ViPiMo pressure sensor
Technical Update (NB: will be necessary to have some background info on the project)
The project is at the tail end of the beta version testing and so far we have been able to do the following:-
-Successfully integrate and test low cost wireless water flow meter, Pressure and Level Sensors into WaSHMIS using springnodes developed by partner Springuin.nl
-Successfully support low cost wireless temperature and door sensors testing as being piloted by FlowerWatch
-Develop and test Upande’s own built low cost wireless logger (ViPiMo.net nodes)
In the previously GSMA funded WaSHMIS (version 1.0), seed funding went to the development of picoBRCK. The development and testing of this new product proved to come with a fair share of challenges. In order to have more control of WaSHMIS’ full value proposition (both software AND hardware), we needed to either buy in some more technology or develop something inhouse. We decided to try both.
A different wireless technology was therefore chosen for use by the loggers which use little power and can cover a wide range. We started by investing in the development of Springnodes (Springuin.nl). These have already proven to work much more reliably than the picoBRCK units, though do depend on a SIM powered gateway to harvest data and pass pulse signals on to the WaSHMIS servers (via ViPiMo.net servers). Given that Springnodes are a new product, not yet produced in large numbers, the cost per unit is still relatively high. In parallel, we have also developed our own wireless electronics board. It has the advantage of being cheaper than the Springnodes, though less advanced in terms of functionality and with less mature embedded software. Though the expectation is that these 2 will be able to operate fully alongside one another.
Springnodes are ready for deployment for water flow, water pressure and water level sensors. We have a tentative order from a well established Water Service Provider already.
ViPiMo.net nodes are also being finalised in a batch of 20, and are currently being tested in Upande’s field lab with water flow sensors and power usage. Though in the end they will also support pressure and level sensors, amongst a range of others.
-Initial high cost of development of Springnodes
-Initial high cost of gateways
-High cost of infrastructure for big deployments
-Getting clarity on unlicensed wireless spectrum to use with wireless nodes
-Integrating different wireless technologies into one project
-Finalize component mounting and embedded software coding of Upande’s ViPiMo.net nodes
-Piloting Springnodes in the field (pressure and flow) for Dreampipe II project
-Testing cheaper single band gateways
-Testing existing IoT frameworks for quicker deployments to other verticals (aquaculture and flower industry)
-Finalising ViPiMo.net loggers for wide range of verticals
-Developing a native Android app
-Pilot larger scale network infrastructure with Mobile Network Operator (MNO)
It has been a busy season as we tested out the products with the different end goals in mind. In the process, we have been able to:-
1. Sell WaSHMIS/ViPiMo.net to a leading water company on a 2 year contract
2. Setup WaSHMIS/ViPiMo.net pilot with 2 strategically chosen water companies
3. A partnership with a MNO on using their infrastructure, which will help address coverage issues
4. Get into the Dreampipe Challenge:
Upande received a cash prize from DFID’s Dreampipe Challenge. The grant focuses on new and innovative ways that will attract non traditional sources of funding to assist Water Utilities in tackling NRW. The main selling point is the ViPiMo.net technology that reduces capital costs and guarantees increased revenues that would make water companies attractive to financial institutions.
The challenge gives us insight and preparation into the financial and business aspects of our technical solution.
Initially the ViPiMo.net innovation was geared towards the water sector, but other stakeholders have liked the idea and are working with Upande to explore verticals with the innovation. Upande is now working with Farm Africa to monitor fish farming. Another client, FlowerWatch has been working with us to offer affordable solutions in monitoring cold chain optimisation in Kenya’s largest export product: flowers. We have done tests with water quality sensors, soil moisture, weather stations, etc.
With a positive outlook within other sectors, Upande has explored and designed monitoring of electricity consumption. This would open up the model to a larger client base especially in urban areas.