Meshnet has developed Safe Power Networks, a technology that it says give utility providers detailed information on their timber pole assets “to enhance maintenance and assist in safeguarding lives, property and infrastructure.”
The basis technology comprises an accelerometer attached to the pole that relays data to Meshnet where it is analysed using proprietary algorithms.
Meshnet director, Iain Puddy discussed the technology in a public safety roundtable organised earlier this year by Hitachi Data Systems, a summary of which has just been published in a white paper, From Security to Social Innovation: The Business Case for Public Safety.
In it Puddy explains that the system is designed to replace the traditional method of assessing the status of poles, which is to drill a hole in the pole to take a sample of the wood. This is done about every four years and over the 50 year life of a pole can weaken it and require it to be strengthened with metal supports.
Meshnet offers its technology to power companies on an information as a service basis with no upfront costs and, Puddy said, the cost was 10 percent to 15 percent less than the current test-by-drilling system.
The system is designed for installation in remote areas. It uses solar powered radios to create a link into an area with cellular coverage from where the data is handed over to the cellular network.
Puddy said it could provide additional benefits because it is able to detect any impact on the pole. “If someone taps on the pole in Morse code, we can pick that up. We were approached by Tas Networks and asked that question. They often have hikers that get lost where there is absolutely no signal.”
He also suggested that, if the technology were widely deployed, its communication function could be used with additional equipment to provide a rich network for environmental monitoring.