October 2006
Interview
AutomatedBuildings.com

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
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ConnectivityWeek Amsterdam & SingaporeEMAIL INTERVIEW  Vasiliy Suvorov & Mark Woolridge with Ken Sinclair

Vasiliy SuvorovVasiliy Suvorov, CEO, MeshNetics
Vasiliy Suvorov is Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer at MeshNetics. Mr. Suvorov has over 10 years of software development experience. Throughout his professional career he has held leading technical positions in international telecom and hi-tech companies, where he was responsible for defining strategy, designing and implementing real-time and mission-critical software systems. At his current position he is responsible for identifying and bringing to market innovative products that allow enterprises stay connected to their people, assets and processes no matter where they are located. Mr. Suvorov actively participates in international conferences and technology alliances helping companies realize business benefits from emerging technologies. Mr. Suvorov educational background is in Computer Science and Mathematics.

Mark WoolridgeMark Woolridge, Sales Director, BOX telematics
Mark Woolridge is the Sales Director of M2M static solutions for BOX telematics. Mr Woolridge has played a pivotal role in growing this subsidiary within the Mobilefone Group; this is reflected in the group figures of £1.5 million in 1992 to £70 million present turnover.  Mr. Woolridge has helped secure contracts with major global blue-chip companies including Shell, BMW, Honda and Severn Trent. He is responsible for driving strategy, sales, marketing and new product development in the wireless telematics arena.

 


ZigBee Comes to Rescue of Building Insurance Industry

Standards-based solutions provide the security of having interoperable components available from different vendors. ZigBee now is the only open standard developed specifically for the short-range wireless monitoring.

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Sinclair: I thought that the building insurance was a rather conservative industry. What made Crawford & Company turn to an emerging technology such as ZigBee?

Suvorov:  If you look at the insurance market today you will see that the companies face ever increasing competition. Visionaries are on the lookout for new solutions and technologies that will give a competitive edge. There are innovative technologies, such as WSN, available today and early adopters can be the winners. Building subsidence claim investigation is an extremely costly and time-consuming process. The value that the wireless solution brings, determined the choice of Crawford & Company. Standards-based solutions provide the security of having interoperable components available from different vendors. ZigBee now is the only open standard developed specifically for the short-range wireless monitoring.

Sinclair: What exactly is building subsidence and why do you need to monitor it?

Woolridge: Subsidence constitutes a significant part of property insurance claims. It is essentially a downward movement of the ground supporting a building. It can be caused by certain soils, such as clays; vegetation; leaking drains; and various types of ground movement, i.e. heaves, landslips, etc. Climate changes also can cause it, e.g. global warming aggravates the subsidence problem by drying the clay soils. If left unchecked, subsidence may result in structural damage presenting a serious problem for building owners. Every year, total subsidence damage is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. In the UK alone the cost of subsidence claims reached GBP390 million (over $700 million) in 2003 threatening the insurance industry profits.

Sinclair: How is this problem handled today?

Woolridge: Currently claim assessment takes on average 12-18 months. At least two professional structural engineers are required to conduct an investigation. They must go out in the field on a weekly basis and take measurements, collect data, and generate reports manually.

Sinclair: How can your wireless solution improve this process?

Suvorov: The wireless SlaveBOX nodes with tilt measurement sensors are placed in and around buildings. Each node is battery-powered and can function autonomously for at least 2 years. They form an ad-hoc mesh network, using MeshNetics ZigBee stack software, and transmit data through the BOX GPRS gateway to the monitoring company’s server. The data is then stored in a database and reports are generated. Save for the installation, no manual labour is required. The whole process is completely automated.

Woolridge: Remote building measurement delivers high value data via the BOX gateway enabling quick and accurate data decisions without the need for on site engineering evaluation. This allows proactive, preventive action before any serious damage occurs.

Sinclair: How long did it take to put such system together?

Woolridge: Crawford & Company received the working WSN solution in less than four months. BOX telematics expedited development by tapping into MeshNetics’ expertise in mesh network software and hardware design. Thanks to the inherent flexibility of the MeshBean hardware platform, MeshNetics was able to quickly customize it for this project. BOX also had a ready-to-use www gateway.

Reliable Controls Sinclair: What exactly is the mesh network and why is it required in this system?

Suvorov: There are a few network configuration types that can be implemented based on the 802.15.4/ZigBee platform: star, cluster tree and mesh. The first one is used for simple point-to-point connections. The tree networks are point-to-multipoint networks that allow larger amount of nodes while requiring more complex code. Finally the mesh networks are most complex and difficult to design and implement. However they allow ‘self-healing’ in case of a node failure which assures reliable data transmission and makes them ideal for large building monitoring systems.

Sinclair: What type of buildings is this system designed for (old or new, homes or commercial buildings), and how many sites are already being monitored?

Woolridge: The wireless monitoring system works for both old and new buildings. Currently it is mostly used for homes, but it should be applied in commercial property in the near future. During the trial phase the system has been deployed at over 10 sites. Larger scale deployment has already been planned.

Sinclair: Can you summarize the benefits of implementing this wireless monitoring system?

Woolridge: There are significant benefits. First of all, is improved accuracy and safety. Now data is collected on a regular basis, which enables enhanced building condition assessment and early preventive actions. The cost savings are also significant. The prohibitive cost of labour when the engineers visited sites, along with the manual data logging, is largely eliminated. The real-time wireless building solution also eliminated the need to run costly wires in the building—an expense that might exceed $100 per foot. Finally the operation efficiency improved. Claim Investigation time reduced from 12-18 months to only 2 months!

Sinclair: Where can our readers find more information on this?

Suvorov: BOX telematics and MeshNetics will make a joint presentation of this project at the BuilConn 2006 show on October 5th in Amsterdam. You can also find more information online at:
www.meshnetics.com/Building_Subsidence_Monitoring_Case_Study.pdf
www.meshnetics.com
www.boxtelematics.com
www.zigbee.org

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