StarHub, NUS deploy wireless IoT mesh network made of connected buses

StarHub and the National University of Singapore (NUS), in collaboration with ComfortDelGro Bus and Veniam, announced the deployment of what is billed as Singapore’s first pilot wireless mesh network in which connected (and moving) vehicles serve as internet access points.

Unlike conventional wireless network infrastructure, the mesh platform leverages vehicles as mobile Wi-Fi access points that connect to one another and to fixed points in buildings throughout the NUS campus. This disruptive approach helps extend overall Wi-Fi network coverage and enable a myriad of IoT devices to be connected seamlessly.

The wireless mesh access points are powered by a combination of Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) connected vehicle technology, 4G and Wi-Fi, providing seamless handovers and continuous connectivity.

With this deployment, NUS staff and students on the Kent Ridge campus can access seamless Wi-Fi while travelling on all NUS campus shuttle buses. It also allows commercial partners to leverage the anonymized data generated from this network to analyze and address urban challenges facing Singapore logistics and transportation companies today.

“This mesh platform at NUS allows StarHub to explore how we can use data generated from the platform to help companies in the logistics and transport sectors improve their operations and planning,” said Stephen Lee, Head of StarHub i3 (Innovation, Investment, Incubation) “We look forward to working with more commercial partners to expand the network to other parts of Singapore and find new ways to analyze and utilize the data collected in order to address various urban concerns and challenges facing the transportation and logistics industry.”

The year-long project at NUS is part of StarHub’s Connected Labs initiative, which aims to build an extensive test-lab for developers and researchers to validate their solutions in a real-life environment, through the use of real actionable data and deep analytical insights.

This pilot collaboration is also part of the NUS Living Lab initiative, led by the Interactive and Digital Media Institute (IDMI) at NUS, to transform the university into a major test-bed or large living laboratory for new technologies so that start-ups, firms or multi-national companies can use NUS as a real-world setting to test new services before they are commercialized.

“There’s a growing interest in wireless mesh technology given the government’s push towards a Smart Nation,” said Professor Lawrence Wong, Deputy Director of IDMI who is leading the NUS Living Lab initiative. “The deployment of wireless mesh vehicular technology will allow NUS to conduct research into areas such as wireless mesh network enhancements, commuting and mobility trends, and other technologies that will drive us towards becoming a Smart Nation.”

In addition to research, the data generated from the wireless mesh network in this pilot will also be used by NUS to better understand commuting and mobility trends on campus, and provide insights into its management of campus operations and services.

For instance, it can track exactly where the shuttle buses are on campus and determine the number of passengers on the buses in real-time, which will be useful in refining vehicular fleet surveillance, scheduling and management, so that buses can be deployed accordingly to meet demand. In the longer term, NUS’ start-ups could also leverage the information gathered through the technology to come up with solutions and create applications that will benefit both commuters and the transportation industry.

“As NUS’ internal shuttle bus service provider for the past 15 years, we are glad to be a partner in this project,” said Pang Weng Heng, CEO of ComfortDelGro Bus.

“We are very pleased to partner StarHub, NUS and ComfortDelGro Bus to deploy the first mesh network of connected vehicles in Singapore,” said Dr João Barros, Founder and CEO of Veniam. “The launch of this network is a very important milestone for Veniam in our efforts to contribute actively to Singapore’s ambitious plan of becoming a Smart Nation.”

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