From automatic electricity monitoring and intelligent street lighting to the connected cities of the future, Capelon has been a part of everyday life in several cities for many years. Now they are taking the next step on their IoT journey by connecting everything from parking meters to garbage cans, and Telenor is playing a crucial role on this exciting journey.
This IoT case was first published in Swedish on Telenor Sverige.
Cities have always played a major role in our world. Historically, the city was the usually the first place where people could trade. Even today, cities are often hubs for everything from smaller local to larger global contexts.
Now, many big cities are growing in several ways. From size and number of inhabitants, as well as in terms of infrastructure and level of service. As a result, the needs of residents is becoming more and more complex, and city planners need to use more advanced tools to handle everything from emergency services to waste management.
And here the Internet of Things plays an important role, as technology makes it possible to create new and innovative ways of running cities. The concept is nothing new. The technical and entrepreneurial development of connecting everything from cars to humans and animals has been going on for a long time.
IoT means you can control things over the internet, which of course is exciting, but the most interesting thing is probably still the movement of data. Today, many companies are undergoing a rapid transition, from the “old” IoT to the next generation, where more and more benefits are achieved through technology.
One such company is Capelon, which was started in 1995 by Liang Liem after seeing opportunities to use the existing electricity network for data communication. The result was an electricity network modem that was developed together with Westermo, a Swedish company in industrial data communication.
“From the beginning, we had no clear strategy,” says Liang Liem, Founder and CEO of Capelon. “I am basically a technician and we developed fun products and took on exciting consulting assignments. It was about curiosity and the spirit of discovery.”
In 2006 the City of Gothenburg announced it wanted to explore ways it could use connected street lighting.
Capelon won the bidding together with the Swedish Road Administration. To make a long success story short, today Capelon control almost all of the city’s 1,000 lighting cabinets and have over 20,000 bulbs connected.
All the years of connected street lighting have given us a very good position to take Smart City and IoT further. We are not only a new IT company jumping on the IoT train, but we have the relationship with customers and a long experience in outdoor lighting and connected bulbs.”
Liang Liem, Founder and CEO of Capelon
It was also in connection with this that the collaboration with Telenor began. After contact with many operators, Capelon selected Telenor, partly because of the company’s curiosity about the product and understanding that M2M communication has very special needs if everything is to work smoothly.
“From the beginning and through the years, Telenor has been a responsive and loyal communication partner”, says Liang Liem. “They have played an extra important role because our offer includes all communication – our customers do not have to think about connectivity; all subscriptions, SIM cards and so on we take care of together with Telenor.”
“It is important that the companies I work with have confidence in us”, says Richard Döös, Customer Manager at Telenor. “That Telenor understand from the beginning that not everything is about price; they prioritize providing Capelon with all the help and support we need. We want to continue working together, and then the keywords are sensitivity and flexibility, not price optimization.”
In 2017, Capelon switched to focusing on “smart cities” where hundreds of thousands of devices may need to be connected to a network that must then be extremely robust and scalable to tolerate all traffic. It was then decided to build on the offer in intelligent street lighting with new products and new wireless radio technology.
Through the GreenStreet service, Capelon now offers cities primarily smart lighting by knowing in real time which lights work, which do not and why. The data collected over time helps to plan for future installations and maintenance. When you are aware of this, you can also provide the city’s residents with more pleasant, safer and more efficient lighting and outdoor environment.
The next step is focused on developing services where the city’s lighting can be used as infrastructure. As all the lights in a city communicate with each other, it creates a network that other things can also connect to. And this is of course in line with the IoT. There are lots of opportunities and few limitations. We can combine traffic and weather sensors with information signs and parking systems. And why not also connect the city’s trash cans to know when it’s time to empty them?
It is important to be clear. We obviously have a great responsibility towards our customer, but in order for them to get the most out of us, it is also important that you are open and honest and make sure that your services work as they should.”Richard Döös, Customer Manager at Telenor
Capelon and Telenor’s long collaboration is now being developed and expanded. It is simply the SIM cards that are the basis for being able to turn the lights on and off at all. Over the years, the collaboration has developed in step with the companies. Since Telenor has been a supplier of SIM cards, the relationship is much more extensive today, where the companies together develop an ever better product.
“This means that we will not always sell the service we can make the most money on right now,” states Richard Döös. “Instead, it is important to think long-term and see what we can both get out of the relationship in the long run. It is then, when everything works very well and to a certain extent rolls on by itself, that both we and the customer can feel secure in that we take care of each other’s business both in the short and long term. It simply does not hurt to be a little curious, that I think beyond myself and our own company,” Richard Döös concludes.