Wireless Applications

Streetlight Grid Turned into Back-Haul Network

May 2, 2008

The ZigBee-enabled BrownBetty system uses a mesh network with nodes placed on existing streetlight infrastructure to create a backhaul communication network.


BOSTON, MA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sunrise Technologies is teaming with Ember to turn the country's grid of streetlights into a wide-area communications network for a host of new public utility, security, environmental and other applications.

Sunrise Technologies' new BrownBetty system creates a mesh network for communications between ground-based sensor and control devices and the Internet, utilizing Ember's ZigBee wireless network technology. By taking advantage of the existing streetlight infrastructure with its high elevation poles and clean line of sight, BrownBetty dramatically lowers the cost of backhaul communications while enabling applications that were previously not practical or affordable.

For utilities, these could include automatic meter reading (AMR), time-of-use metering (TOU), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), remote water meter reading, remote electric meter disconnect, fault indication, distribution automation, and utility GPS mapping.

Other applications include Homeland Security sensor monitoring, peak period load shedding (air conditioners, water heaters, pool pumps, etc.), vehicle tracking, bridge stress monitoring, advanced parking meters (APM), storm drain blockage monitoring, water flow monitoring, home/business heating oil tank monitoring, and bridge stress monitoring, among many others.

The system gets its curious name from Brown Betty, the horse used by Paul Revere in his famous ride to alert the Minuteman in Lexington and Concord of the British Army's approach.

"BrownBetty makes smart use of ZigBee to eliminate the need for expensive long haul communications options like cellular, pagers or powerline," said Bob Gohn, Ember's Vice President of Marketing. "Because it uses standard based communications, BrownBetty can network work with any other ZigBee enabled devices to form a reliable and robust network."

How it Works
Inexpensive communication nodes are plugged into a streetlight's standard NEMA twist lock receptacles, replacing the light's dusk to dawn photocontrols. Thanks to ZigBee's self-forming network capabilities, the nodes automatically install themselves into the BrownBetty network, resulting in minimal installation costs. This local network communicates with a network computer operating center through bridge nodes which connect to the internet via fiber, broadband or WiFi connections. A single low cost node can communicate with multiple houses with multiple applications. Each node incorporates a photo control circuit to provide normal dusk to dawn lighting control of the streetlight.

Sunrise Technologies partnered with muNet, a provider of IP and ZigBee-based electric meter interfaces, in a successful pilot of the BrownBetty system at the Taunton Municipal Light Plant (TMLP) in Taunton, MA. "The system is great because you can start inexpensively on a small scale and expand coverage and add on additional applications when you want them. It makes so many things more efficient," said Mike Horrigan, General Manager for TMLP. Other participants in the project included NightHawk to perform remote electric meter disconnect/reconnect, DataMatic remote water meter reading, Graphic Technologies, Inc. (GTI) to provide geospatial data, and Power Delivery Products, Inc. for its faulted circuit indicators.

Vance Spillman, Vice President and General Manager of Sunrise Technologies said, "BrownBetty was created to fill the void of cost effective wide area coverage for backhaul of ZigBee device information to the Internet," he said. "Smart grid implementation becomes instantly affordable. Adding the BrownBetty communications layer to Municipal WiFi systems makes the WiFi technology more useful. It adds value to the WiFi network and makes the WiFi network much more financially viable."

The BrownBetty system used Ember's EM250 ZigBee "system-on-chip" transceiver and EmberZNet PRO wireless mesh networking software. Sunrise Technologies realizes that Ember's ZigBee technology addresses the need for a cost-effective, standards-based wireless networking solution that supports low data-rates, low-power consumption, security and reliability.

About ZigBee: Wireless Control That Simply Works
The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost effective, low-power, wirelessly networked, monitoring and control products based on an open global standard. The ZigBee Alliance membership comprises technology providers and manufacturers worldwide. Membership is open to all.

About Ember
Ember Corp. develops ZigBee wireless networking technology that enables companies involved in energy technologies to help make buildings and homes smarter, consume less energy, operate more efficiently, and keep people comfortable and safe. Ember's low-power wireless technology can be embedded into a wide variety of devices to be part of a self-organizing mesh network. Ember is headquartered in Boston and has its radio development center in Cambridge, England, and distributors worldwide. The company is a promoter and Board member of the ZigBee Alliance and its platform is the "Golden Suite" for 802.15.4/ZigBee interoperability testing.

About Graphic Technologies
Graphic Technologies, Inc. (GTI) offers services and software products that grow the value of geospatial data. Its GTViewer family of products lets a broad audience view, query, and analyze geospatial data in order to complete business operations faster, safer, more accurately, and at lower cost. Implemented applications include vegetation management, equipment inspection, upstream/downstream trace, loop make-up, OTDR trace and data capture. Increase ROI by sharing geospatial data throughout the enterprise, via internet, intranet, LAN, laptop, or hand-held.

About Datamatic
Datamatic installed the first electronic meter reading system in 1980 and in doing so, birthed a new industry. Since then, Datamatic has been a force in the automatic meter reading (AMR) industry. From the development of that first handheld meter reading system to today's state-of-the-art MOSAIC AMR, remote shutoff and acoustic leak detection technologies, Datamatic's sole focus has been designing, installing, training and supporting AMR solutions that protect utilities' revenue streams and add value to their operations.

About muNet
Designed around open standards such as IP and ZigBee, muNet's WebGate advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solutions enable utilities to leverage existing standards-based communications infrastructure assets for AMI applications. By maximizing the use of multifunctional communication infrastructure muNet's WebGate AMI solutions provide the most versatile, full-featured and future AMI platform available on the market.

About Power Delivery Products
Power Delivery Products, Inc. is a market leader in both overhead and underground faulted circuit indicators. The Overhead Navigator and Underground Load Tracker fault indicators offer a self adjusting trip rating for one size fits all deployment. Automatic in-rush restraint with fast and easy operator installation has made Power Delivery Products the reliable choice for electric utilities committed to reducing outage time and improving customer service.

About Sunrise Technologies
Sunrise Technologies is the world's largest manufacturer of Roadway Lighting Controls. Through product development and acquisitions the high quality photocontrol product brands date back to the 1950s. Product groups also include products used in Municipal WiFi and wireless communications systems. Sunrise Technologies is a unit of Electro Switch Corp.


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