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Greater Detroit Area Transit Agency Turns to Digi to Monitor Bus Fleet

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Suburban Mobility Authority for Rapid Transit Authority (SMART), a transit agency in the Greater Detroit Area, was faced with the realization that their automatic vehicle location (AVL) system was old, slow and inefficient.

SmartSMART operates over 200 buses for over 23 hours every day. Monitoring these vehicles is essential to daily operations. But with 20-year-old infrastructure, the AVL was just not cutting it. SMART wanted more reporting and real-time information that they could share with their riders.

SMART decided to switch to cellular communication with voice over IP (VoIP). To implement this they decided to work with Clever Devices, a leading provider of communications and technology solutions. The centerpiece of Clever Devices’ solution was the Digi TransPort WR44 R cellular router.

The Digi TransPort WR44 R is purpose-made for transit agencies and authorities that need reliable communications for such things as security video, fare collection, dispatch, passenger Wi-Fi, and others.

SMART’s new cellular AVL has had a profound impact. Data and metrics that were never before available are already being used to anticipate vehicle breakdowns, expedite repairs, and minimize downtime. Additionally, Passengers are now able to text a number posted at their bus stop to receive real-time data from SMART about bus ETAs. This service is already receiving more than 10,000 queries per month.

Most importantly, the agency is getting a great ROI. SMART is saving at least $70,000 per year in hard costs with the Digi-based solution. In soft costs it is estimated that SMART may be saving anywhere from an additional $150,000 to $200,000.

Read more about how SMART saves more than $70,000 per year with Internet of Things technology here >>

What Are the Differences Between DigiMesh® and ZigBee® Mesh?

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Mesh networking is a powerful way to route data over an RF network. Range is extended by allowing data to hop node to node and reliability and resiliency is increased by “self-healing,” or the ability to create alternate paths when one node fails or a connection is lost.

One popular mesh networking protocol is ZigBee®, which is specifically designed for low-data rate, low-power applications. Digi offers several products based on the ZigBee protocol. Additionally, Digi has developed a similar mesh protocol named DigiMesh®. Both ZigBee and DigiMesh offer unique advantages important to different applications. The following chart highlights these differences:

ZigBee® Mesh DigiMesh®
Node types and their benefits Multiple: Coordinators, Routers, End Devices. End devices can sometimes be less expensive because of reduced functionality. Single: One homogeneous node type, with more flexibility to expand the network. DigiMesh simplifies network setup and reliability in
environments where routers may come and go due to interference or damage.
Battery Deployed Networks Coordinators and routers must be mains powered All nodes are capable of battery operation and can sleep. No single point of failure associated with relying on a gateway or coordinator to
maintain time synchronization.
Over-the-air firmware updates Yes Yes
Range Most ZigBee devices have range of less than 2 miles (3.2 km) for each hop. Available on XBee SX with range of up to 40+ miles for each hop.
Frame payload and throughput Up to 80 bytes. Up to 256 bytes, depending on product. Improves throughput for applications that send larger blocks of data.
Supported frequencies and RF data rates Predominantly 2.4 GHz (250 kbps) 900 MHz (Up to 250 Kbps), 868MHz, 2.4 GHz (Up to 250 Kbps)
Security 128-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining. Both 128 and 256-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining.
Interoperability Potential for interoperability between vendors. Digi proprietary
Interference tolerance Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS). 900 MHz: Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). 2.4GHz: Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS).
Addressing Two layers. MAC address (64 bit) and Network address (16 bit). MAC address (64 bit) only.
Maintenance More sniffers and diagnostic tools available on market. Simpler addressing can help in diagnosing problems and setting up a network.

For more information on DigiMesh and Digi XBee click here.

Smart City Series: 4G LTE & Smart Infrastructure – Q&A Follow-Up

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If your inbox is anything like ours, it’s full of emails touting “Smart Cities” as the next big thing, but how are cities actually using cellular technology to run smarter?

In a recent webinar, Digi’s Cellular Product Manager, Andrew Lund, shared real-world examples of 3G/4G LTE in infrastructure applications, along with the challenges and questions that need to be answered to get there.

smart cities

Below, Andrew covers questions from the Q&A that we didn’t have time to answer live. If you’d like to watch the webinar recording and learn more about how Digi enables Smart Cities.

Miss the webinar? Here’s where you and watch the webinar recording and learn more about how Digi enables Smart Cities >>

What accelerated lifecycle testing have you performed on the Digi TransPort® WR31 and are you able to share your results?
Specific test results are shared on a business case basis and only under NDA, but we can share that the WR31 was subjected to a Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) in line with our standard testing.  This testing is divided into three sections: temperature, vibration and a combination of vibration and temperature.

In each section, the Unit Under Test (UUT) is tested at the operational limit, the functional limit, and the destructive limit (if applicable). For the WR31, the functional limit was above the operating limit, meaning it functioned above and beyond the threshold we expected it to.

Who does the integration with energy meters / HVAC controllers ? Does Digi do that type of integration or is it some system integrators who are Digi partners who are responsible for integration?
Both options are available, depending on the customer and the goals. In cases where, for example, an OEM wants to add cellular connectivity to their offer, Digi and its partner would work directly with the OEM. In cases where the customer is an end user, for example an city or state department, Digi would work with a system integrator or value added reseller to deliver the final solution.

Can you please share how the Garbage Collection and Emailing System was implemented?
This was done by Digi’s Wireless Design Services group. More details and a video can be found here.

Does the WR31 product have the relevant Australian compliance e.g. C-Tick, A-Tick?
Yes.

Are there plans to support LTE 700 Mhz Band 28 in future?
Yes—stay tuned for details.

Rather than offer a device management application for us to use, does Digi offer a managed service for its product set?
Digi has implemented bespoke managed services programs for customers, but it is more common for us to partner with 3rd party managed services companies.

Does the WR31 support DNP3/IP?
Yes, the Digi TransPort WR line supports DNP3.

Does the WR31 has an LTE to NextG fallback?
Yes, the WR31 offers LTE with fallback to Telstra’s NextG (i.e. 850 MHz) network.

Do you have an example of an application in France?
We have many, many customer and applications in France—please contact your Digi rep or Digi partner for details.

WR31 is a nice product, but how to beat the competition having this form factor in the market for many years. E.g. Welotec, Moxa, etc.
“How to beat…” questions are a bit tough to answer in the abstract, but you can discuss specifics with your Digi rep or partner. Nor now, let’s focus on positioning the WR31 where it will have clear advantages. The WR31 is the best fit in applications that DO NEED: LTE, strong price/performance (i.e. affordable), Modbus/DNP3 bridging, and advanced security and routing (VPN, authentication, encryption, etc, and DON’T NEED vendor-specific object libraries or Modbus/DNP3 translation.

Is there a version that supports XBee® 868 LP?
No, currently there are no versions of the WR31 with an XBee radio, although that is an interesting concept, and worth discussing further with your Digi rep or partner.

Is it possible for the hardware to move from Cellular communications to a WiFi network and use this to communicate, WiFi becomes available – and if so – what product fits best?
The Digi TransPort WR44 supports Wi-Fi and 4G/4G LTE comms and is used in this kind of least cost routing scenario.

What is different in terms of speed in WR21 and WR31?
The WR21 and WR31 share the same WWAN radio and processor architecture—there is no material performance difference between the two.

Fog Computing in the Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Open Fog Consortium defines Fog Computing this way: “A system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control and networking anywhere along the continuum from Cloud to Things.” In his recent Fog Computing report, Aapo Markkanen at Machina Research puts Digi in this category. He says, “Digi is well placed to a make a play in fog computing, given its strong communications portfolio and additional capabilities [such as] Device Cloud and device management.” We couldn’t agree more!

Intelligence on the edge of the network allows our customers to store, shape and translate machine and sensor data to maximize connections from the device to the cloud. Digi Device Cloud enables our customers to bring enterprise routing features to the edge of their networks enhancing security, storage, and redundancy.

The concept of Fog Computing accurately describes the way our customers are managing mission critical applications across multiple wireless protocols making it easier to configure, deploy and manage devices on the edge of their networks.

Click here to learn more about Digi Device Cloud >>

Flying Eye Relies on Digi’s XBee for Drone Connectivity and Parachute Deployment

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France-based Flying Eye has become one of the high-performance drone industry’s emerging leaders. Demand for drones has skyrocketed in recent years and as demand has increased, the functions of drones have become increasingly varied. Flying Eye drones are used to spray crops, capture photographs and videos of remote destinations, and extend the reach of their customers. With the use of drones, in some cases, in densely populated areas, safety is a top priority for Flying Eye.

To ensure a high standard of safety, Flying Eye incorporated Digi’s XBee® RF modules into their drones.

The drones are built with parachutes to be deployed in the event of flight disruption or control failure. It protects the drone from crashing, as well as any people or property that might be in the drone’s flight path. The drone operator’s connection has two separate RF links, one of which is devoted solely to the emergency parachute. The XBee RF module is used to control the two separate radio links.

Flying Eye

The reliability, range, and cost effectiveness of the XBee RF module were all major factors in Flying Eye’s decision to use them in their drones. Not only is Flying Eye able to meet strict regulatory requirements, but their customers’ minds are put at ease by the safety features of the product. With Flying Eye’s drones being used to capture this year’s Euro Cup, and thanks to Digi, the safety of these drones can be guaranteed in packed stadiums across France.

Learn more and check out Flying Eye in action in video here >>

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Introducing the XBee SX Module

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Welcome the latest addition to the XBee® family, the XBee SX! This is truly the muscle module of the XBee ecosystem. Don’t let the standard XBee surface mount form factor fool you, it packs a punch with 1-watt of output power. It’s a perfect embedded wireless solution for OEMs that depend on reliable wireless communication.

Some of the key specs you’ll want to know:

  • Maximum 1-Watt Output Power
  • 256-bit AES Encryption
  • DigiMesh Protocol

Just like every other XBee, it’s easy to use and configure with the popular software tool, XCTU. Here is XBee Product Manager, Matt Dunsmore, introducing the brand new module:

Want more details? Click here and visit the XBee SX product page.

Olsbergs Uses XBee to Make Construction Sites Safer

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Olsbergs is a leading manufacturer of electro-hydraulic control systems for cranes. Olsbergs was looking to improve efficiency and safety for construction crane companies and crane operators. They wanted to turn to radio remote-controlled hydraulics. They needed a partner that would meet ETSI standards, as well as the high standards of their own company.

Digi was the company that they turned to. Olsbergs needed a radio module that would be risk-free and precise. With so many of their trucks being used in cities and other populated areas, risk had to be minimized as much as possible. It would have to utilize the entire ISM band to enable more channels and provide more security. The solution was the XBee 868 Low-Power RF module for Europe.

With their new remote controlled hydraulics, truck cranes which previously required two operators, a spotter and a driver, now only require one. With Digi’s help, Olsbergs has improved safety, accuracy, and reliability for crane operators, while reducing costs and saving money for construction companies.

See the full story and video >>

Meet Thread: The Powerful, New Tool for Wireless M2M Networking

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Building wireless IoT networks for M2M applications has always been challenging. Designers must balance security, economy, low power consumption, and flexibility to meet various networking topologies. But their jobs should be easier thanks to the release of Thread 1.0.

Thread is an IPv6-based, mesh networking protocol for building effective consumer and commercial M2M applications. It uses low-cost, low-power 802.15.4 chipsets and features banking-class, AES security. Its mesh capabilities offer routing efficiencies and redundancy, eliminating single points of failure. Moreover, interoperability with popular application layer standards like ZigBee provides forward compatibility.

Discover how Thread offers simple, resilient technology to address burgeoning M2M needs at Thread Technical Brief. You’ll be introduced to the promise of this wireless standard to help realize tomorrow’s M2M connectivity.

Get the technical brief >>

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