Remote monitoring is a key part of mini-grid operations and maintenance. By installing sensors in strategic places across the system, problems can be identified and, hence, addressed quickly. Existing solutions, however, are made with the idea that no-one will be “on the ground” to assist in the monitoring and control process. As a result, they are highly complex (and highly expensive); too complex for Mee Panyar’s purposes. So we started looking for a solution that would allow us to take advantage of the on-site presence of our meesayars to bring down the cost of remote monitoring.
Cue the awesome people over at VMLY&R. VMLY&R is a global brand experience agency, working across six continents, that harnesses creativity, technology, and culture to create connected brands. They found Mee Panyar during our crowdfunding campaign and reached out to discuss other ways in which they could support our work. A couple of brainstorming sessions later, we landed on this remote monitoring project, a perfect fit with their in-house tech skills.
How can we devise a remote monitoring solution that uses off-the-shelf components? That would allow not only to bring down the costs but – coupled to open-source software that VMLY&R will help develop – also for the solution to be replicated by other developers in other places. With the challenge defined, a group of VMLY&R volunteers got to work. They held their first session last week (no [pre-] hackathon without pizza, of course), laying out the software architecture from front- to back-end, writing some of the initial patches of code, and having a first look at the hardware configuration. As such the stage is set for the ensuing hackathons over the course of which this solution will be completed.
Thanks to Keith, Paul and the team for all their work and a great kick-off to our collaboration!