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How to Meet Critical Infrastructure Requirements with Cellular Devices

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Critical infrastructure operations–whether it be an electrical substation, wastewater treatment plant, or traffic control center–are relying more and more on networked assets like sensors and control switches. But, the introduction of connected devices also raises security risks. Since these systems control services both businesses and consumers heavily depend upon, regulations are in place to ensure our infrastructure remains in working order and secure from threats.

Much like the laws you abide by while driving such as wearing your seatbelt, staying within the speed limit, etc., utility providers connecting assets with cellular LTE must follow certain standards and protocols to ensure security and reliability. In North America, these rules and standards are referred to as North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection or more conveniently as NERC-CIP. For our friends in Europe, the standard is called “European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection” or EPCIP for short.

What makes a network solution NERC-CIP compliant? In this video, Brad Cole, Device Cloud Product Manager, walks through the steps many of our utility customers take in order to deploy secure and connected critical infrastructure.

In short, critical infrastructure operators must comply with these reliability standards–or face large penalties. The mandatory Reliability Standards include CIP standards 001 through 009 (see below), which address the security of cyber assets essential to the reliable operation of the electric grid.

  • CIP-001: Covers sabotage reporting;
  • CIP-002: Requires the identification and documentation of the Critical Cyber Assets associated with the Critical Assets that support the reliable operation of the Bulk Electric System;
  • CIP-003: Requires that responsible entities have minimum security management controls in place to protect Critical Cyber Assets;
  • CIP-004: Requires that personnel with authorized cyber or unescorted physical access to Critical Cyber Assets, including contractors and service vendors, have an appropriate level of personnel risk assessment, training, and security awareness;
  • CIP-005: Requires the identification and protection of the Electronic Security Perimeters inside which all Critical Cyber Assets reside, as well as all access points on the perimeter;
  • CIP-006: Addresses implementation of a physical security program for the protection of Critical Cyber Assets;
  • CIP-007: Requires responsible entities to define methods, processes, and procedures for securing those systems determined to be Critical Cyber Assets, as well as the other (non-critical) Cyber Assets within the Electronic Security Perimeters;
  • CIP-008: Ensures the identification, classification, response, and reporting of cybersecurity incidents related to Critical Cyber Assets; and
  • CIP-009: Ensures that recovery plans are put in place for Critical Cyber Assets and that these plans follow established business continuity and disaster recovery techniques and practices.

The Digi TransPort WR31 comes with features and configuration options to simplify securing critical infrastructure assets like electric and gas meters or traffic control cameras. The Digital I/O can address physical security concerns and Remote Manager will log user information and even device changes. Click here to learn more about the Digi TransPort WR31 and how utility provides are using it to connect critical infrastructure.

Customer Showcase: Wireless Devices Around the World Rely on Digi

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Every day Digi works with customers around the world to deploy connected solutions that businesses rely on. From the ability to monitor device health to using data to make more informed decisions-connected devices are modernizing business operations. Here are a few of the many companies we are proud to work with.powerowners

PowerOwners | Solar Energy

How do solar energy providers  measure the effectiveness of their solar panel deployments? You’ll probably get a wide variety of answers depending on who you ask. PowerOwners saw this inconsistency in the solar industry as an opportunity to create a standard benchmark to measure the performance of solar assets.

The centerpiece of the system is the Deno Smart Sensor. The sensor measures sunlight and temperature to simulate an energy benchmark. It’s placed alongside solar panels, the Deno Smart Sensor is pictured to the right. Data is transmitted wirelessly by a Digi XBee PRO 900HP and collected within Digi Device Cloud. This service replaces the commonly used weather stations, which were difficult to deploy and provided inconsistent data. Read the full story here.

Powermat | Wireless Charging

powermatThere are few things more frustrating than a dead phone battery. Almost everyone relies on their smartphone to get through the day-whether it’s for business or entertainment.

Powermat developed a creative solution that involves wireless charging and ZigBee technology. Their mission? Ensure that smartphone users never have to worry about where keeping their device charged. It’s easy to use, requires no cables or outlets, and gives businesses a service to offer to their customers. Powermat is able to manage their global deployment of charging stations via the cloud since each charging network is IP-enabled with an XBee Gateway.

The Powermat stations can be found at large retail chains like Starbucks, a select number of universities, and airport terminals. Users can install the Powermat app on their phone so they can locate the most convenient location for their next charge. Learn more about the Powermat service here.

MicroPower Technologies | Remote Video Security Systems

css-inline-solveilUtility providers often have assets widely distributed across remote areas. Ensuring security of substations or monitoring weather conditions can be a costly endeavor. And, when millions rely on your company for power, an outage can have large consequences. MicroPower works with utilities to create an easy to install solution that gives energy providers the ability to ensure their customers have reliable power. A means to remotely monitor their sites also allows for faster troubleshooting and fewer unnecessary maintenance visits.

MicroPower Technologies’ solar powered video system is made possible by the Digi TransPort WR21. The wireless cellular router is easy to install and provides the connection needed to stream video to a central database that can be accessed by network operators. Click here to read more about this solution.

Read more about how Digi customers are inventing new business models and changing their respective industries, visit our customer success page.

 

The Next Chapter in the Digi Story: Connect with Confidence

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This year represents a transformational moment for Digi as a company. We celebrated our 30th birthday. We have a new CEO. We’ve made a new acquisition and have brought on customers that represent some of the world’s most innovative companies.

Not too long ago, we held a retirement gathering for one of our long time employees. She’d been with the company for 28 years. She and others who have been here for the long haul started sharing stories about how things were in the early days. The stories were the perfect anecdote for how much things have changed over the years—over the decades. Those stories show how much Digi have evolved. But just as much as they show Digi’s evolution, the stories represent our powerful foundation of strength that we’re carrying into the future.


About 18 months ago, we set out to define how we would bring the meaning of that foundation and evolution to our customers, partners and the public in the clearest way possible. We asked ourselves: “how can our brand embody the sentiment of the stories our employees tell? How can our brand articulate why those innovative companies turn to Digi over others?”

To start, we went back to our roots. To our core value: listening. With 30 years of history and our diversity of experience, that’s what made sense. You can find Digi products in vast oil fields, intensive care units, crowded freeways, factory floors, and in retail stores on Black Friday. There are millions of devices deployed in the world, each with a critical task to perform. We needed to talk to the people who depend on those connections in order to articulate our mission best.

So, we conducted deep customer and partner interviews, employee surveys and spent time with our partners. All in all, we went through 100 interviews, 125 surveys and 10 workshops—more than 500 hours of listening.

It led us to a key finding: it’s time to modernize the Digi brand, but to emphasize not change, who we are at our core.

So, here we are today.

What is the new brand?

At its core, we have the brand promise, what you can expect from Digi, why would you choose Digi:

Digi works with you to solve mission-critical and business-critical machine communication challenges in the most demanding environments. You get proven, no-nonsense solutions that work, and keep working. With Digi, you can create, deploy and manage your M2M and IoT connections with confidence.

What we heard in those 500+ hours of research is that there’s something our customers get when they choose Digi: trust. They trust the people, the products and the company.

In short, we help you CONNECT WITH CONFIDENCE.Digi-Logo-Timeline

You’ll see “connect with confidence” as our new tagline and continued promise to you. You’ll also see the evolution of the Digi corporate logo. It represents exactly what the tagline does: sturdy, solid, reliable Digi. We’ve also gotten Digi out of the box and added a new shade of green—energetic and agile. We are company that our customers can connect with confidence, and we’re dedicated to doing so with fresh energy.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to play a role in this process. Listening to you has helped us get to a place where we’re truly sharing who we are with the world.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Gallery Update

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Farm Safety Wearable
The sweep auger motor plugs directly into an outlet on the receiving box. This receiving box and transmitter each have an XBee wireless transceiver inside. When the remote control is powered on, the first LED lights up. When the safety cord is connected, the second LED lights up. At this point, the sweep auger is off.

Connected Greenhouse
Using an Intel IoT Gateway, the wireless systems turns daily farming data into a more meaningful decision-making. Sensors for temperature, humidity, pH, and luminosity in the greenhouse pass the data to the local Galileo gateway. Galileo transmits data using XBee to an Atom processor-based gateway, and then uploads all the information to the cloud system.

Wireless Boat
This RC boat uses XBee for wireless control. The controller is fashioned from an old Air Hogs controller. An Arduino Pro mini is connected to the XBee, analog stick for steering, LEDs, and triggers buttons.

Do you have an XBee project you would like featured in the XBee Project Gallery? You can submit your own or someone else’s project here.

Overcoming Challenges in the Implementation of Remote Tank Monitoring

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In the energy industry, we all know that remote tank monitoring will greatly improve company’s bottom line and customer service. However, there may be a few challenges that prevent us from moving forward with this advance solution. One challenge is the additional costs related to adding a new monitoring system. Are the initial and recurring costs worth the return? Another hurdle is the lack of the right expertise within the company. Do we have the right expertise to manage all the different parts to this system?

Digi’s Cellular Product Manager, Brent Nelson, takes a few minutes to breakdown the benefits of tank monitoring, the technical and business challenges, and how companies can overcome these challenges with flexible technology that meets their needs.

If you’d like to learn more about remote tank monitoring with cellular devices, visit the Digi Connect Tank page.

Off-the-Shelf Components Connect NASA Wireless Experiment

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Did you know NASA’s XBee network that was deployed 200 miles above Earth was constructed completely out of off-the-shelf components?

As part of a NASA initiative to efficiently experiment with new ideas and technologies, the development team created their entire network out of commercial off-the-shelf components.  Using devices like Arduino and XBee, the engineering team was able to create a network to reliably gather critical data on Exo-Brake technology.

NASA-XBee-Arduino-WSN

An Arduino Mega processed data and acted as the gateway’s engine, which connected the local XBee network to the long-range Iridium satellite uplink. As seen in the diagram above, the gateway was placed within the payload of the Exo-Brake and gathered sensor data from three XBees-3-axis acceleration, temperature and pressure. Data was then sent back down to mission control for analysis.

You can read more about the launch at these links:

Customer Showcase: Wireless for Today’s Connected City

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Every day Digi works with customers around the world to deploy connected solutions that businesses rely on. From the ability to monitor device health to using data to make more informed decisions-connected devices are modernizing business operations. Here are a few of the many companies we are proud to work with.

EMTEST | Public Transitcss-featured-emtest (1)
As city populations continue to grow and public transportation demand rises, public transit agencies are finding innovative ways to handle the influx of passengers. Implementing wireless technology at ticketing kiosks and on-board displays helps streamline operations while also helping to improve the overall rider experience.

EMTest, a technology solution provider for transportation, uses the ConnectCore® 6 as the engine that powers its Emlines system. The ConnectCore 6, based on Freescale’s i.MX 6 applications processor, is a compact module that provides engineers all of the features necessary to build unique wireless applications.

EMTest gives transit operators the ability to facilitate ticket sales more efficiently, optimize vehicle routes—and it provides passenger Wi-Fi. With the fare collection system tied into the rest of the operations team, riders are provided with information such as next stop, travel times, and transfer information. The data collected is also essential for more efficient fleet management.

Owlet Nightshift by Schreder | Connected LightingRoundabout at twilight
As cities deploy LED street lights to cut energy costs, they’re also turning to wireless technology for data collection and remote monitoring for their street lighting.

Utilizing Digi wireless technology, Schréder developed the Owlet lighting solution, which enables cities to retrofit out-of-date lighting infrastructure with long lasting intelligent technology. Within each light is an LED array along with a Digi XBee ZigBee module. The XBee radios create ZigBee mesh network-connecting all of the city’s street lights wirelessly. Data from each light is then sent to a single point, a cellular XBee Gateway, which then  connects to a cellular network.

The XBee Gateway allows the city to monitor and control lighting with Owlet’s web-based management tools. Also, municipalities don’t have to wait for a citizen to report an outage or check lights via scheduled inspections. The lights themselves can tell the city when they need to be serviced or replaced.

AddÉnergie | Electric Vehicle Chargingcss-inline-addenergie
Electric vehicles are a rapidly growing market, and with it, so has the need for charging. AddEnergie specializes in providing charging station networks for electric vehicles. The company provides the charging infrastructure for both the Electric Circuit and the VERnetwork™, the two largest charging networks in Canada.

AddEnergie uses XBee modules to connect stations throughout entire parking lots and a single gateway is used at each lot to enable cloud connectivity. In addition to relying on Digi wireless technology, AddEnergie uses the ConnectCard i.MX 28 as the brains of their system.

The system includes proprietary software, PowerSharing™ and PowerLimiting™, which interface with Digi products and notify the charging stations when energy should be lowered to help reduce costs.

To learn more about how Digi customers are changing their respective industries, visit our customer story page here.

XBee Takes Flight at NASA Wallops Flight Facility

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You may remember this post from last year sharing the upcoming NASA experiment involving XBee. Well, after a few delays (launching rockets is complicated!), XBee finally took flight. XBee-Launch-Space

Early in the morning on July 7, NASA launched a NASA Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket from their Wallops Flight Facility. Onboard the rocket was an experiment testing Exo-Brake technology. XBee was used to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters.

NASA is considering Exo-brakes as a possible solution for returning cargo from the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting platforms or as possible landing mechanisms in low-density atmospheres. This was one of many tests used to analyze its effectiveness, but the first to incorporate an XBee connected sensor network. If you would like to read more about the Exo-brake, check out this article.

image3 (4)

We’ll have more coverage coming soon including video interviews with the engineers involved. In the meantime, you can learn more about the experiment in the articles linked below:

NASA’s Official Announcement on the Launch

Wireless-in-Space: How NASA Testing is One Small Step for Planetary Internet | Wireless Design Mag

IoT Tech Goes to Space with NASA | IoT Evolution

Have any questions about the launch or the technology involved in the experiment? You can reach us on Twitter at @XBeeWireless or comment below.

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