Digitalization enables smart, cost-effective applications that enhance the quality of urban life
Becoming a smart city just got less expensive: digimondo, a Hamburg-based startup nurtured as part of E.ON’s :agile innovation program, has begun setting up its low-energy, long-range communications network in cities across Germany. The network enables a wide range of applications to communicate independently, helping cities join the Internet of Things. Following successful launches in Berlin und Hamburg, this year digimondo will add its networks to a number of cities nationwide, including Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Essen. The company aims to become Germany’s market leader in urban communications networks.
The digimondo network consists of a series of antennas, sensors, and communications chips, allowing information to flow between a variety of devices and applications. Parking garages can communicate how many empty spaces are available; meters can be read remotely; shipping containers can transmit their location; and streetlights can be controlled remotely and automatically report defects. The low-energy technology has a high interference tolerance and a long range, which means that sensors can communicate from locations that lack an electricity hookup and internet service. “This will help cities and towns to reduce costs and find ways to improve their infrastructure,” digimondo founder Marcus Walena said.
Digimondo’s business model is founded on its proprietary LoRa™ network technology. Conventional networks like WLAN, Bluetooth, and LTE often lack sufficient range and solid-objection penetration or are simply too expensive for many small applications. Enabling smart devices to talk to one another across distances of several kilometers requires a system that is significantly less expensive to set up and operate. “Cost-effective data communications will better enable cities to meet the challenges of the future,” Walena emphasized.
Once the network is in place, customers can use it to run their own applications. For example, a boat rental service on Hamburg’s Alster lake equipped its boats with digimondo sensors, enabling it to track the boats’ location and speed at all times. Boat renters can access the same information using a mobile app. Gehrden, a suburb of Hanover, added digimondo sensors to electricity meters, which can now be read remotely. Cities can also use the digimondo network to control street lights, monitor surveillance cameras, and measure air quality.
In addition to the nationwide rollout, digimondo continually develops its proprietary LoRa™ software and adds new functions. The company is preparing to unveil features such as billing, surveillance, user administration, and lossless data storage and transmission. The system already meets the highest standards for secure, encrypted data transmission.
Through :agile E.ON fosters an innovative, entrepreneurial corporate culture. The program helps startups, entrepreneurs, and inventors transform their ideas into viable business models. It also reflects E.ON’s strategic focus on customer solutions, renewables, and energy networks.
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