Archive for the ‘System intergration’ Category

The Business Value of the Network Integrator

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

THE COMPLEXITY CHALLENGE

Within the last few years, service providers have engaged in a wide array of initiatives to transform their networks and business models to monetize growing user demand for new interactive multimedia communications and entertainment experiences. While the drive to grow revenue is, and will remain, a core factor for operators, the requirement to save on operating and capital costs has more recently risen to equal prominence, as new data revenues have not yet made up for declining voice services and slowing subscriber growth for most operators.

Many paths to more cost effective service provider operations are being examined. The most prominent of these is to migrate to an all-IP-based network. Whether fixed or mobile operator, this migration requires a transformation from time-tested legacy infrastructure with built-in reliability to a relatively new set of platforms that require careful engineering and integration to ensure a premium quality of experience. The transformation also requires changes in OSS/BSS and opens up the possibility of new service delivery and customer management business tools and models.

As a result, service providers are engaged in a more complex integration environment than ever before. While the overall concept of transforming to an IP-based network is conceptually feasible, the multitude of migration and optimization requirements that are visible in today’s network environment threaten to overwhelm service provider staff capabilities at a time when cost management is becoming the key priority.

Case Study: Cost Reduction At BT

Project examples include British Telecom’s investment in a converged IP core network, an intelligent service enabling infrastructure based on IMS, an operations support systems (OSS) architecture based on commercial off-the-shelf systems, and the development of an open application layer that allows faster time-to-market for traditional and Web 2.0 services. These initiatives, dubbed the “21st Century Network” by BT, are based on a business case that emphasizes platform consolidation as a way to first reduce operating, development and maintenance costs; and eventually generate new services and new sources of revenue. The clock is ticking on achieving this transformation, as BT intends to close down its last PSTN switch in 2011.

However, such cost reducing initiatives can be hampered by complexity; multiple projects are required to not only transform the various domains of the network, but integrate them into a seamless end-to-end working solution. The process of translating the vision of a transformed network into a positive business case and process road map can be very time consuming. After the road map is complete, then the work really begins with a multitude of sub-projects to drive the transformation of each network domain and the overall end-to-end network solution.

Needed Expertise

In many cases, service providers lack the expertise to effectively carry out both the pre-transformation planning and the post-execution training and ongoing support of numerous projects. Manpower shortages and a lack of specific knowledge/expertise may be an issue for a small-to-medium operator, while even a large operator may lack the technology expertise in IP or Web services to effectively carry out the plan with only in-house resources. Alternatively, service providers may have internal expertise but wish to prioritize the utilization of these resources to address their core competence – developing and delivering end user services.

Frequently, a number of outside “experts” are brought into the service provider to carry out major transformation projects, or certain subprojects within a major project. These vendors can include:

  • Telecom equipment suppliers working with the network-facing elements;
  • IT systems integrators working with operational support and billing systems; and,
  • Software and Internet services specialists focused on applications.

Without careful management the cost and time requirements of the sub-projects may quickly wipe out a large portion of the cost savings in the original business case.

However, one strategy being adopted by a growing number of service providers to minimize the cost of transformation is to select a single integrator that brings together a combination of its own skills and a roster of “best-of-breed” partners to achieve desired transformation goals in the most efficient manner.

THE DOMAIN CHALLENGE

According to TBR’s Telecom Infrastructure Services Model (TIS), service providers worldwide will spend more than $15 billion on integration services in 2008, as shown in Figure 1 below. TBR’s TIS Model tracks telecommunications infrastructure services spending by service providers worldwide. Published semiannually, the model is based on analysis and forecasts of product-attached or capex-driven services such as deployment and maintenance, and non-product-attached or external opex-driven services such as professional and managed services.


As indicated in the preceding figure, service provider investments are expected across four major domains to achieve effective end-to-end network transformation. The domains address the key areas of the service provider infrastructure, and each domain requires a set of specialty skills to support the required optimization, consolidation and integration goals of each subproject. The four key domains are defined as follows:

Subscriber Domain

Transformation in the Subscriber Domain enables a shift from mass market services built to provide a common experience to all end users, to easily accessible services tailored to the individual on demand. Service providers are well-positioned to deliver these services because they can leverage assets such as subscriber presence and location information, subscriber preference information, single sign-on capability, real-time rating and charging, and content administration. Service providers gain differentiation by an ability to account for individual preferences and desires, which builds customer loyalty and reduces churn. In addition, this new capability allows service providers to field alternative business models such as advertising.

In addition, the transformed Subscriber Domain makes it easier for service providers to deliver third-party applications that support value-added services tailored to the individual subscriber. Critical to this capability is the ability to provide third-party services access to federated subscriber data. To transform the Subscriber Domain, operators must integrate multiple subscriber systems into an optimized management system that allows subscriber data to be quickly and easily accessed by service provisioning and delivery and billing systems. However, the transformation process goes beyond simply replacing aging silos of subscriber data with a distributed intelligent database: transforming the subscriber domain means enabling personalization and delivery of targeted content for end users, in addition to consolidating platforms, while maintaining the quality of experience, regardless of the targeted end user network or device.

Applications Domain

The Application Domain of the network is perhaps the most critical of the four domains. As service providers rapidly convert to software-oriented architectures that support concepts such as “write once, deploy everywhere” applications, the ability to provide a common development platform is crucial. For example service providers such asAT&T base their implementation of new service layer-enabling technology on the number of services they can rapidly bring to market. With AT&T in the midst of deploying U-verseIPTV  service for the home and high-speed HSPA wireless broadband networks, the goal for a growing number of these services is that they be accessible via “three screens” — the PC, the television and the mobile device.

In addition to the “three screens” target, service providers are leveraging SOA and Web 2.0 environments to reduce the time to market for application deployment. The goal is to make available IP-compatible services as quickly as possible. This requirement increases the need for a well-integrated application delivery environment that can seamlessly leverage the underlying IP network.

Added to these requirements is the ability to present and quickly deploy applications from third-party developers without reengineering network interfaces. The new Applications Domain must not only be capable of delivering to any access point, but must also be capable of seamlessly integrating with non-native applications. The transformed service delivery environment therefore requires seamless migration and mediation services for third-party applications.

Billing And OSS Domain

Integrating billing and operations support systems (OSS) are crucial to managing customer revenue acquisition and retention, and ensuring network and applications reliability and consistent quality of service. Transformations in this area typically focus on consolidating diverse OSS and BSS systems that today address separate silos or applications, to create a single, consolidated support management system that tracks and manages the customer based on all his or her relationships with the service provider. In concert with the subscriber and application domain evolutions, future billing systems must evolve to support new customer relationships and new application revenue recognition models such as advertising and third-party revenue sharing.

OSS consolidation on commercial off-the-shelf platforms is gradually replacing the highly customized platforms of the past. These operational support systems must also accommodate new network elements, particularly the ability to monitor and manage IP traffic and cross-domain applications.

Network Infrastructure Domain

The integration of high capacity access networks with common core network elements supporting reliable delivery of IP multimedia services requires unique expertise. Service providers are increasingly relying on partnerships with equipment suppliers to guarantee quality of service in these implementations. Many are turning to out-tasking or outsourcing models to reduce costs for in-house training.

Ultimately, however, integrating the layers of network infrastructure from the device to access, aggregation, edge, core and transport to deliver services in an optimized seamless manner requires a range of network integration skills. Further, these evolutions must be accomplished in concert with transformation in the other domains to achieve effective end-to-end implementation.

Network Integrator Role

As Figure 2 indicates, the Network Integrator delivers best-in-class integration capabilities within each of these four domains and, most importantly, delivers the design, project management and integration services expertise to integrate the entire set of domains to deliver the desired services to end customers.

Without sufficient attention to integration requirements across domains, service providers run the risk of lack of project coordination, imbalanced investments among the various domains and not meeting end-to-end service objectives. A Network Integrator is often needed to resolve such issues because many service providers still operate in silos of control, in which each domain is owned and managed by different stakeholders in the company.

Case Study: Verizon’s Silos

Verizon Communications provides a good example of a network operator in the early stages of transformation. The company’s core businesses, as characterized by Verizon’s Director of Multimedia Services Architecture Bill Goodman, include:

  • A local telecommunications business that is focused on transforming from traditional voice service to fiber to the premise (FTTP), delivering a bundle of intelligent, interactive services;
  • A business services arm, Verizon Business, that is evolving to an IMS-driven, SIP-based services model; and,
  • Verizon Wireless, a mobile business joint venture with Vodafone Communications, which is upgrading capacity to support VoIP and fixed mobile convergence by means of dualWiFi /CDMA devices.

NETWORK INTEGRATOR BUSINESS VALUE

While there are many integrators operating within today’s service providers, consolidating the transformation projects under the supervision of a primary Network Integrator offers the following areas of business value:

Cost Savings

There are a number cost savings benefits to working with a Network Integrator, including 1) consolidating supplier management, 2) maintaining overall project vision and 3) ensuring project goals are achieved in a timely fashion.

Consolidating Supplier Management

By establishing the transformation process as a project under the guidance of a single Network Integrator, the service provider consolidates the cost of supplier management. Rather than manage a host of subprojects with different suppliers, the service provider, according to the business plans, maps out a vision and sets performance expectations according the business plan with a single partner. The Network Integrator is responsible for managing the subprojects within the context of multivendor agreements with the appropriate third parties and the service provider. With the right Network Integrator, the service provider will also be able to turn over supplier sourcing, resulting in additional savings in time and staff resources. Alternatively, the Network Integrator may be required to work with other suppliers identified by the service provider. The integrator must be skilled at both identifying appropriate suppliers and working with installed base suppliers or service provider preferences.

Maintaining Project Vision

Because of the multiple domains involved, service providers can easily become focused on a portion of the transformation within a single domain rather than maintain the complete roadmap. Operating independently, suppliers can move at varying speeds within subprojects and lose track of the big picture. These issues can cloud the once-clear evolution/transformation path across domains, causing imbalanced investments and outcomes for key milestones. For example, an IT supplier may implement an integration project involving the deployment of new consolidated BSS/OSS platforms without sufficient understanding of the changes in the underlying network, or parallel subscriber and applications domain. This may require costly additional integration expenses to create the appropriate interfaces or even change major aspects of platform functionality to accommodate the misunderstandings.

Achieving Goals on Time

Acting as the chief project manager, the Network Integrator ensures that cost savings through platform consolidation and other transformations are achieved according to deadline. Often these savings can be delayed due to interdependencies of the various sub-projects. The Network Integrator’s role is to help the service provider identify interdependencies and effectively manage them to meet the project timeline. The Network Integrator may bring its own design and analysis tools to bear on the full-scale transformation, allowing better risk mitigation and contingency planning across all subprojects and suppliers involved.

Faster Time To Revenue

As in the case of BT, while many of today’s transformation projects are based on business cases that focus on cost reduction, operators understandably expect to attain new sources of revenue at the end of any transformation project. Decreasing time-to-market and reducing investments required to launch new products and services will continue to be requirements in transformation projects.

While many service providers engage in IP transformation as a hedge against future challenges to their business models, most foresee the impact of new sources of revenue from services that blend personalized content with multimedia and multi-device access capabilities. They also expect new revenue sharing and advertising models to create incremental revenue. These future value/benefit expectations are driving today’s transformation projects.

The Network Integrator must possess sufficient expertise with new revenue sources to achieve the revenue-generation milestone, and not just settle for delivering cost savings. This commitment is a change from the traditional position of equipment suppliers, who have historically operated with a philosophy of “if we build it (the network), they (subscribers and revenue) will come.” In short, the delivery of the subscribers through investments in customer acquisition was up to the service provider.

The age of the Network Integrator does not mean a fundamental shift in roles. Service providers must still invest in customer acquisition and focus on new services development. But the Network Integrator, operating in partnership with the service provider to achieve the transformation vision, shares the requirement to secure subscribers. To this end, the Integrator must possess end-customer knowledge through research and experience so that the transformations within each domain cater to real revenue value for the service provider.

Figure 3 maps the Network Integrator skill requirements to the key domains to achieve the transformation sought by the majority of service providers today. The data indicates that the Network Integrator role requires both domain and project management expertise at a multivendor level, as well as experience achieving transformation milestones.

Case Study: Telstra — One Click

Telstra represents a major network transformation project in which the skills of the Network Integrator have been crucial to meeting project milestones and delivering benefits to the service provider, according to Michael Lawrey, Telstra’s Executive Director for Network and Technology. Telstra’s journey began in November 2005 with the challenge of creating an end-to-end IP infrastructure that could enable “one-click services,” whereby the end user could access a consistent experience no matter which network access method was used. To enable the IP infrastructure to meet this, Telstra executed three infrastructure transformations:

  • Transformation of the mobile network infrastructure to a next-generation network
  • Installation of a high-capacity IP core network
  • Transformation of a next-generation access network
  • Cross-domain network operations and service delivery

The Network Integrator, in this case Alcatel-Lucent, provided complete end-to-end cross-domain project management. “Regardless of the equipment we used in the network, the integrator was responsible for it all, even including the testing and quality assurance tools,” Lawrey said.

The key for Telstra was to work in close collaboration with the Network Integrator, which provided a single point of accountability. In addition to managing the interdependencies of a multivendor, cross domain environment, the Network Integrator provided the critical functions of ensuring that subscribers would be served efficiently with the quality of experience Telstra expected. Lawrey characterized this as making sure the customer delivery system operated effectively, including services activation and network assurance.

Telstra achieved cost savings of 30% to 40% by employing a single Network Integrator, Lawrey said, including via a reduced workload on Telstra’s staff and through cost savings in equipment and services from the suppliers involved in the project. “By pushing the workload to a single integrator we achieved economy of scale,” Lawrey said.

The transformation of Telstra’s network domains is an ongoing project that includes the complete lifecycle of deployment, operation and maintenance. Lawrey expects the Network Integrator to come along for the entire journey. “We have built a relationship not only with the country team, but also the global assets of the supplier. We have a deeper relationship with coordination of global road maps and strategy. This is a partnership for the lifecycle of the network,” Lawrey said.

SUPPLIER SELECTION

While not all firms can fit the bill across the range of skills required for the Network Integrator role among suppliers, service providers have a short list of consolidated firms that are vying for the opportunity. These include the largest suppliers of telecom infrastructure services as shown in Figure 4.

SUMMARY

The importance of the Network Integrator role will continue to grow as service providers move more aggressively toward transformation. Maintaining the skill sets and delivering on the project milestones will be key differentiators for suppliers in both IT and telecom going forward. Alcatel-Lucent has an early lead with positions in a number of major service provider projects. With the role of Network Integrator open to a single supplier at each account, the company’s position is the strongest of the top suppliers. However the position will not go unchallenged; each supplier will work from its installed base and technology position to gain the role.

Intelligent Building (IB)

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The term “Intelligent Building” (IB) has become a very popular description covering almost all new commercial and residential buildings in major cities worldwide. In the general sense, IB relates to buildings that contain high-speed local area networks, protocols, fiber optics, multimedia environments and even satellite conferencing. It is generally believed that all modern IBs in the world possess advanced information technologies (ITs). The trend is for most building service systems to be integrated into an IT environment, which is an essential tool for an IB. IBs utilize advanced information, control and mechatronic technologies as well as employ smart structure and modern management theories. But IBs should encompass more than that; Davmark and our IIT solutions promote a true and comprehensive picture of IBs.

The definition of IB varies in different regions. Generally, an intelligent building is designed and constructed based on an appropriate selection of quality environment modules to meet users’ requirements by matching the appropriate building facilities to achieve long-termed building value. The definition includes two dimensions — the needs of the building developer/owner/occupants and the enabling technologies. The integration of these two dimensions will generate measurable long-termed building values such as productivity, market value, energy conservation, environmental friendliness and high working efficiency.

Flash Creators Reveal App for Saving Money on Energy

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Greenbox_capture_1Greenbox, a startup founded by the creators of Flash, announced the roll-out of its power consumption monitoring application today.

Installed along with networked electrical meters to a limited number of homes by Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the new trial is Greenbox’s first move into a market that’s quickly become crowded with competitors like Tendril, Agilewaves, and DIY Kyoto.

All these applications allow their users to see how much energy they’re using and, if they want to, reduce it.

“We believe we can make specific [energy-saving] recommendations based on your situation that are far more valuable than any of the general tips on websites.” said Matt Smith, the chief marketer for Greenbox.

Regardless of which application consumers end up using — they all provide similar functionality — the concept makes sense for consumers. But what’s in it for utilities?

Peakload

The shrinking gap between how much power utilities can produce and how much Americans will consume is driving the old-line industry to try to drive down demand for the product they sell.

As can be seen in the embedded chart, based on data provided by Peggy Suggs, an analyst at the Edison Electric Institute, the amount of slack in the nation’s electrical grid is shrinking. Without breathing room, the risk of blackouts increases and expensive (and dirty) backup power plants called “peakers” have to be fired up more often.

Electric companies could just build more power plants, but the permitting process is difficult and high-commodity prices are making construction increasingly expensive.

That’s led many utilities to turn to energy efficiency, which is sometimes called “the fifth fuel”. Most of the programs, though, remain in the trial stage. To make use of Greenbox or its competitors, utilities have to install some kind of smart meter for your household.
These meters can run up to $100, which multiplies out to many millions of dollars over a utility’s area of service.

Greenbox_capture_2

This cost has slowed adoption. As a result, demand-response programs only reduced peak-load by 27 gigawatts in 2006, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s not much, considering that more than 4,000 gigawatts  of power were produced by those other four fuels.

Once the meters are in place, a big key to getting “demand response”
programs to work is introducing a variable rate structure in which consumers are charged more for energy during peak times and less in the off-hours. In Oklahoma, they’re calling that variable system the Smart
Power TOU.

Greenbox_capture_3

The utilities figure that consumers will respond rationally to this price signal and cut their usage during the period by eliminating it or shifting it to a cheaper time.

But perhaps it’s the irrational drive of competition that could push consumers to save energy. Adrian Tuck, CEO of Tendril, another energy monitoring startup, said that his company has found that people who know how much electricity the Joneses consume try to keep up by driving their usage down.

“The most potent driver of change is beating your neighbors,” Tuck told Wired.com.

These applications are the beginnings of the new world Clive Thompson described about a year ago in which energy conservation isn’t just visible, it’s a public point of pride (or shame).

“Imagine if your daily consumption were part of your Facebook page — and broadcast to your friends by RSS feed,” he wrote. “You’d work harder to conserve so you don’t look like a jackass in front of your peers.”

For now, though, energy monitoring services are probably a year or two away from your desktop.

“From what the meter manufacturers say, the volumes will ramp up next year,” Greenbox’s Smith said. “That’s going to work out pretty good for us. If it was happening right now at this moment, we’d feel a little bit behind. We’re not quite ready.”

Images. 1, 3, 4: Screenshots from Greenbox. 2. Chart from EEI Data.

50 billion machines worldwide that can be connected together right now!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

From the home, to the car, to your health, consumer applications of machine-to-machine technology are growing, and they’re slowly, but surely, changing the way we live.

There are more than 50 billion machines worldwide that can be connected using M2M (machine-to-machine) communications. From robots in manufacturing plants to trucks transporting fresh produce to refrigerators in consumer kitchens, billions of machines have data that’s just waiting to be tapped.

With such large market potential, the number of ways people and companies are using M2M today and the number of ways they will likely use M2M in the future is vast. Yet, in the current marketplace, much of the dialogue on how M2M can be applied focuses on commercial applications: how fleet managers use telematics solutions for fuel efficiency, how big-box retailers use RFID (radio frequency identification) to manage inventory levels, and how manufacturers can create new revenue streams with smart services, among others.

But of the billions of machines in the world today, some undoubtedly belong to the consumer, not the enterprise, leaving many asking: Where does the everyday Joe Smith of the world fit into the (M2M) system integration equation?

The answer to that question is tied to how M2M is impacting everyday life: It is in our home alarms it’s in our cars, and it’s even being used to monitor our vital signs.

Machine-to-machine technology is at the forefront of a “silent revolution,” a subtle, but influential transformation in which people, devices, and systems are becoming more connected.

And nowhere is this revolution happening more “silently” than among everyday consumers. It’s not so much that the technology isn’t available (because it is), or that it doesn’t work (because it does). The reason this revolution is happening “silently” is most people don’t even know it’s happening and sometimes don’t even know it’s there.

Unlike many of today’s commercial markets, the conversations with consumers about M2M products and services rarely broach the technological ins and outs of the solution. In fact, it’s probably unusual if consumers even know they are using M2M. Simply put, consumers don’t want to know how the technology works they simply want to know what it can do and that the technology will deliver on its promise.

And as such, system integration has unassumingly manipulated its way into consumers’ homes, cars, and even medical devices, taking advantage of the progress made in analogous areas in the commercial market.

“Consumer applications are a maturation of other solutions that have been put in place previously for the enterprise space. (The solutions) have proven that the technology does work,” says Dean Fledderjohn, general manager, Kyocera Wireless Corp., www.kyocera-wireless.com/m2m-business, San Diego, Calif.

IN THE HOME
When it comes to consumer applications of machine-to-machine technology, one of the areas technology providers are successfully penetrating is the home. M2M is making its mark in home-centric applications such as automated home technology systems and consumer energy-management solutions, but according to Peter Fowler, president, Cinterion Wireless Modules North America, www.cinterion.com, Issaquah, Wash., alarms have become the gateway into the North American home for M2M.

He believes this technology brings an ease-of-use factor to home security. With cellular M2M becoming more widely adopted for many of today’s new residential security alarms, installations are much easier to do.

“Rather than having to go in the old way and cut a hole in the wall and fish out a telephone line that would make an emergency call, now (installers) can simply activate a SIM (subscriber identity module) and have the customer live within a few hours of them agreeing that they want their home monitored,” explains Fowler.

An added bonus of using cellular is extra reliability. Since the alarm is not connected to a wired phone line, burglars cannot disable the alarm by simply cutting the telephone connection.

In addition, M2M has done more than improve on existing security technologies it has also helped bring security alarms to a new level, giving consumers unprecedented control of their security settings.

“What consumers want is the ability to be notified, to be proactively engaged, and to change the setting on their security systems,” explains Brent Barrs, vice president North American sales, Enfora Inc., www.enfora.com, Richardson, Texas. “They desire to (have the ability) to log in and check the status of the various sensors associated with the system.”

According to Barrs, the days are gone when consumers settle for notifications from a call center. “They don’t want to wait to receive that phone call from the call center alarming them that (an alarm went off) at the house. They like the ability to also receive realtime SMS (short-message service) notifications and email notifications, and consumers are very savvy (since) they have the portable devices that allow them to be comfortable with checking and changing these systems.”

One company providing this level of control to consumers is Alarm.com, www.alarm.com, Tysons Center, Va. Using communication modules from Enfora and sensors and security panels from GE Security Inc., www.gesecurity.com, Bradenton, Fla., Alarm.com offers a wide array of remote monitoring and control capabilities that extend its consumer security offerings into what could more accurately be described as home awareness systems in which security is just one facet of the solution.

“(In the past), most people had residential security systems that were useful only when the systems were turned on, in an armed state,” explains Mary Knebel, vice president of marketing, Alarm.com. Because most people don’t arm their security systems on a daily basis, Knebel adds, the system only delivers value once or twice a month when the homeowner arms the system.

Alarm.com’s solutions combine traditional security alarm capabilities with remote monitoring and control capabilities. Sensors installed throughout a home allow a number of different events, including the opening and closing of doors and windows and whether or not children arrive home from school on time, to be monitored. Homeowners can also use the system to remotely control their homes through a Web interface, performing tasks such as adjusting the temperature of their HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) systems.

“Alarm.com enables the consumer to know what is (occurring) on the property even if the security alarm is in a disarmed state, giving value on a daily basis versus just once or twice a month,” explains Knebel.

Interest in these types of systems is gaining momentum. According to Knebel, when the company entered the market at the end of 2003, Alarm.com worked with only a handful of dealers. Now, she says Alarm.com has a network of more than 900 dealers.

Alarm.com’s solutions are an extension of what many classify as automated home technology systems, an area previously relegated to only the very wealthy.

“Compared to five years ago, (automated home technology) has grown quite dramatically,” says Bob Gohn, vice president of marketing, Ember Corp., www.ember.com, Boston, Mass. “The home automation systems that were traditionally reserved for the rich and famous … have really come down in price and have gotten more popular,” he adds.

Gohn points out this trend doesn’t mean that each and every home will have a home automation system, but he does see home automation moving downstream from the top 0.1% of homes to a wider base.

Analysts echo Gohn’s observations. According to a new report from ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, Oyster Bay, N.Y., shipments of automated home technology systems are expected to increase to four million by 2013, up from the 237,000 shipped in 2007.

POWER MANAGEMENT
While security systems are the gateway to North American homes, that’s not the case in Europe and other parts of the world. “(Home security) alarms is a growing business in Europe, but it’s more focused on businesses,” says Fowler. “Alarms that are being developed by U.S. companies like Honeywell (are) being sold in Dubai and Europe, but the focus in those markets tends to be on commercial buildings more so than homes.”

So, how is M2M entering homes abroad? Through intelligent metering, Fowler says.

With government regulation pushing widespread adoption of AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) in Europe, and other parts of the world such as Canada, intelligent meters are becoming more commonplace, and as a result, M2M has entered the home in much larger numbers throughout regions with more pervasive intelligent metering.

In North America, where intelligent metering is gaining traction, but has yet to be government mandated on a large scale, only 16% of all M2M connections are home centric, according to ABI Research. In comparison, that figure rises to 43% for Europe, and for regions like Scandinavia and Italy, where regulatory-inspired smart-metering projects began some years ago, the percentage of home-based M2M connections stands at more than 65%.

Traditionally, smart metering solutions were installed with the intention of helping utilities improve their operations, but with the advent of AMI, or the two-way communication between the home and the utility, smart metering is now part of energy-management consumer applications. And the proliferation of AMI infrastructure couldn’t come at a better time.

“All of our ears are greatly attuned to the idea of managing energy or controlling energy and minimizing costs,” says Gohn.

With an AMI infrastructure in place, consumers can use in-home displays to monitor their realtime energy use, receive information on pricing during peak events, and adjust energy consumption levels in response.

“AMI … now allows the consumer to have the information and to have the ability to opt in to various control mechanisms so that they can modulate their use,” explains Gohn. He adds one of the opt-in programs that consumers can agree to participate is one in which energy loads are controlled by the utility. For example, a homeowner gives the utility permission to raise the setting on the home’s HVAC system by several degrees during a peak event, thereby reducing the energy consumption for that home.

Gohn points out, “That’s really where the most exciting penetration for this technology will be in the homes because it won’t be just (in) the top 1% or 2% of homes it’s going to be rolled out for entire regions.”

IN THE CAR
Like the home, the consumer vehicle has garnered a lot of attention from the M2M community. Some of the most notable consumer-focused automotive M2M applications involve auto insurance, vehicle-tracking as part of loan terms for borrowers with bad credit and after-market service.

What these three applications have in common is their impact on the consumer wallet. “With (consumers) in particular, it’s all about the wallet. The wallet is on everyone’s mind right now,” explains Kyocera’s Fledderjohn.

With PAYD (pay-as-you-drive) insurance, consumers save money on their auto insurance if they drive less. For consumers with bad credit, agreeing to have a vehicle tracking device may be the only way to obtain a car loan with a reasonable interest rate. And when it comes to fuel prices, anything that helps ensure the fuel efficiency of a car—such as telematics offerings that catch potential mileage-impacting mechanical problems—is appealing to the consumer.

Using M2M to improve vehicle performance has been prevalent in commercial markets for quite some time, but as drivers continue to feel the pinch at the pump, these applications certainly captured consumer attention.

“It started out with fleets, but the individual consumers are obviously worried about the same things because they’re (also experiencing) the higher costs of fuel,” says Shawn Aleman, vice president business development, Xirgo Technologies LLC, www.xirgotech.com, Camarillo, Calif.

In the North American vehicle telematics market, OnStar has led the pack, dominating consumer marketshare for telematics offerings in the U.S. According to OnStar, it had 2.5 million subscribers at the end of 2003, and the company expects to have more than 5.8 million subscribers by the end of this year. If OnStar meets the projection, it will have experienced a 130% increase in its subscriber base during a five-year period.

“What was really successful in the U.S. was the business model,” says Ralf Hug, vice president product management and marketing, Airbiquity, www.airbiquity.com, Seattle, Wash., regarding OnStar’s success in the U.S. market. He points out carmakers in this market decided to put this equipment in as many vehicles as possible, while in comparison Europe chose to only offer it as an option.

While the telematics market continues to gain significant marketshare, there are still some cost factors that have to be sorted out in order to meet consumers’ expectations. Aleman explains, “The end customer is not concerned much about the technology rather than overall cost of ownership. … The hardware costs have come down quite a bit during the last couple years. But I don’t think the network costs (of communicating vehicle data) have come down as much. The recurring cost is what I believe is preventing a lot of consumers from adopting the technology.”

FOR YOUR HEALTH
Another area in which M2M has made significant inroads into the consumer world is healthcare. According to a report released earlier this year from ON World, www.onworld.com, San Diego, Calif., the use of wireless sensor networks—one of the key enabling technologies for M2M solutions—is growing within the healthcare industry, and the technology could save the healthcare industry $25 billion in 2012 by reducing hospitalizations and extending independent living for seniors.

Analysts say two of the most promising WSN (wireless sensor networking) healthcare solutions are AAL (ambient assisted living) and BSNs (body sensor networks), both of which are used directly by consumers.

AAL solutions give the elderly the ability to live independently longer. Using a network of sensors placed throughout the person’s home, caregivers and family members can remotely monitor the activity (and inactivity) of the person throughout the day to ensure his or her safety and well-being.

CMI (Community Management Initiative Inc.), www.simplyhome-cmi.com, Green Bay, Wis., is one company that provides AAL solutions. Its SimplyHome offering, which is based on technology from Alarm.com, uses a network of sensors, including motion detectors, door/window contacts, and a panic pendant, to keep caregivers informed on what’s happening in an elderly person’s home.

The system is directly shipped to the consumer, and the company says customers can set up the system in 20 minutes. Wireless sensors are placed throughout the home, and they communicate to a central base station that’s either placed on a counter or mounted to the wall. The base station then sends the information wirelessly to a central processing center.

The caregiver manages the “rules” for the system, such as the times of the day the front door should not be opened, through the Web. If the event occurs, an email or text message is sent to a designated contact person.

BSNs, on the other hand, are based on wearable or implantable devices that can sense vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, or blood glucose levels. In the past, when a patient suffered from a heart attack or other abnormal occurrence, healthcare providers had to depend on symptoms conveyed by the patient and/or results from tests conducted after the fact in order to prescribe the right treatment.

BSNs give nurses and doctors the ability to access near-realtime data on vital signs, such as abnormal fluctuations in heart rate or blood glucose levels, as the event is happening or immediately following the event. In turn, consumers can better manage their own health and possibly reduce hospitalizations and doctor visits.

Moreover, remote healthcare monitoring solutions can also mean dollar savings for the consumer. Enfora’s Barrs calls attention to the example of glucose monitoring.

Unlike in the past when patients took glucose readings, but didn’t necessarily pass that data on to their doctor or other healthcare organization, with M2M-enabled devices, “those measurements are transmitted to a datacenter in realtime,” explains Barrs. He adds, “The benefits are Medicare, Medicaid, and other organizations steeply discount diabetic drugs and other types of precautionary pharmaceuticals from the standpoint that they are hoping they’re eliminating a hospital visit by taking precautionary care with the patients.”

Without these M2M-enabled medical devices, healthcare organizations simply had no way to confirm the patient was following the prescribed treatment plan.

“By having this availability to pass this data and have statistical information to them in realtime, they have the ability to continue discounting (prescriptions for) those folks that are managing their conditions by taking the discounted drugs and by taking those readings in a timely manner,” explains Barrs.

While BSNs and other remote monitoring technologies are far from being pervasive tools in today’s healthcare industry, interest is definitely growing.

According to Medtronic Inc., www.medtronic.com, Minneapolis, Minn., a provider of remote cardiac monitoring solutions, the number of consumers using its technology has grown significantly during the past several years. The company says today nearly 290,000 patients and 2,600 clinics use its remote monitoring technology, compared to the 50,000 patients and 550 clinics that were using the technology three years ago.

Moreover, Enfora is observing significant growth in M2M applications for the healthcare industry. According to Barrs, Enfora believes the volume of rollouts it will ship for healthcare applications in 2009 will likely match the number of those it will ship for security applications, which is currently Enfora’s top consumer M2M market.

INNOVATION TO COME
So, what can everyday Joe Smith expect from the M2M industry in the coming years? While the answer is not cut and dry, the possibilities are certainly endless.

Greg Jones, vice president marketing and business development, Sensorlogic, www.sensorlogic.com, Addison, Texas, says the consumer market is ready for M2M. Now, it’s just a matter of educating the SMBs (small-to-midsize businesses) and entrepreneurs that serve the consumer market that M2M technology is available at a reasonable price point.

“Our biggest issue right now is that people don’t know it’s possible (to get these consumer applications to market),” he explains. “We have, as an industry, a marketing challenge to get the word out that this stuff is doable. A lot of people are doing it today. It can be done cost effectively. And you can actually launch products fairly quickly.”

Jones adds, “As consumer apps start to really roll into the market, that’s also going to help raise market awareness about what might be possible. So, it could potentially (create) a snowball effect.”

Integration

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Integration – “a combination of parts or objects that work together well”

This is our commitment to our customers – to provide an automation system that works well, to do this we take the best components and put them together is such a way that they do.

They work to reduce the cost of operation of buildings. They do this by being simple and easy to use.

Currently it is estimated that 70% of buildings in the UK have a  “Building Management System” – of this 70% very few are being used effectively, and most are only applied to the boiler system.

A system that is not being used effectively is contributing to the cost of operating a building – its contributing to climate change – not helping to protect the climate – not helping reduce costs.

Where systems are not being used effectively they might as well not be there at all.

They are not being used effectively because most are impossible to use on a day to day basis, having plantroom based unfriendly feature starved screens, and having no control of other services in a building, such as air conditioning, or lighting.

An automation system brings control out of the plantroom and puts it on the desktops of those who need it, at low cost. It brings control of services down to an individual room – optimising each room space as a single entity, controlling air conditioning, heating, lighting level, solar shading and interacting with room occupants if required.

Only in this way can air conditioning be inhibited from operation when a window is open, lighting maintained at constant lux levels, individual radiators switched off automatically and solar shading operated to prevent unwanted heat gains.

This is automation in action – the old “BMS” is so rooted in the plantroom, so unfriendly, so inflexible, and so impossible to provide a sensible Return on Investment.

Welsh Govt unveils ‘green standards’ for new build

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

 The Welsh Assembly has today issued increased environmental standards for new buildings in an attempt to combat climate change.

From September, new homes will have to score at least three stars out of six under the Code for Sustainable Homes. The rule should cut carbon emissions from new homes by more than 30 per cent, the government said.

Builders will also have to use more sustainable materials in construction.

In addition, non-domestic buildings will be expected to meet the BREEM ‘very good’ standard as a minimum.

Environment minister Jane Davidson said: “I am determined to use the planning system to move towards zero carbon buildings.”

The move makes Wales the first UK nation to set minimum standards for sustainable buildings through the planning system.

This will change the way developers approach future construction. Professional services will now be require to be employed to achieve this certification and documentation.

David Slade – about me

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Resume:

I commenced work as an apprentice electrician, and have gone on over the last 25 years to hold senior design and management positions working within multinational and SME companies, within Building Services built environment, with a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience, in tacking major capital projects with confidence. I have worked on a vast range of design solutions for different industries and uses.

To be one of the best you need to understand the project communications,  design responsibilities and client confidentiality, when working with clients on internationally-known projects, with curious media interests looking for a story.

Unusually for a engineer trained person. I’ve also had has experience for client’s offering  business development, taking manufacturing products and other professional services to market.

That’s without the cause related charity work.

Known as the ‘Third sector’ – That another different world again.

This is a major clash of mind sets, as they don’t normally fully understand each other.

For the engineer:

Works with facts, engineering physics, rules & regulations, building codes and regulations, use standards to determine what to select and use. Prove with calculations, and designed so that it can be constructed by others.

Computer: Intel computer with Microsoft software: Word, excel, Autocad and other specialist software being used.

Output: drawings, reports, specifications……..For a tender issue – Box or CD full of paper work (A4, A3, A0) bound / loose for copying by others.

Advertising:

For advertising it’s generally about branding and a single message to market, using as little amount of words and images, as possible to communicate this to the intended customer.

Designer: Images, phase, image, look and feel.

Computer:  Apple G5 – (What other computer’s could my client be using then? Intel whats that?)

Output: Dependent on output media: One image, tag line or a poster.

The effort is getting to this delivery point.

Marketing is different it’s about planning and ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. This definition covers just about every aspect of business, from what you pay for your raw materials, right through to how you make, price, distribute, advertise and sell the ‘look and feel’ of the product / service.

Designers and publishers:  Apple G5

Management: G5 / Intel computers

I’m also internationally known for my developed in Integrated Information Technology (IIT) design approach solutions.

I’m regularly requested to present these ideas at various seminar / leadership forums and workshops internationally, including CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forums, relating to leading edge IIT solutions and business opportunities, risks and rewards. Introduced and defined “Lifetime Freedom Homes” to the industry.

Welcome to my world

David