ABB Wireless

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Private or Public Networks for Smart Grids and Smart Cities?

Recently, there have been heated debates on the merits (and demerits) of private and public networks in smart grids. Here at Tropos, we believe that it doesn’t have to be strictly one or the other, and that public networks have a role to play in augmenting private networks. Narasimha Chari, co-founder and CTO of Tropos Networks, wrote an article which was published on Earth2Tech on August 22 detailing this analysis and rationale. Read it here -- let us know what you think!

Essentially, there are 7 key factors for utilities and cities to consider when building their communications network: Availability, survivability, coverage, latency, security, life cycle and control. What we did was a comparative analysis of private and public networks measuring them against each factor, and citing other research as well as real life examples. In the end, we came to the conclusion that although utilities mostly prefer building their own private networks, there will still be a role for public networks to play. Our sentiment is echosed by a report from Pike Research, which stated that "Generally, grid applications with strict performance requirements, high reliability requirements, or high cost sensitivity tend toward utility-owned (private) and operated infrastructure. Other applications, such as AMI backhaul applications, will often use public infrastructure."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Natural Gas Explosion Rocks LA - Tropos Stays Up Thru Blackout

Recently local and national news covered a massive natural gas explosion that destroyed a building, killed one man and caused severe injuries to another. The explosion occurred in a south Los Angeles industrial area and appears to have been the result of a failed attempt to tamper with a gas meter. One of the video cameras in the area that is connected to a Tropos network recorded the explosion. As the incident is under investigation, the actual video footage has not been released.

Susan Levi, director for SLAIT BID (South Los Angeles Industrial Tract – Business Improvement District), the organization that owns and operates the network and video security monitoring for the industrial area stated, “the video footage of the explosion and its after effects is providing the critical information needed for the investigation by LAPD.”

As a result of the explosion, power was down in the area however, the Tropos network, remained operational as each node had battery backup. This allowed the video camera to capture the actual explosion as well as all the aftermath activities.

The Tropos network covers over 2 square miles and supports 64 video cameras, and was commissioned by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) several years ago, and ownership was transferred to SLAIT BID (South Los Angeles Industrial Tract – Business Improvement District for operations. SLAIT BID hired a full-time security monitoring company that monitors and provides security for the SLAIT tract. SmartWave Technologies manages the Tropos and CCTV network for SLAIT BID. SmartWave is a privately held firm that provides the planning, design, integration of wireless neworks, along with the applications that use the network -- such as the video surveillance network in Los Angeles.

For more information about the explosion, check out the LA Times article.