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Want to improve productivity? Talk to your machines

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Now that devices can talk to you and each other, make them work! Here’s a look at connected mobility, what it is, how to deploy it and how your customers can reap the benefits.

Objects have joined humans on the internet at a remarkable rate. Once silent and inanimate, they can now be connected to each other and to us over a mobile network, exchanging real-time data and enabling more instantaneous service than ever before.

 

Think this kind of connectivity isn’t for you? Think again...

 

As computers and sensors trend towards the microscopic and their costs plummet, the opportunities for remote connectivity are limited only by our imaginations. What if you could stay connected with every device you produce, own or operate, no matter where it is or where you go? What if you could set rules for how these devices interact with each other, when they contact you and when they just get on with the job by themselves?

Right now, Spark is making these ‘what ifs’ a reality with its Connected Mobility solution and transforming the way its customers here in New Zealand operate.

Key learnings

 

  • Opportunities for remote connectivity are limited only by our imaginations.

 

  • Spark is working within the banking, tourism, farming, healthcare and utility industries to connect devices and improve access, control and customer service.

 

  • Spark Connected Mobility SIMs come with a powerful control centre to manage the connectivity, data plans and deployment of hundreds or thousands of devices.

 

  • St John has transformed its medical alarm offering with Spark, providing a mobile network model that’s helping more than 7,000 customers enjoy their independence for longer.

 

Spark and St John: working together to provide better medical alarms

An exceptional example of Connected Mobility in action is the mobile network version of St John’s medical alarm that Spark has helped to implement. At its heart is a base unit in someone’s home that communicates with St John when the ‘help’ button is pressed on the unit or on a pendant the person wears. When the alarm is activated, St John can speak to anyone in the home through the base unit. If St John’s client needs assistance or they can’t be heard, an ambulance or appropriate response is arranged.
 
“Knowing the coverage and reliability of today’s cellular network, St John saw that offering a mobile network model would free it from relying on ADSL and copper landline connections, and deliver significant benefits to its customers, who are mainly seniors or people with disabilities,” explains Matt McLay, Spark mobility specialist.
 
Daryl Tomlinson, St John’s head of solution delivery, is delighted with the results. “Each customer’s phone company is slightly different in the way their copper phone lines work and in their faults processes. This was creating quite a bit of overhead for us with our landline models.
 
“In addition, our units have at least 30-hour battery back-up but if they’re connected through mains-only equipment, such as a UFB router, the backup is of no use.
 
“With our mobile SIM units from Spark, we’re completely independent of the customer’s telephone equipment and their provider, plus the SIM control centre makes it easy to monitor and manage the connections ourselves, without having to contact Spark.
 
“The service from Spark has been really good. Matt is my key contact for mobility and he’s fantastic with what he does for us. But it’s also the Spark people who support him, from the team that looks after our private APN connection to the faults team. They’re all really responsive, which is essential for an emergency service like ours.”
 
Matt adds, “There are now more than 7,000 St John cellular units in operation and the deployment rate continues to accelerate.”

 

It’s all about speed, access and service

In addition to St John, Spark is working with customers around the country, in a wide range of industries, to implement its Connected Mobility system that provides vital access, monitoring, control and ultimately, improved customer service. For example:

  • In the tourism industry: Connected Mobility is now being used to automatically manage customers’ daily in-vehicle mobile data limit.
  • In the farming industry: Mobile network connectivity is linking all kinds of sensors with operating devices, or to remotely operate things such as valves and gates.
  • And in the agribusiness industry: A company has Connected Mobility SIMs in tablets its staff uses in the field to streamline data collection. It can identify employees who are not using the tablets as expected and provide training or assistance as required.
  • In the banking industry: Connected Mobility is managing SIMs in ATMs that provide mobile network connections if their normal connections go down.
  •  In the skiing industry: Data-only smartphones are being used to scan tickets during the season. And with Connected Mobility, it’s easy to monitor appropriate data use, shut off all connections at the end of the season, and then re-establish them at the beginning of the next one, all without contacting Spark.
  • Remote meter reading is another large area of use, from monitoring real-time electricity use to milk vat levels and more.

 

Keeping it all under control

When you implement Spark’s Connected Mobility, you get an internationally recognised cloud-based control centre for no extra charge. Sophisticated and yet remarkably easy to use, it was developed by Jasper, a US tech company recently acquired by Cisco Systems. Jasper’s control centre lets you run historical and real-time connectivity reporting, set up automated alerts, run diagnostic tools and reconfigure connections as required.
 
“When we first show a customer that one of their remote devices is connected, it has an IP address and it’s using a particular APN to connect, they just get it straight away, which is very satisfying,” says Matt.

 

“Some of our customers have halved their mobile data costs”

Spark’s Connected Mobility service provides complete control over data limits. You can even automate plan switching to avoid excess data charges, and include an alert to keep you in the picture.
 
With the visibility and control that Connected Mobility provides, and the way it allows you to manage by exception through customised alerts, moving from 100 to 1,000 or more SIMs in the field is easily managed without compromising service delivery. The SIMs come with preloaded data for factory testing and can be set to automatically connect to your plan on activation up to a year later.
 
“Some of our customers have halved their mobile data costs because the plan is based on what they actually use, rather than what they think they might use. They can also shut off a device if it triggers an alert, like unexpected data use. Other customers use a low plan for everyday data then switch to a higher plan when they need to update firmware,” says Michael Lightfoot, another Spark mobility specialist.

 

Getting started

If you’d like to know how Spark’s Connected Mobility or Mobile Device Management can speed up your company’s information monitoring, access, control and customer service, Spark’s business mobility specialists can help. They can discuss ideas for strategy, development and deployment and show you how it all works. Get in touch with us here.

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