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Fiber Optic Sensing Technology Promotes Safety, Efficiency and Education

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Photo by Joey Kyber of the Atlanta skyline courtesy World Economic Forum

August 27, 2020 — Infrastructure monitoring is a growing industry, with potential for vast market size, especially as cities across America are becoming more reliant on critical infrastructure.

To discuss the benefits fiber optic sensing technology has to offer, Lisa Youngers, CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, was joined by two members of the Fiber Optic Sensing Association, Stan Fendley, director of legislative and regulatory policy at Corning, and Michael Hines, market manager for industrial sensing at OFS, in an FBA webinar on Wednesday.

Hines described fiber optic sensors as a problem-solving smart city technology, “ideal for providing 24/7 monitoring of infrastructure assets.”

“Fiber optic sensing technology promotes education, safety, and commerce,” he said.

The technology is unique in its ability to distribute sensing points over very long spans, allowing it to monitor infrastructure spanning far-reaching distances.

The flexibility of technology enables it to solve issues with a range of critical infrastructure.

The technology has the potential to aid power cables, as it can detect faults and monitor smart grids. It has the ability to promote safety and efficiency in railway operations and maintenance. It can detect fires, manage roadway traffic, and so much more.

The fiber optic sensing technology works by measuring changes in the “backscattering” of light occurring in an optical fiber. Backscatter occurs naturally as laser energy propagates and interacts with a glass fiber core.

When the fiber encounters vibration, strain or temperature it changes, and these changes are recorded.

A “fiber interrogator” detects the returning backscatter and analyzes it to pinpoint event locations.

Embedded algorithms interpret raw data produced, converting it into alerts, alarms, and identifying events.

“The learning systems get smarter with time spent on an asset,” said Hines.

“There are good technical reasons to lay fiber optics along power conductors,” said Feldman.

“It is an upgradeable technology, which is great for protecting large assets,” he continued, “there are already incredible fiber resources in the ground, we should learn how to expand them.”

Contributing Reporter Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide and has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband.

Advanced Energy

Lawmakers Debate Clean Energy’s Role in Resolving Supply Chain Fragility, China Concerns

The U.S. accounts for just 10 percent of electric vehicle production and 7 percent of battery production.

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Screenshot of Rep. Morgan Griffith from the House Energy & Commerce Committee livestream

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2023 — As historic federal investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy begin to take effect, House lawmakers on Tuesday clashed over the best response to shared concerns about competition with China and the instability of domestic electricity sector supply chains.

Tuesday’s hearing, convened by the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, came just one day after the Department of Energy announced that it would no longer be awarding a $200 million grant to Texas-based battery company Microvast, following intense scrutiny from Republican lawmakers over the company’s ties to China.

Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith, R-Va., praised the decision but expressed continued skepticism about the department’s vetting processes — emphasizing the absence of Office of Manufacturing Director David Howell, who declined an invitation to testify.

By failing to appear at the hearing, “the Department of Energy not only refused to provide transparency to this committee, but they’re refusing to be transparent to the American people, who deserve every assurance that their tax dollars are not being funneled to China,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

But Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., argued that the award reversal was proof that the department “is taking its stewardship of taxpayer money very seriously.”

Pallone also blamed the Republican majority for Howell’s absence, claiming that the hearing had originally been planned for June and that department officials were working to coordinate the schedule “when all of sudden the date changed earlier this month to today.”

The proposed Microvast award would have been part of a $2.8 billion investment in battery manufacturing funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, intended to accelerate and strengthen a domestic supply chain. The United States currently accounts for just 10 percent of global electric vehicle production and 7 percent of battery production capacity.

By contrast, China produces three-quarters of all lithium-ion batteries and is home to the majority of production and processing capacity for several key battery components. China was responsible for half of the growth of the electric vehicle market in 2021, according to a recent International Energy Agency report.

While the Biden administration has taken steps to bolster U.S. manufacturing through the IIJA and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Republicans have broadly criticized this approach — particularly the IRA’s focus on clean energy.

Because of the current manufacturing imbalance, the administration’s emphasis on electric vehicles will largely benefit China rather than the U.S., argued Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate and Environment.

“Heavily subsidizing renewable energy and shoveling money in the form of financial awards out the door is not the solution,” McMorris Rodgers said. “These policies undermine our energy security and financially burden Americans already struggling with high cost of living — and would leave us even more reliant on China.”

However, a study commissioned by Third Way and Breakthrough Energy indicated that these pieces of legislation, alongside the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, are “fostering investments in and a reshoring of the clean energy supply chain and the associated manufacturing base,” said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, senior resident fellow for the climate and energy program at Third Way.

Hughes-Cromwick urged lawmakers to allow time for supply chain restructuring, saying that policy stability over multiple years is crucial to allow companies to make sustainable adjustments.

In order to achieve domestic clean energy goals, Congress should first modernize permitting, said Jeremy Harrell, chief strategy officer at ClearPath.

“The single largest mover of private sector investment is regulatory certainty,” Harrell claimed. “Never has the phrase ‘time is money’ been more appropriate — developers can only build new energy infrastructure as fast as federal, state and local governments can permit them, and right now that’s not fast enough.”

Learn more about clean energy infrastructure and the U.S.-China tech race at Broadband Breakfast’s Made in America Summit on June 27.

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Drones

Amazon Asks FCC to Allow Drones in 60-64 GHz Band in Preparation For New Delivery Service

Limited customer-facing operations are scheduled to begin this year for Amazon’s drone delivery service.

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Photo of Jaime Hjort, Amazon's head of wireless and spectrum policy

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2022 – Amazon on Friday continued its campaign to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to allow near–ground level drones to utilize the 60–64 GigaHertz band, a move the company said would make drone operations safer.

Amazon has long developed Amazon Prime Air, its drone-based delivery service. Then-CEO Jeff Bezos made a dramatic TV reveal in 2013, and limited customer-facing operations are scheduled to begin this year.

Allowing radar applications in this band would improve “a drone’s ability to sense and avoid persons and obstacles in and near its path without causing harmful interference to other spectrum users,” argued Friday’s letter, signed by Jaime Hjort, head of wireless and spectrum policy, and Kristine Hackman, senior manager of public policy.

In an October filing, cited in Friday’s letter, Amazon laid out its case more fully, stating that the proposed drone activity in the band would not clash with the existing operations of earth-exploration satellite services.

The company urged the commission to adopt a new perspective on drones, a novel technology: “A drone package delivery operating near ground level operates much more like a last-mile delivery truck than a cargo plane,” the October filing read.

Spectrum allocation is a top priority for lawmakers and experts, alike. Many believe increased spectrum access is vital to the development of next-generation 5G and 6G technologies as well as general American economic success.

In August, the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration – overseers of non-federal and federal spectrum, respectively – announced an updated memorandum of understanding to better coordinate Washington’s spectrum policy. In September, the FCC announced the winners of the 2.5 GHz auction and approved a notice seeking comment on the 12.7–13.25 GHz band the next month.

A senior NTIA official in October stated his agency would create “spectrum strategy” that will rely heavily on public input.

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Smart Cities

FCC’s Multi-Dwelling Decision Could Hamper Smart Wi-Fi Technology, Developer Says

The decision may disrupt managed Wi-Fi in multi-family arrangements.

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Screenshot of Ted Maulucci, president of SmartOne Solutions, in 2017

HOUSTON, May 5, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission’s decision paving the way for more competition in multi-tenant buildings may inadvertently hamper smart building technology, according to a developer of smart city tools.

The FCC finalized rules in February that prohibit internet service providers from entering exclusive revenue sharing agreements in which landlords get a cut of service provider contracts in order to increase service provider competition.

But the rules will mean managed Wi-Fi will suffer, according to a technologist at a Broadband Breakfast panel on Wednesday. That’s because such smart tools require a core group of subscribers – often done through a “bulk” purchase – to be economically viable. The result is more complicated community networks as competition between providers increases, he said.

“A lot of providers are building networks that only deliver internet to the home,” said Ted Maulucci, president of SmartOne Solutions, a smart tools developer from Canada. “They are not building networks that allow you to segregate networks within the building . . . The biggest problems we face are solved by network. The networks have to be created right.”

Maulucci called for the government to push for network building standards necessary for this technology.

Screenshot of Ted Maulucci, president of SmartOne Solutions, in 2017

Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular in multi-family units. Smart buildings are pre-engineered with this technology to promote sustainability, convenience, and safety in multitenant dwellings.

A shared interface allows residents to control thermostats, let people into the building, and view security camera visuals. Machine learning helps communities modify consumption behavior to promote sustainability and alerts residents of possible security threats through analysis of aggregated data.

Networks supplying broadband internet support these added benefits, making a community network essential for functionality.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event and REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 12 Noon ET – The Future of the Smart Home, and the Future of the Smart Apartment Building

Americans are increasingly integrating smart technology into their homes and digitizing facets of everyday life. Going forward, what aspects of digitization in the home may need to be regulated by government policy? Are there any changes people are making to their homes that the tech industry should be concerned by? With all the issues surrounding broadband access in many multi-dwelling units, is there any hope for the possibility of smart apartment buildings for residents as standards of technology continue to advance? Join us for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online event from the Broadband Communities Summit to look at these questions and more.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Kevin Donnelly, Vice President, Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, National Multifamily Housing Council
  • Amy Chien, Director of Strategic Innovations, BH
  • Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Product Marketing, ADTRAN
  • Ted Maulucci, President, SmartONE Solutions – A Smart Community Company
  • Guillermo Rivas, Vice President, New Business Development, Cox Communities
  • Drew Clark (presenter and host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Kevin Donnelly is Vice President for Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council and represents the interests of the multifamily industry before the federal government focusing on technology, connectivity, risk management and their intersection with housing policy. Kevin is a part of NMHC’s Innovation and Technology team and leads its Intelligent Buildings and Connectivity Committee.  Kevin has spent over 15 years in the public policy arena at leading real estate trade associations and on Capitol Hill. Kevin received his BA from Rutgers University and his Masters in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Amy Chien, Director of Strategic Innovations, BH

Kurt Raaflaub leads ADTRAN’s product marketing and public relations team, and has more than 25 years’ experience in telecom, mobile and cable. He has global product marketing, market intelligence, media and analyst relations responsibility for the Adtran end-to-end fiber broadband portfolio. Responsibility includes evangelizing the operator benefits of modern open and disaggregated access architectures based on open networking and data center principles.

Ted Maulucci is A mechanical engineer, MBA and an award-winning Chief Information Officer in the Real Estate sector. Ted is a pioneer and a visionary who has created the concept of Smart Communities. He is President, SmartONE Solutions.

Guillermo Rivas is the vice president of new business development for Cox Communications. He manages the teams responsible for building strategic relationships with developers, builders and owners of apartments, condominiums or single-family projects. In this role, he helps develop programs for the builder community to maximize the return of their investment through Cox’s advanced fiber to the home network, Pre-enabled Wi-Fi, Managed Wi-Fi and IoT network solutions that improve the Resident experience.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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