Category Archives: OPERATIONS

Inventory of Things

Recent advances in digital and radio technologies enable practically every kind of device to be connected to the Internet. The ability to communicate — gather data and send commands — with household appliances, vehicles and other means of transport, measurement and diagnostic devices as well as with manufacturing and distribution control equipment brings about innovative solutions and services in such areas as digital healthcare, smart energy production and distribution, logistics and transportation, mobile workforce management, personal and property security, connected home and smart city. In a few years the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to cover 50 billion devices, eventually changing the technical and business models of offering services. That however, will make service providers dependent on IoT solutions face a unique challenge of managing hundreds of thousands of connected devices.

Solution

Asta Labs’ answer to the challenges of IoT is Asta Inventory of Things — Asta IoT — a resource inventory solution that provides for managing the IoT equipment and infrastructure. Asta IoT enables defining the models of IoT resources and managing the configuration and state of IoT devices in real time, as well as managing the processes of IoT resource deployment and maintenance. Rich multimedia information in the form of photos, videos, documents, figures, floor plans, etc., can be presented using road and satellite maps and 3D visualisations, both on mobile devices and on interactive multimedia large-screen panels. Asta IoT is a new generation inventory solution — a communitized system, with real time notifications, instant messaging, on-line content uploading and tagging, etc.

Technology

Asta IoT is a mobile cloud computing system that supports a true SaaS model. System services are deployed on-line on scalable and secure public and private platforms from Microsoft — Windows Azure-based clouds and Windows Server-based infrastructures. User applications for smartphones, tablets and workstations, and large-screen panels are downloaded on-demand from the app store. The system uses Microsoft’s Bing Maps technology for geographical mapping as well as Asta Surveys and Asta Workflow-Workforce technologies for process management. By default, Asta IoT offers interfaces to IoT devices connected to the Internet by means of the LPWA technology developed by Sigfox — cost-effective and secure 4L (Low Power-Long Range-Low Traffic-Low Cost) technology with which, e.g., the largest IoT network in Europe has been built — the network of Cellnex Telecom has 1.3k base stations, each with the capacity of 1M devices.

(in Polish)

Rozwój technologii cyfrowych i radiowych pozwala obecnie na dołączenie do sieci Internet urządzeń praktycznie każdego rodzaju. Możliwość komunikacji – pobierania danych i wysyłania komend – z urządzeniami powszechnego użytku, pomiarowymi i diagnostycznymi, sterującymi produkcją i dystrybucją, ze środkami transportu przynosi nowatorskie rozwiązania i usługi w takich obszarach jak ochrona zdrowia, produkcja i dystrybucja energii, logistyka i transport, zarządzanie zasobami ludzkimi, ochrona mienia, inteligentne miasto czy dom. W perspektywie kilku lat Internet Rzeczy (IoT) ma objąć 50 miliardów urządzeń, ostatecznie zmieniając techniczne, ale też biznesowe, modele świadczenia usług. Usługodawcy korzystający z rozwiązań IoT staną jednak przed unikalnym wyzwaniem, jak zarządzać setkami tysięcy komunikujących się urządzeń.

Rozwiązanie

Odpowiedzią Asta Labs na wyzwania IoT jest Inventory of Things – system inwentaryzacji urządzeń i infrastruktury IoT. Pozwala on na definiowanie modeli oraz zarządzanie w czasie rzeczywistym konfiguracją i stanem zasobów IoT, jak również zarządzanie procesami instalacji i utrzymania. Bogata multimedialna informacja w postaci zdjęć, filmów, dokumentów, rysunków, schematów, jest prezentowana na urządzeniach mobilnych, ale i interaktywnych multimedialnych panelach ściennych, przy użyciu map topograficznych i satelitarnych czy wizualizacji 3D. Asta IoT jest systemem nowej generacji – systemem typu społecznościowego, z powiadomieniami, natychmiastową komunikacją, ładowaniem i tagowaniem treści, itp.

Technologia

Asta IoT jest systemem ’mobile cloud computing’ w modelu SaaS. Usługi systemu są wdrażane na żądanie na bezpiecznej i wydajnej platformie Microsoft Windows Azure. Aplikacje użytkowników na smartfony, tablety i stacje z platformą Windows 10 są ściągane wprost ze sklepu Windows Store. System korzysta m.in. z Microsoft Bing Maps oraz Asta Surveys i Asta Workflow-Workforce. Asta IoT standardowo oferuje styki m.in. do urządzeń IoT dołączonych do sieci przy użyciu technologii LPWA firmy Sigfox, efektywnej, bezpiecznej technologii 4L (’Low Power-Long Range-Low Traffic-Low Cost’) sprawdzonej m.in. w największej sieci IoT Cellnex Telecom, obejmującej 1.3k stacji bazowych o wydajności 1M urządzeń każda.

Mobile Workforce in the Mobile Cloud

Asta Labs has already started commercial deployment of its Asta Workforce product that constitutes one more element of the Asta Operations solution suite. Asta Workforce enables managing teams of mobile employees by defining and supervising groups of mobile workers, assigning work orders to entire teams and selected individuals, monitoring location of the employees, their availability and workload, as well as controlling work progress and reporting work results. Asta Workforce is a truly mobile cloud solution, which is offered as a service (hosted in the Windows Azure or a Windows Server-based environment) that can be accessed from smartphones and tablets, with applications available for download directly from the app stores.

With the Asta Workgroup Manager application arbitrary workforce teams can be defined by assigning employees to (multiple) workgroups as either plain workers or workgroup managers, based on their competences and skills. The application allows work supervisors to send work requests to workforce teams, and workgroup managers to monitor the location of team members, their status and workload, and assign work requests based on their capabilities and availability. The requests can be equipped with work questionnaires, documents and images required for completing and reporting the requested task.

The Asta Workers Dashboard application allows team members to manage their status and availability, and to receive work related notifications and to pick up and accept work requests. The application is used for managing assigned work request, controlling their deadlines, and reporting their progress and completion. It also supports intra- and inter-team communication, time-, distance-, and traffic-optimised navigation to the location where the requested task is to be performed, as well as other work support functions.

Asta Workforce can be customised to suit the needs of the majority of companies from utilities, communications, healthcare, security, marketing and other sectors. Apart from simple customisation of the description of employee capabilities, workforce managers can exploit advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology, to define arbitrary work questionnaires and reports.

New-Gen Resource Inventory

Asta Labs has released Asta Resources — a unique, new generation resource inventory solution. It enables managing information on resource configuration and processes of resource deployment and maintenance within diverse, in particular networking, environments of telecommunications networks, power grids, communications and transport infrastructures, and others. Information on both physical and logical resources can be managed – infrastructure sites and infrastructure connections, equipment and its hardware and software modules, logical connections, and much more. The information can have the rich multimedia form of photos, videos, documents, figures, floor plans, etc., and be presented using road and satellite maps and 3D visualisations. Asta Resources allows for resource management in a multi-party environment, when the resources are owned by different companies, which can describe their owned resources as planned or installed, designate as public or private, share them and lease, etc.

Asta Resources is an advanced and modern system but at the same time it is lightweight and simple. It is a mobile cloud computing system that supports a true SaaS model. A company can obtain its dedicated instance of Asta Resources in a matter of minutes with on-line registration of the company’s account, in real time activation of the company’s services in the cloud, and immediate, on-demand download of smartphone and tablet applications from the app store by the company’s employees. Implemented on Asta Architecture, Asta Resources is a highly scalable system that can be hosted in the Microsoft’s public Windows Azure cloud as well as in the company’s private cloud organised with Windows Server-based infrastructure.

Asta Resources realises the idea of the communitised business and operations support system. Its simple, intuitive and attractive smartphone and tablet applications, resembling social networks apps, are so much different than heavy, complex, overloaded applications of legacy, traditional resource inventory systems, which are installed on a limited numer of workstations and are only operated by a few highly skilled individuals. With simplification being one of primary system design objectives, Asta Resources provides for creating a large community of system users who can access resource-related information no matter who they are and where they are, using their everyday experience with instant messaging, uploading multimedia content or information tagging of social networks. In that way, Asta Resources promotes ubiquitous use of rich, multimedia resource-related information throughout all the divisions of the company, making the information more up-to-date, more consistent, and thus more valuable, allowing, in particular, for data crowdsourcing, etc.

Asta Resources is both flexible and future safe. Domain-specific models of resources that are downloaded at system deployment can then be customised and extended at system runtime — using object-oriented modelling concepts, system administrators can freely define new classes (kinds) of resources, like a new kind of equipment with specific functionality, and new resource types, i.e., specific types of resources of a given kind, like a new model of equipment of a given kind from a given manufacturer. Exploiting advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology arbitrary technical surveys can be defined to support resource management processes. And due to advanced workflow and workforce capabilities of Asta Platform those business processes can be tailored to the company’s profile, structure, maturity, and specific needs.

Asta Investments Goes into Portfolio

Asta Labs has included a new mobile cloud computing system into its product portfolio. Asta Investments allows both investors and contractors to manage all kinds of investment projects. Using mobile devices, the representatives of all involved parties can collaborate in controlling projects, subprojects, their phases and tasks. Smartphone and tablet applications provide for managing most current information on status, schedule and all involved parties, and for handling descriptions, documents, maps and pictures pertaining to every project-related activity. The state of each activity can be reviewed and analysed using advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology. Based on Asta Architecture, Asta Investments is offered as a service, hosted in the Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud.