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The Perfect Swarm: five drones, one pilot, and a mobile cell on wings

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 20, 2018

3 min read

As part of Telstra Vantage™ 2018 we took the opportunity to brief media on our new drone technologies that use our mobile network to assist authorities in disaster management situations.

Extreme weather events, such as bushfires, cyclones and floods, have a devastating impact on people and communities in Australia. We are already using drones to inspect our network infrastructure and provide rapid assessments of any damage when disaster strikes to help us restore services faster. With 5G on the near horizon, we are working on how drones can be used to go even further in helping communities and governments manage and recover after a natural disaster.

Our new drone technology was trialled in the field earlier in September in Laverton, Victoria, where the Telstra Labs team executed a drone swarm and a mobile ‘cell on wings’ demonstration using 4GX on the Telstra mobile network.

The drone swarm is a group of drones controlled by a single pilot flying in formation and using vision capture to quickly and efficiently map an area impacted by fire or flood. As the technology matures, allowing for more than one drone per pilot, drone swarms will be able to be deployed routinely to simultaneously cover and search a large area – something that could save lives in an emergency rescue situation, and time and money in less dramatic situations.

Computer vision capability enables the cameras on the drones to identify specific objects, such as people and vehicles. This can help emergency services operators to locate people who require rescue, and also in assessing the overall scale of damage over a large area.

The ‘cell on wings’ is a mobile small cell mounted on a drone in order to temporarily boost mobile network coverage in a local area, which is particularly useful in emergency situations.

Telstra’s mobile network is an essential element in enabling the use of drones in emergency situations. The network allows us to quickly send and receive data from the drone, and allows the pilots to safely set up missions for multiple drones through a single platform with visibility and control over all the drones that are flying.

In the future, 5G will allow operators using this type of technology to run missions end-to-end with an extensive data uplink capability. This would mean being able to stream large sets of live data (such as high resolution video) back to operators in real time, and back to the server for even more intelligent decision making.

5G’s low latency will allow much more precise real time control over drones and other remotely-operated vehicles over the next decade.

Telstra is committed to being the leading enabler and communications backbone of the future safe and secure drone-based economy.

Read more about Telstra’s 5G leadership.

Hear more on 5G and how industry is transforming itself for the future from inspirational thinkers in an open discussion with host Adam Spencer.

Subscribe to the Telstra Vantage™ – Behind the Mic podcast now on iTunes, Whooshka or your favourite podcasting app.

Tags: 5g, Drones, IoT,

Partnering with major water utilities to monitor and preserve our most precious resource

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 19, 2018

4 min read

Fresh, clean water is a precious but limited resource. The Bureau of Meteorology reports that Non-Revenue Water loss in Australia in the past five years reached over 870 gigalitres which is 10 percent of water utilities’ system input. Yet, in the 2015-16 year, household water usage increased three percent to 1,899 gigalitres. This means that while we’re using more water than ever, we’re also continuing to waste this highly valuable resource.

As we continue to experience the effects of a drying climate against a growing population and a higher use of water, the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to conserve, protect, monitor and intelligently manage one of our most precious resources.

Whether it’s leakage prevention with smart water meters or environmental monitoring to keep our oceans clean and estuaries safe from contaminants, water utilities across the country are using IoT technology to better track, monitor and conserve water.

Over the past year, we have been trialing our Digital Water Metering IoT solution with some of the largest water utilities across Australia to identify water leakages and prioritise water-saving measures. For water utilities that want to better engage with their customers and have an obligation to use resources sustainably at all times, this is a critical benefit that demonstrates the power of IoT innovation for the industry. It also significantly improves their bottom line.

Our Digital Water Metering solution drives insights to prevent water wastage and reduce consumption – all which lead to reduced water bills for consumers and operating costs for utility companies.

We are also excited to announce the first CATM1 and NB-IoT certified module on Telstra’s IoT Network. The module is integrated into Telstra’s Captis Environment Monitoring IoT sensor. This IoT sensor is now available to enable our customers to proactively detect leakages, blockages and manage water quality and consumption at scale.

The Telstra IoT Network is one of the largest in the world and we are the only carrier in Australia to offer both Cat M1 and Narrowband IoT technology. Our customers can now connect a range of IoT solutions in more places than ever before on Australia’s largest, most reliable and most secure ready-built LPWA Network.

Specifically, Telstra’s NB IoT coverage now reaches more than 3.5 million square kilometres and is built to support millions of connected devices such as water quality sensors, environment monitors, trackers and alarms. By transmitting at very low data rates with coverage that reaches challenging locations – such as in-building and sub-surface – and battery life measured in years rather than days, NB-IoT makes scaled IoT deployments possible.

This means the Digital Water Metering solution can have a battery life expectation of 12 – 15 years, enabling capabilities such as power saving mode and deep sleep mode. And, with Telstra’s NB-IoT footprint now reaching more than 3.5 million square kilometres, it means that water consumption can be tracked and monitored at greater reach and greater depth. It also means that many of the regional water utilities can tap into water insights in areas that have previously been costly to access.

The opportunities here are endless, and the dividends are massive for providers, consumers and the environment. With IoT powering innovation that brings smarter gains in efficiency and productivity, as well as larger reductions in wastage, we can now do more with water while also using less. And we can do it all better than we ever could before.

Straight from Telstra Vantage™, hear more about how industry is transforming itself for the future from inspirational thinkers in an open discussion with host Adam Spencer.

Subscribe to the Telstra Vantage™ – Behind the Mic podcast now on iTunes, Whooshka or your favourite podcasting app.

IoT Podcast: Agriculture industry embracing Internet of Things

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 12, 2018

4 min read

The Internet of Things (IoT) sits at the heart of a major technology-driven transformation in Australian agriculture that has huge implications across the whole $60 billion industry.

Subscribe to the Telstra Enterprise – Behind The Mic podcast now on iTunes, Omny or your favourite podcasting app.

With IoT, farmers can monitor and manage every tiny detail — from the moisture, nutrient and acidity contents of soil and individual plants to the presence of pests and local weather patterns to the health and wellbeing and minute-to-minute movements of cattle.

And as these elements become connected, farmers stand to gain huge insights from big data analytics that enable better decisions both on the farm and at every stage along the supply chain — a move that should ensure the agriculture industry can feed the world’s projected 8.6 billion people by 2030 and 9.8 billion by 2050.

Livestock monitoring and management

It can be a time-intensive task to manually track and monitor hundreds or thousands of farm animals such as cows or sheep, which are sometimes spread across vast areas, but a multitude of IoT technologies make light work of this.

GPS and RFID sensors attached to the animals, coupled with a drone or ground-based high-precision geo-mapping tools and sensors on water bores and troughs enable livestock management that simultaneously looks at the state of the herd as well as each individual animal — thereby negating the need for farmers to make constant trips to check on things in person.

Sensors can detect, for instance, when an animal is sick or about to give birth and alert the farmer via a text message or app notification. Predictive data analytics can even identify notable changes in an animal’s condition before they present any obvious symptoms.

Motion sensor data on cow movement revealed that the animals get restless at night when they are fertile. Farmers were able to use this information to increase the productivity of cows by around 20 percent.

Elsewhere, Australian startup Smart Paddock is using IoT to track and monitor animal-related health issues in cattle herds to identify animals that are sick (or especially healthy).

Around 450,000 cattle die prematurely in herds across Australia each year — amounting to around 7 percent of cows in the country, or more than $700 million in lost revenue. But this data helps to identify the causes of illness, and to reduce the spread of disease within a herd, so that those premature death numbers can head as close to zero as possible.

Data insights for today’s global markets

Agriculture has become a global business. Farmers no longer produce food and other goods only for the domestic market; they now export to China and the United States and other places all around the world.

And it’s technology like that developed by Smart Paddock, or by FKG Group’s Queensland-based innovation precinct for farming, that allows Australian produce to compete on the global stage — with fast, evidence-based decisions that have a significant impact both on short-term yields and long-term productivity.

Sensors can detect, for instance, when an animal is sick or about to give birth and alert the farmer via a text message or app notification. Predictive data analytics can even identify notable changes in an animal’s condition before they present any obvious symptoms.

Motion sensor data on cow movement revealed that the animals get restless at night when they are fertile. Farmers were able to use this information to increase the productivity of cows by around 20 percent.

Elsewhere, Australian startup Smart Paddock is using IoT to track and monitor animal related health issues in cattle herds to identify animals that are sick (or especially healthy).

Around 450,000 cattle die prematurely in herds across Australia each year — amounting to around 7 percent of cows in the country, or more than $700 million in lost revenue. But this data helps to identify the causes of illness, and to reduce the spread of disease within a herd, so that those premature death numbers can head as close to zero as possible.

Data insights for today’s global markets

Agriculture has become a global business. Farmers no longer produce food and other goods only for the domestic market; they now export to China and the United States and other places all around the world.

And it’s technology like that developed by Smart Paddock, or by FKG Group’s Queensland-based innovation precinct for farming, that allows Australian produce to compete on the global stage — with fast, evidence-based decisions that have a significant impact both on short-term yields and long-term productivity.

Tags: IoT, podcast, regional,

IoT podcast: Harnessing IoT to protect our precious resources

Business and Enterprise

Posted on August 28, 2018

3 min read

The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to better conserve, monitor and intelligently manage the utilities that we all depend on: electricity, gas and water.

Subscribe to the Telstra Enterprise – Behind The Mic podcast now on iTunes, Omny or your favourite podcasting app.

Whether it’s saving energy by identifying and eliminating waste, managing our home appliances, or preventing leaks with smart water meters, the Internet of Things is helping to reduce utility waste and it’s saving Australians millions of dollars in the process.

Energy retailer Origin wants to automatically improve our energy use by integrating IoT sensors, smart meters and smart devices into our homes. The idea is that sensors for detecting movement, temperature and humidity can leverage home wi-fi networks to interact with smart lights, plugs, appliances and gateway devices that hook up to a controller app on a smartphone.

Lights and appliances can be configured to automatically turn off or on at certain times or under certain circumstances (like if you leave or enter the room), which saves electricity and reduces bill costs. And better yet, all this data could help improve load balancing on the electrical grid — to more efficiently manage electricity production from solar, hydro, wind, coal and gas sources, or perhaps to automatically use off-peak electricity rates. All of this better optimises our everyday energy consumption.

Even before you get to our energy usage at home and work, we’re wasting huge amounts of electricity. Basement car parks, lifts, foyers, gardens, and other communal areas of apartment blocks, office buildings and hotels use tremendous amounts of power. But Wattblock is on a mission to change this — at least for the 2.2 million Australians who live in apartments.

The energy analytics start-up uses smart meters and IoT sensors to first quantify energy waste in apartment buildings. This shows strata organisations just how much money they’re losing from the outdated lighting, ventilation and hot water systems in their common areas.

Using techniques such as machine learning and A.I., Wattblock helps transition these buildings to more sustainable energy technologies such as solar and batteries, LED Lighting, heat pumps for hot water and even electric vehicle recharging stations. Wattblock has benchmarked energy savings of up to 80 percent and assisted some of the first apartment blocks in Australia to achieve 5 star environmental ratings.

These sorts of savings are not just great for businesses and residential buildings. They’re also great for the environment. With IoT powering innovation that brings smarter gains in efficiency and productivity, as well as larger reductions in wastage, we can do more with water and electricity while also using less of both.

We can protect our most precious ecosystems from the byproducts of industry and population growth and make big cuts to our carbon emissions. And we can do it all better than we ever could before.

Tags: IoT, podcast,

Transforming how we work

Telstra News T22

Posted on July 30, 2018

11 min read

Today we have announced fundamental changes to Telstra’s organisational structure and operating model. Part of our T22 strategy, these are about building a company agile and nimble enough to respond quickly to rapidly changing market dynamics and opportunities. To do that we need to change how we work. I wanted to share the note I sent to employees today because I want to keep being as transparent as possible about what we are doing and what that means for our customers and employees.

Tags: IoT,