The first product developed by Starling Data comes from our work with Caribbean utility companies, who struggle with a lack of data to make investment decisions in energy efficiency and for use in response to natural disasters.
Our three-pronged solution of a wireless mesh network, pod-based sensors, and a data collection interface responds directly to their need for real-time, localized, simple data for better decision-making.
Wireless mesh network
The system transmits information through a wireless mesh network, making it wholly independent of internet or cellular services.
A mesh network is a local network topology in which the units that make up the system connect directly, dynamically, and non-hierarchically to as many other data-routing units as necessary.
Each unit is installed at approximately 300 meter intervals on existing power or lighting infrastructure and can collectively transmit data from a whole region to one recipient.
The data that is packaged and transmitted can either be: (a) collected through the sensors installed in each unit, or (b) a transmission of data collected by another device.
At left is a high-level schematic of of how a mesh network would function on an off-grid island, such as Palawan in the southwestern Philippines.
The network is made up of pods that are small, modular, easy to install, and inexpensive to build.
Pods are self-powered by solar cells and battery packs, meaning transmit data without interruption during power outages.
They are designed for tropical and temperate conditions and are weather-, mold-, bug-, and vandal- resistant. Their small size (approximately 12cm x 6cm x 6cm) means they are inconspicuous and do not need their own structures to be installed – they can be attached to existing infrastructure such as power poles or street lighting.
The pods can be customized with a variety of sensors dependent upon specific data collection needs. We have developed the first prototypes for for power grid monitoring and for climate/disaster risk management.
Per-pod cost is anticipated to be between 30 to 100 USD, depending on the configuration, to make the system accessible at scale and easy/inexpensive to maintain.
Through the mesh network, localized data collected by the sensors in each unit is packaged and sent back in real-time to a remote server. This data is then sent from the server to the client and displayed through a customized dashboard.
The dashboard visualizes and maps the data based on the needs of the client. It is designed to be easy to use for all levels of technical and data literacy and allows for customized queries, longitudinal analyses, and multiple point viewing.