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Sofia’s New Air Quality System Is One Of The Best IoT Solutions Worldwide According To Microsoft

Miroslav Gechev of Develiot presenting the system during Sofair in early spring © Develiot, Telelink
Miroslav Gechev of Develiot presenting the system during Sofair in early spring © Develiot, Telelink

Around a month ago, during its annual Global Partner of the Year Awards, Microsoft selected a Bulgarian product among the four best IoT solutions of the year. The young company Develiot, a two-years-old spinoff of the local system integration player Telelink, together with Telelink’s business services division,  have developed an end-to-end air quality monitoring system, that starting today will be deployed in Sofia. This is part of the plan for a network of sensors that covers the city and helps the municipality make data-driven decisions regarding pollution control measures.

“By the end of August, there will be 22 stations on different locations in the city measuring and updating real-time data on the air quality and causes of pollution,” explains to us Miroslav Gechev, who is leading the development of Develiot, ever since it was the internal industrial IoT startup of Telelink.

The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova said that by the beginning of December, citizens should also be able to access the data visualization through a mobile app. 

Industrial IoT from Bulgaria

As Develiot was selected among close to 3k nominations and was within the four finalists with brands like SoftBank Technology and Accenture, the product is obviously not just the next air-monitoring station. “Actually what makes it different is the quality of the devices and the fact that unlike many other products on the market we have an additional communication channel that could be activated in case of outage of the mobile network, so the data transfer doesn’t stop whatever happens,” explains Gechev.

What may sound too technical, actually means that the data on the pollutants and the
pollution levels around the city, but also the forecasts are up to date 24/7, so authorities and the municipality are equipped with all the needed information to act adequately. “Usually stations may disconnect due to electricity or mobile network outage and need to be fixed by a person. This takes time and cannot happen, for instance, in the middle of the night,” elaborates Gechev. Develiot’s device is equipped with different sensors and monitors multiple factors and transmits information via 2G and 3G networks, but alternatively also via low-energy network LoRaWAN. In addition, the stations can also be powered by a small solar panel attached to them.

The system features a software dashboard for data visualization that allows forecast for the next 24 to 48 hours. Thus, the whole product can help municipalities know what contributes most to pollution and what measures they can take to improve air quality timely. The software part, however, belongs to Telelink, the majority share owner of Develiot, but the stations could be used with any other platform.

An internal entrepreneur

“Two years ago, when we started developing the system, we actually wanted to develop the visualization platform. As it turned out to be quite challenging to find high quality, durable stations at a reasonable price, we decided to develop them internally,” tells us Gechev. Thus Develiot emerged as an internal startup with a team of ten within the company. As of today, the spinoff is negotiating deployment of the stations in another 15 cities on the Balkans. The first stations are already installed in Macedonian town Ohrid.

Develiot, however, doesn’t work directly with end-customers but through partners such as system integrators and telecommunication service providers. “We don’t want to be working directly with municipalities. Therefore, we provide our partners with the technology and end-to-end solutions for smart cities they can offer to their clients, “ tells us Miroslav Gechev. This is also how Develiot ended up installing monitoring stations in Sofia.

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