bold prediction: Prediction #2: Government Regulations Coming for IoT and IIoT Devices Due to a major security breach or reliability failure in connected devices or systems used in the Industrial IoT space, governments will be compelled to create and enforce new regulations on all IoT (and IIoT) devices, much like what is happening with the drone industry. (Note: IoT security breaches are not unheard of, as pointed out in this recent article by Bill Montgomery and  Glenn Longley’s latest prediction as the first part of the bold prediction series.) But, like drones, the barrier to entry into the IoT space has been lowered by improvements in technology. For IoT/IIoT devices, it is by the proliferation of a low power “system on chip” technology (SoC) and platforms like the Beagle Bone, Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Also, the Open Source software that is available allows developers to quickly pull products together based on these inexpensive SoC’s. Now that we can quickly have these products, how do those procuring these know that they are secure? How do they know they will be reliable and will not fail in mission critical applications? Companies that are already experienced in the M2M and IIoT space understand these issues and concerns. They take the necessary steps to ensure that they can deliver secure and robust devices to their customers. But what about the new comers? The ones that took the easy route? The ones who do not have the experience in this space? Looking Ahead As IoT/IIoT data and control becomes more sensitive and critical, concern will grow concerning the robustness of all of these devices that our lives are becoming dependent on. I believe that we will see a surge of government regulations that mandate the levels of security and reliability for IoT and IIoT devices. We are already seeing the beginning of these types of government regulations being mandated in some critical infrastructure industries and this will only perpetuate. In smart grid projects, for example, operators must take into consideration the cybersecurity reliability standards which FERC oversees. This helps operators choose a more cyber-hardened technology. On the other hand, for industries that do not have these standards in place yet, there remains a tradeoff between “secure” and “easy-to-use.” When strong cybersecurity has not been mandated, people tend to avoid the “harder-to-use” option that is typically more secure.

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Designed, manufactured and tested in the USA.

© 2023 FreeWave Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.