Thinxtra provides Sigfox connectivity to IoT projects down under

Thinxtra provides Sigfox connectivity to IoT projects down under

IoT Projects in Tasmania
Hobart, Tasmania

Thinxtra, an IoT specialist that operates the Sigfox IoT network in Australia and New Zealand, has this week announced details of two new projects it is working on in the region.

First, Thinxtra is partnering in a joint venture with Tasmania-based telco Tasmanet to build a dedicated IoT network that will cover 95 percent of the island state’s population (albeit a relatively modest 520,000 people) before the end of 2017.

Second, the company is providing the connectivity for a new IoT-based security product from ATF Services, a company that specialises in protecting construction sites from theft and vandalism, with products including temporary fencing and video surveillance.

Sigfox’s unlicensed spectrum connectivity competes directly with LoRaWAN IoT connectivity from the LoRa Alliance. But licensed spectrum technology Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is often favoured by telcos, who already own the spectrum and can roll out the technology through software updates to existing base stations.

Read more: Ulster University rolls out Sigfox-based IoT network

Tasmania calling

The new IoT network in Tasmania will enable the use of smart meters, temperature probes for aquaculture and GPS trackers for agricultural assets. The project involves rolling out up to 55 communications towers across Tasmania by the third quarter of this year, according to Thinxtra, with Hobart-based Tasmanet providing access to its towers, its network for backhaul and engineers for ongoing maintenance and support of the sensor network.

This will make Tasmania the first Australian state to be “fully IoT-ready”, according to Thinxtra’s network deployment director, Sam Sharief.

“I cannot understate how big this is for Tasmania – it’s going to be huge, it’s going to empower entrepreneurs,” added Tasmanet managing director Joel Harris.

In addition to use cases in Tasmania’s agricultural and aquacultural industries, he envisages devices working in community support establishments, allowing caregivers to wear devices capable of picking up information about patients’ whereabouts and well being. Tasmanet also proposes to provide schools with equipment on a free or low-cost basis, so that pupils can learn coding and develop their own sensors for whatever purpose they choose.

In January this year, a report from management consultancy Deloitte said that Tasmania’s economy is “doing OK”, but that the perennial problems of low job numbers and slow population growth show no signs of abating.

Read more: Australian start-up Freestyle to deploy smart water meters in South Korea

Tackling building-site robberies

In the second project announced this week, Thinxtra has worked with ATF Australia on the ATF Intelligent Wireless Alarm to tackle the rising problem of theft from construction sites. Other technology partners on the project include Microsoft and Melbourne-based digital consultancy Two Bulls.

The ATF Intelligent Wireless Alarm provides monitoring for up to 12 months on 4 AA batteries, according to ATF Services. It can be mounted in indoor or outdoor environments and is equipped with four sensors that detect movement, vibration, and changes in sound and light. When triggered by a thief, for example, it will activate a flashing red warning light and a buzzer alarm. Company employees, meanwhile, will instantly receive an alert regarding the activation on their smartphone, via the accompanying app.

The product is underpinned by the ATF Cloud platform, hosted on Microsoft Azure and designed on top of Microsoft’s Service Fabric to support millions of concurrently connected devices.

Building site theft is apparently a big problem in Australia, although recent figures are hard to come by. Back in 2008, a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that 39 percent of residential builders were affected by theft or vandalism at their building sites. Of those, two-thirds had experienced more than one incident. Sixty-one percent meanwhile had experienced the theft of raw materials, while 46 percent had experienced the loss of small hand-held tools.

Said Brett Shoemaker, Microsoft Australia’s cloud and enterprise business group leader: “ATF Services identified a major challenge facing its clients and has developed an intelligent, scalable and resilient solution that will deliver solid returns on investment by ensuring construction sites are secured and projects meet crucial deadlines.”

Read more: Australian construction firm uses IoT for ‘smart helmets’ which keep workers safe