Advanced Internet of Things
The CSIR’s Advanced Internet of Things (IoT) group specialises in research and development on IoT technologies. Advanced IoT technologies complement various national fourth industrial revolution initiatives in policy, government programmes, research and development (R&D), and application/solution development to address strategic deployment challenges of complex IoT systems intended to be addressed though building a local ecosystem of technology, service and training providers. These complex IoT systems require a broad range of technical competencies to integrate innovative solutions combining IoT with artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology, cybersecurity, networks, nanotechnology and robotics.
The group has developed a critical mine safety technology that is set to be commercialised. The novel technology provides early warning of goafs in coal mines). The group has field expertise for R&D deployments in underground mining and is developing other products in this area. In addition to mining, the group is also focusing on smart transactive microgrids, deployments for nuclear radiation monitoring, the local development of electronic monitoring technology for parolees, and the application of nanotechnology and IoT for specialised gas-sensing products and applications.
The CSIR provides value to key stakeholders in the IoT application domain who have a need for a technical solution or are service providers to those who have such a need, where off-the-shelf solutions are not available or innovation or localisation is required. The CSIR develops the custom products and services needed to drive the digital transformation of South Africa's next generation of enterprises and institutions with IoT technology by:
- Performing IoT R&D leading to innovation;
- Developing, localising and applying IoT systems to domains of national importance;
- Enabling IoT product/service diffusion and a local ecosystem in strategic programmes for the nation; and
- Incorporating CSIR domain expertise in fields such as energy, mining and nanotechnology.
The CSIR has a full suite of IoT development capabilities from edge to cloud, based on a three-tier architecture of edge tier, platform tier and enterprise tier. The group has the capabilities to develop embedded intelligence devices for harsh constrained environments based on microcontroller or field-programmable gate array designs, including all aspects of hardware, firmware, power management and networking, as well as for the platform tier in terms of data engineering, cloud infrastructure and software development and integration, front-end and backend software, databases, enterprise service buses, interfaces and application programming interfaces for the enterprise tier. The team of 18 (2021), which includes four principal engineers/developers, three senior researchers/engineers and other engineers and technicians, is expected to grow to 30 over the next three years to expand the R&D capacity to tackle complex IoT problems.
The team utilises the following infrastructure:
- Electronics lab;
- Mechanical workshop;
- Rapid prototyping and assembly of electronic systems equipment;
- Demonstration of IoT systems facility (being set up);
- Network emulator that is being integrated into a real-time power systems simulator (under development); and
- Microsystems sensor fabric qualification facility (under development).