Satellite technology is one of the key drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). It’s ubiquity and capability allowing for organisations across multiple industries to communicate over vast distances and gain critical visibility into rural and remote locations. A recent discussion around evolving satellite communications by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) pinpointed the value of satellites in bringing competing services to both rural and urban environments, delivering high-quality services and providing access and visibility into large geographic areas. Kathryn-Leigh Storm, Regional Sales Manager of Globalstar Africa, believes that satellite services are a realistic and reliable alternative to more traditional communications tools, particularly over vast geographic spaces that often impact on the effectiveness of these more traditional services.
“Satellite plays an important role in supporting industries that are situated in remote areas or that cover vast geographies,” explains Storm. “Using satellite technologies, these industries can completely bypass the need to invest in terrestrial infrastructure, which can be costly and time-consuming to install. Terrestrial infrastructure is also expensive to maintain which can cause delays and downtime, it is also complex to manage and delivers variable results. Satellite technology provides the business with peace of mind – they know that they have the visibility and control that they need over vast geographic distances.”
Africa is characterised by wide open spaces, undeveloped areas, rural disconnect, and complex terrain. Navigating these areas costs money, time and resources. Having insight into operations based within these spaces is critical to ensure that systems are operational, security is maintained, and communication is optimal. For industries that require ongoing connectivity and clarity into their remote operations, satellite is invaluable.
“There are numerous industries that require connectivity in remote areas,” says Storm. “We have use cases in mining, wildlife, and fisheries – they all benefit from Globalstar satellite coverage as it provides them with deeper insight into their operations and systems. The mining companies use satellite visibility to monitor run time on mining pumps, wildlife uses satellite to track elephants and other migrating animals, and the fisheries use the systems to track fishing boats rented out for expeditions. The use cases are varied, and the technology easily adapted to suit specific requirements.”
Satellite is more than just an eye in the sky. It is a tool that allows for richer insight into the operations of the business for improved decision-making, management of systems, and control. Solutions can be adapted to very specific requirements, including location monitoring, run, time, start/stop, temperature, rapid movement, and no movement at all. Essentially, anything can be monitored with the right sensors and systems in place.
“With satellite, you can adapt the solution to fit the industry or business need,” adds Storm. “Want to monitor assets remotely? Want to track remote workers for their safety? All this is possible with the right solution. And it has become increasingly important to monitor all these different elements in the business as it will allow for far more robust control over costs, systems, and business functions. Satellite can also track assets across borders without the need to piggyback off service providers and will also significantly reduce overhead and other solution complexities.”
The ability to connect the unconnected has become a critical tick box for every enterprise in every sector. From 5G to digitalisation to the Internet of Things and the potential of 4IR, connectivity of devices, individuals and systems are set to change the world in ways that few can imagine today. If done with the right tools, this connectivity can free up hours of work as the technology undertakes tasks that humans once did. It will allow for more entrenched and efficient automation, will boost productivity, and it will allow for the collection of data in more intelligent and relevant ways.
“Data, if collected and analysed properly, can enhance predictive maintenance that will increase productivity and cost savings,” says Storm. “Data can be invaluable in supporting growth and ensuring long-term sustainability for the business and that remote operations are more tightly managed and controlled. Insights gleaned from relevant data can transform how the business approaches specific operations and the people that manage them.”
Satellite technology is the perfect fit for any industry poised to take advantage of 4IR and the digital technologies that surround it. It is also ideally suited to industries that require high-level insight, control, and visibility into remote areas because it can see over vast distances, doesn’t require expensive ground infrastructure, nor does it place complex demands on the business before it even begins to deliver results. The value of satellite lies in its ubiquity and connectivity and in its ability to reduce overhead while increasing operational capabilities.