gridComm, Somerset Group bring smart street lighting sensory network to Africa

gridComm, a provider of smart street light solutions and IoT sensor networks, and civic-minded investment firm Somerset Group have partnered to install smart street lighting sensory networks across the Kingdom of Swaziland.

A developing country with a small economy, Swaziland — a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) — is flanked by the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Mozambique.

A majority of Swaziland is undeveloped, and its economy is highly focused on agriculture, forestry and mining. With these industries only accounting for approximately 13% of the gross domestic product, there is an urgent need to bolster productivity and increase the standard of living.

gridComm’s unique smart street lighting sensory network technology delivers intelligent, eco-friendly lighting to Swaziland, saving energy and money while also limiting carbon emissions.

Concurrently, based on the existing street lighting infrastructure, the technology establishes a ready-to-use Internet of Things (IoT) sensory network which can be used to monitor crops, weather and more via data analytics. This will assist Swaziland’s farming communities by helping to optimise productivity and increase agricultural output.

gridComm’s smart street lighting sensory network system is built with hybrid communication technologies comprised of a next-generation multi-channel OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) power line communication (PLC) transceiver (gridComm’s GC2200) and a wireless physical layer.

gridComm uses its PLC and digital power supply technologies to convert traditional street lighting into energy-aware and remotely managed and monitored web-based networks.

59869_logo--gridComm-large“By deploying gridComm’s solution, the practice of sending engineering experts physically out into the field to fix connectivity issues becomes a thing of the past, as they can now be remotely monitored,” noted Mike Holt, CEO for gridComm. “Our technology has been thoroughly proven to be exceptionally robust and reliable, and our recent successes in more than 12 cities across Asia underscore this fact. We look forward to delivering more deployments in Swaziland and other parts of Africa in conjunction with Somerset Group.”

As the preferred technology for street light control, PLC is more reliable than wireless technologies — particularly low-power radio frequency technologies — which are more prone to interference in outdoor environments. Because many IoT sensors run on batteries, hybrid power line and wireless communication technology ensures connectivity between these sensors when they are in the vicinity of smart street lights.

With gridComm’s solution, IoT sensors can be introduced to the network as they are needed. gridComm modules are designed to automatically attach to the nearest gateway without onsite tuning or configuration — for true ‘plug-and-play’ connectivity.

“For a developing country like Swaziland, adopting the right technology solutions is crucial to shaping a sustainable environment,” noted Henri Thompson, group managing director of Somerset Group, South Africa. “We envision that gridComm’s smart technology will deliver the data analytics needed to boost crop yields and positively affect Swaziland’s economic development. We intend to bring gridComm technology and all of its benefits to other countries on the African continent as well.”

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