Smart Longkang may not be a term that Malaysians are familiar with now. But in a year or two, drains attached with sensors to monitor water levels - and to warn of flash floods - could very well be a common feature around our cities.
And it’s not just drains. Trees, equipped with non-invasive sensors can help farmers monitor humidity and temperature levels, to improve crop yields and efficiencies.
We want to support the government initiatives for Industry 4.0
These are just some of the possibilities of Internet of Things (IoT) using the low powered, wide area network (LPWAN), says Vicks Kanagasingam, Chief Operating Officer of Xperanti IoT Sdn Bhd, Malaysia’s first licensed nationwide IoT provider.
The Kuala Lumpur-based company began laying the groundwork for IoT deployment last year and has achieved 80 percent coverage by population in Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak.
“By end of next year, we will achieve 95 percent of the Malaysian population,” says Kanagasingam. “We want to support the government initiatives for Industry 4.0. So, we want to scale up the deployment.”
Smart Longkang To Mitigate Flash Flood, Dengue
Xperanti aims is to drive IoT adoption in key sectors such as agriculture, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, utilities, oil and gas and aviation, particularly in providing economic IoT solution to track non-powered assets.
This is where Xperanti’s exclusive partnership with wireless network provider Sigfox comes in. The French company - in which Khazanah Nasional holds a minority stake - has an IoT enablement network deployed in 54 countries around the world. Sigfox transmits low bandwidth data and small payloads of information. The technology is adept at tracking and monitoring, particularly non-powered assets like people, livestock or the environment, at a lower cost and energy, compared to using 4G or 5G.
I want Malaysian startups to come up with unique, local, solutions that I can go global with
“LPWAN requires only a small amount of data. SigFox (transmit) only in bytes unit,” says Kanagasingam. “SigFox technology is going to compliment 5G, which is high bandwidth and requires a lot of energy, a lot of power.”
“The LPWAN technology is designed to compliment and work with high bandwidth, creating a very powerful solution,” he explains.
Looking ahead, Kanagasingam says Malaysian companies can leverage on Sigfox’s network to take their solutions globally.
“I want Malaysian startups to come up with unique, local solutions that I can go global with. Like I said, solutions like Smart Longkang, Smart Pokok, Smart Kebun or Smart Bukit. Its use-cases are infinite. Based on the Sigfox technology, with the success of the application and with the right models, the world is their playground.”
Xperanti, he adds, are already in talks with manufacturers in Penang and one in Klang to start developing IoT-based devices that embrace Sigfox.
“They are working on developing devices for Malaysia. The best part is, whatever device that they develop and manufacture can also go global (through Sigfox’s network of 54 countries). In ASEAN, Thailand has SigFox. Indonesia will be starting SigFox next year. So the potential volume is extensive,” says Kanagasingam.
IoT Solutions for Monitoring Manholes
Earlier this year, Xperanti signed an MoU with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd - the first major organisation in the country to commit to fully adopting IoT in their method of operations.
Xperanti also has a partnership with Strand Aerospace Sdn Bhd to provide IoT solutions to track non-powered assets for POS Aviation.
Kanagasingam says that while more companies are starting to embrace IoT, SMEs and micro enterprises are less forthcoming to get on board, largely due to the cost factor.
“We realised that we need to come up with approach that is practical, scalable and sustainable for SMEs. In this country today, almost 90 percent of manufacturers are SMEs.”
“For example, if you want to do vehicle tracking, you'd have to pay about RM300 to RM500 for the tracking device and a monthly subscription of RM40 to RM60.”
“We have come up with more practical solution, where the device is RM100 to RM200, while annual subscription is about RM45,” says Kanagasingam. “ That’s the beauty about SigFox and Xperanti. We want to help companies to adopt Industry 4.0 in a very practical and effective approach.”
Malaysia Can Set IoT Benchmark in Agriculture
The government’s support, Kanagasingam says, is critical to push for SMEs to embrace IoT. At the same time, as more local manufacturers start developing devices that embrace Sigfox, prices can come down.
“For me, Malaysia sits in a very unique situation where we can cover all key industries, like agriculture and logistics."
“These other countries - Thailand and Indonesia - are also in that same space,” says Kanagasingam. "We are the first to deploy IoT nationwide. So, they will be looking at us for what are the best cases and application."