Issue 26 Articles

Teleplan Globe logoSmart Planning
leads to Smart Cities

InterComms looks at how Teleplan Globe’s CARMEN
product offering could be a key IoT tool

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“By 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to connect 50 to 100 Billion smart things and objects, paving the way to great economic opportunities and challenges. According to Cisco, by 2018, over half of all IP traffic will originate with non-PC devices and the machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic will grow at an annual rate of 84%. According to the IERC and the ITU, the largest barriers hindering the Internet of Things market development is the lack of interoperability.” Latif Ladd.

With the growth of Smart City technology, which can be as simple as using light sensors to turn on city lights rather than timers, with maintenance sensors telling a central control when the components need replacing, to water meters. The use of IoT and M2M technology leads to one big problem: where do the uses stop for individual corporations. The simple answer is they don’t; the only limit is money.

The key is in two main areas: strength of network and strength of planning. Identifying what you want to achieve first and prioritizing after that. What is really needed is a planning tool that can be adapted to any IoT use and M2M infrastructure. Thankfully the technology is already here in the form of Teleplan’s CARMEN tool, featured previously in InterComms, for Telecom and Utilities usage: this adaptable product can help at any planning stage for any project.

Q: Teleplan Globe have a history in working with utilities providing IoT and M2M planning for metering etc, so in terms of working with devices in city grid systems you understand the complexities and problems involved with Smart City technology deployment?
A: Yes, we do. Working with the largest DSOs in Norway, with a common goal to ensure a secure deployment of smart meters, Teleplan has gained valuable experience that easily can be transferred into IoT and other M2M deployments in a smart city context. These DSOs include the largest cities in Norway and we have proven that CARMEN is a tool that can cope with all challenges you’ll meet in such a project. As part of the planning there are a number of factors that are important, including coverage, stability, robustness and price. In order to find the optimal localization, as well as the optimal combination of the communication equipment in a geographical location, it is crucial to take into account the existing infrastructure, terrain and buildings. In addition to the optimal localization, it is essential to design the infrastructure with the proper degree of robustness to be able to handle a failure of a concentrator.

Q: CARMEN is one of the most flexible planning tools on the market. It really can be used to plan from water meter data collection, through to traffic automation of traffic lights, right down to monitoring of weight levels in refuse trucks etc. Can you explain in basics how this is achieved?
A: CARMEN provides a detailed overview and an intuitive user interface to plan, test and analyse the localization of communication equipment from the parent level down to the street - and single-house level. With the use of CARMEN you are able to perform coverage calculation based on various types of communication devices and network topologies for each device. Based on the coverage calculation, it is possible to identify and visualize problem areas as early as possible. Furthermore, the import of large amounts of short range devices is based on geographical location, and you have the ability to add and modify the properties of nodes in the map solution, to set parameters and values that defines specific coverage areas, and the choice of propagation model, as well as other criteria for coverage calculation. In CARMEN you have full GIS tool performance and functionality, thus navigation around the map surface is similar to that of other modern map applications. Several base layers and transparent information layers can be superimposed to easily show or hide information respectively interesting or redundant for various tasks and analysis. The coverage analysis is for the communication devices connected in various network topologies (mesh, star and cluster tree). Coverage calculation gives suggestions for a plan, based on criteria such as equipment, location, power transmission and the like. A communications plan may need to see coverage from one to many devices in detail, while others just want to see an overview based on coverage between nodes in a specific area. An analysis tool based on a cost-benefit calculation can propose an optimal starting point for configuration of the infrastructure. The analysis is based on criteria such as antenna type, radio coverage between nodes and required level of redundancy. The analysis returns a cost-effective plan for deployment, and configuration of appropriate communication equipment for each device, while providing sufficient robustness in the net.

Q: Could you talk through one of the projects that CARMEN is being used for, the successes and the problems that you overcame?
A: CARMEN is currently being used to plan a secure deployment for most of the smart meters in Norway. In numbers this means that approximately 2,1 million out of a total of approximately 2,7 million smart meters are planned making use of the tool. The largest project is actually the largest one in Norway when it comes to the number of smart meters. Our customer is an international communication vendor that is responsible for the delivery of the smart meters, including the communication infrastructure to 27 DSO’s ranging from the Russian border to the south-west coast of Norway. This means that CARMEN has been challenged to the full, with all kinds of topology issues, such as mountains, valleys, fjords, rural areas, densely populated areas and more. What we have learned is that our customers are very pleased to find a product like CARMEN in the marketplace. We frequently hear that they don’t see how they could have made their projects available without the use of CARMEN, and that is always nice. Other things that we have learned is that end-customers, like everyone else, have a cost focus, which in this context has meant that they seek to reduce the amount of master nodes by increasing the amount of slaves and making use of better covering antenna types, more antennas, etc. This is the kind of information it would have been very difficult to gain without making use of CARMEN.

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