The drone market is expected to surpass $101.1 Billion by 2032, and while military applications continue to dominate, commercial applications – parcel deliveries, remote safety inspections, environmental monitoring etc. – will make up a substantial part of that revenue.

In light of this anticipated growth in drone usage, we wanted to discover if people felt more or less comfortable about commercial vs. military applications, and whether the benefits outweighed their reservations. In March 2024, we surveyed 500+ American adults, and compiled the results in this eBook.

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What surprised us about the data

Two surveys from 2021 which engaged European audiences suggested that we could anticipate a broadly positive response. These surveys indicate that 68% of British citizens believe that drones will positively impact their lives, and 83% of EU-based respondents are positive about the use of drones in cities.

Our survey was more nuanced. Overall, 55% of respondents supported commercial drone applications, and 57% supported military drone applications. This is a more conversative response than previous studies, but what was particularly interesting was how much variation there was in the results. People in different household income, age, and industry groups held, in some cases, quite dramatically different views.

55%

Supported commercial drone applications

57%

Supported military drone applications

65%

Had concerns about drone hacking / interception

32%

Felt that drones were environmentally friendly

Which demographics are most likely to support military applications?

We offered two options for military applications: “passive”, which we defined as surveying and monitoring, and “active”, defined as identifying and destroying targets. The average result was 59% in favor of passive military drone applications, and 54% in favor of active applications.

This materially differed when the data was refined by demographic. Those in with household incomes over $100,000 p/a were more likely to approve of both passive (72% approval) and active (69% approval) military applications. Men were also more likely than women to support these use cases, with 63% approval for both from men, vs. 55% and 48% from women.

The larger deviations from the norm came from people working in Education & Research and Healthcare, and the under 30s, all of whom were less likely to support military drone applications – particularly active.

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american-attitudes-to-drones-1

Who is most likely to support commercial applications?

We divided commercial drone applications into five: Parcel Deliveries, Prescription Medicine Deliveries, Remote Safety Inspections, Environmental Monitoring, and Emergencies.

Opinions ranged from just 37% in favor (medicine deliveries) to 72% in favor (emergencies). Departing substantially from the average results were people working in Technology, who were more comfortable with drones being used across all commercial applications listed, but particularly positive about remote safety inspections – 72% in favor vs. 58% average.

People working in Healthcare were the most opposed to drones being used for prescription medicine deliveries, at just 18% in favor, and 58% opposed.

What concerns do Americans have about drone usage?

The biggest concern our respondents had was security – the possibility that drones can be hacked or intercepted. This view was most strongly supported by people working in Technology, of whom 76% cited this as a concern.

54% of respondents cited privacy – concerns about the information drones can capture and store – as a concern, and this rose to 62% for people working in Education & Research.

Fewer respondents were concerned about the potential for job losses – just 27% – but this rose to 38% for people working in Healthcare, possibly correlated with their discomfort around prescription medicine deliveries.

american-attitudes-to-drones-2
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What benefits do Americans perceive can be derived from drone usage?

People were pretty reserved in their responses to this question, with no single option getting selected by more than half of respondents. The most popular response was ‘Faster Deliveries’, at 49%, followed by ‘Lower Cost’ at 38%.

The over 60s departed from the average here; slightly more saw the cost-saving benefit (42%) but only 38% thought deliveries would be faster, and only 22% thought that using drones would be safer than the processes they replaced (vs. 30% average).

Fewer than a third of respondents thought that drone usage was better for the environment, which was a surprise; analysts have reported that drone-based applications could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 2.4 gigatons by 2030.

Leading us neatly on to…

What can the drone industry learn from these results?

While regulation remains a significant barrier for wider adoption of commercial drone applications, it will be overcome: market forces demand it. Solutions for the challenges of communication and collision avoidance already exist, and the industry received $4.8 billion in investment in 2022 alone. And at least from the operators’ perspective, the benefits, both projected and empirically demonstrated, outweigh the drawbacks.

But our respondents were, for the most part, cautious in their responses, particularly the over 60s, people in lower income households, and people working in Healthcare and Education and Research. Put simply, companies planning to deploy drones should consider how they communicate the benefits and address the concerns of citizens – particularly in applications that could directly affect their day to day lives.

How Can We Help?

Ground Control delivers satellite IoT modems that allow drone operators to remotely command and control UAVs, USVs and UGVs. We use the global Iridium satellite constellation, which is well suited to mobile, low latency, high-reliability use cases.

If you’re a drone manufacturer and would like to know more about our connectivity options, please complete the form, or email hello@groundcontrol.com; we’d love to talk.

    Required Field

    The natural disaster detection IoT market is projected to grow from $6.6bn in 2023 to $37.3bn by 2030, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.85%, according to 360iResearch.

    Natural disasters are a growing phenomenon, due to rising temperatures and climate change. IoT has an important role to play in monitoring environments and detecting natural disasters. It can help to warn, and somewhat mitigate the risk to, vulnerable populations, wildlife and commercial centers from events such as earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, hurricanes, flooding, wildfire and temperature extremeties.

    Further, technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are helping to predict, measure and pre-empt environmental change. This minimizes costs both in terms of lives, businesses, and urban infrastructure.

    This innovative use of technology will help save lives through preventive measures and early warning systems. But while global warming is – the clue is in the name – a global concern, early detection and data insight isn’t happening at the same rate across the globe.

    Worryingly, in the same parts of the globe where early detection is needed most, the data to facilitate this is missing or not being gathered. With the growth of IoT connectivity, all countries should be able to utilize environmental monitoring and disaster recovery data to their advantage, but this isn’t actually the case.

    The Problem of Missing Data

    The problem of ‘missing data’ forms part of an environment research paper for iopscience. The authors report that data gaps and missing data are commonplace across real world datasets, including global disaster databases. Global disaster databases, and recorded disaster data, are increasingly utilized by decision-makers and researchers to inform disaster mitigation and climate policies. So with significant chunks of data missing, the researchers question the conclusions drawn and the risks of unreliable study results. After all, a reliable evidence base is a prerequisite for effective decision making.

    So why is there an inconsistency in the data that is gathered and why are some countries not collecting the data they need? There are numerous reasons cited, including technological limitations in the surveillance of disaster events (which we will explore in more detail here), and factors such as the income status of the affected country, and the types of disaster event that occur. Global databases on environmental extremes, and analysis of their impacts, is largely carried out by research organizations in western nations. This means that there is a bias towards events in these countries. It’s an ‘unnatural disaster’ that some parts of the globe are still not able to monitor and measure the environmental changes that could save lives.

    The commercial world is being called upon to build the infrastructure needed to supply NGO, local communities and emergency services with the information they desperately need. Fixed sensors can capture temperature change, rising water levels, earthquake shock readings; drones can monitor volcanic activity and large bodies of water. This information delivers the insight necessary to inform and reduce loss of life.

    However, this comes with some significant investment, namely the network infrastructure needed to transmit the data, and ongoing funding – hence there being more complete data sets from countries of higher economic GDP.

    If the infrastructure does not exist to support environmental monitoring, or research is inhibited by poor or intermittent cellular connectivity, what can be done? Terrestrial networks are expensive to set up, and vulnerable themselves to natural disasters. As we reported in an earlier blog post, during a prolonged spell of rain in 2022, 1,200 cell towers were impacted in South Africa alone due flooding and landslides.

    Many countries and localities are simply not equipped to provide the power or networking to support cellular IoT. Not only is network coverage much lower in least developed countries than in the rest of the world, but mobile data usage can also be significantly more expensive.

    Solving the Communications Infrastructure Problem

    Satellite IoT can solve the communications infrastructure problem. It provides global connectivity to locations where cellular connectivity is missing or intermittent, enabling the kind of sensor data required for environmental monitoring to be transferred to and from the farthest reaches of the earth. All that’s needed is a satellite transceiver, antenna and clear view of the sky.

    Sentinel-hub-imagery

    As an example, Slide Sentinel provides a fully automated landslide monitoring system using Real Time Kinematics. This provides early detection and forewarning as well as limiting the use of invasive and expensive landslide monitoring drilling techniques. The system is capable of reliably detecting catastrophic landslides and centimeter movement in land mass and offers valuable information about gradual changes in land soil displacement.

    It’s a low-cost solution consisting of a network of remote low power sensors that detect fast linear slides and eventually lower soil movements such as creep. Long range low-power (LoRa) radio connections on these sensor nodes wirelessly transmit three-dimensional acceleration, Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS coordinates, and sudden shifts in soil movement to a gateway. This data is backhauled via satellite to the cloud from where it can be exported to anywhere on Earth.

    Read more about the Sentinel project and their work in the Pacific West.

    It’s not just the connectivity options that can limit research and data gathering. Harsh external conditions can make devices and data capture vulnerable to the elements. No two use cases are the same, and devices used for monitoring and sending data need to withstand temperature, wind and precipitation extremities, as well as the conditions during an actual disaster.

    A great example is the work by American Signal Corporation (ASC). The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (known as the “Boxing Day Tsunami) devastated lives, businesses and homes across SE Asia. An estimated 227,898 people died across 14 countries. With no early warning system of the approaching tsunami, no early evacuation procedures were undertaken, despite there being several hours between the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, with devastating consequences and huge loss of life.

    Following on from the disaster and working with the Thai Government, ASC installed a nationwide network of devices, including high powered speaker arrays, sensors and alerting devices together with bespoke management software to alert people to threats posed by tsunami, floods and other possible natural/manmade disasters. The critical nature of the solution required a connectivity option that could provide global coverage and network reliability with the lowest idle power requirement. They also needed a device that was robust, and could withstand the elements and the test of time.

    They opted for Ground Control’s RockBLOCK Plus satellite IoT transceiver to backhaul data from 1500 alerting devices across the country. The RockBLOCK Plus is waterproof, ruggedized, highly UV resistant and has a marine-grade Kevlar cable, making it ideal for long term outdoor deployment in the most severe environments.

    RockBLOCK Plus with normal cable

    Counting the Cost of Satellite Connectivity

    While satellite has a reputation for being expensive, it has decreased in the last few years, with diversified services and new entrants bringing prices down. The investment locally is not as expensive or as vulnerable to damage as building the cellular network infrastructure. With global satellite coverage already in place, satellite IoT provides a means of gathering intelligence without the greater cost of building and managing network infrastructure development.

    Satellite networks already contribute to programmes of meteorological measurement providing global data mapping of environmental change. However, further gains can be made if localised monitoring and data management are made accessible. Satellite IoT lends itself to solving this problem due to the flexibility with which data can be packaged and sent.

    Local sensor data can be passed in small data packets and transferred as messages without the chatty protocol overheads of IP connectivity. With a little development expertise and guidance, the data costs can be kept to a minimum so that you’re only transferring the essential information that is needed. If it’s life saving data that’s helping monitor global environmental health, it really shouldn’t cost the earth!

    Would you like to know more?

    If you’re tackling an remote connectivity challenge, with constraints on power, budget and latency, we can almost certainly help.

    Call us on +44 (0) 1452 751940 (UK) or +1.805.783.4600 (USA); email hello@groundcontrol.com, or complete the form.

    We have over 20 years’ experience designing and building satellite communication devices, and our expert team is standing by to offer support and suggestions.

      Required Field

      This article aims to help cellular IoT specialists integrate satellite IoT into your infrastructure. Many of the challenges you face in cellular connectivity – interoperability, coverage, power consumption, data optimization, etc. – have parallels in satellite connectivity. If you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly, and save yourself time and money in the long run.

      Consideration #1: Data Optimization

      “Just because it’s a free lunch doesn’t mean you should eat as much as you can” – Robby Hamblet, TEAL

      So, you’ve connected 90% of your sites with cellular, but the final 10% are out of cellular coverage, and satellite is your only option. In this common scenario, the first challenge is the volume of data you’re expecting to push through a satellite connection. As more and more IoT devices use up more and more bandwidth, even in cellular IoT, developers are being encouraged to be more circumspect with how much bandwidth they really need.

      This is an acutely important consideration in satellite IoT. Satellite Network Operators (SNOs) have a limited amount of licensed spectrum, and satellite “masts” are really far away (as much as 35,786km). SNOs consequently charge a relatively high premium. This is coming down, but it’s not realistic to expect parity with cellular given that operating costs are high, and capacity is limited.

      Cost, therefore, is a major incentive for systems integrators and developers to start thinking about how you can reduce the amount of data you send over satellite. The other incentive is power consumption: sending a lot of data tends to mean larger antennae which can’t operate without mains power. And as we’re talking exclusively about IoT here, we’re assuming the 10% of sites you’re unable to connect with cellular are also fairly unlikely to have mains power too.

      The most practical solution? Edge computing. There are lots of ways in which you can utilize some intelligence at the edge to restrict how much data you send over satellite. You can reduce the frequency of your transmissions, batching them to make better use of an IP connection. You can report by exception. You can define and tag your data priority, thus allowing certain types of data to pass through more frequently than other, less critical, types of data.

      If your devices can control your data in this way, perfect. If not, sophisticated satellite terminals like the RockREMOTE have flexible edge computing capabilities that will allow you to create rules to limit your transmissions there.

      Real World Example

      A renewable energy company we work with has a sensor array to detect wind turbine interactions with birds and bats. The gateway for the sensors expects to be able to pump data out continuously as long as there’s an open connection: potentially fine if you have a cellular connection, but expensive and inefficient if you are using satellite. Our solution was to add a timed firewall to the connected satellite transceiver. For one hour a day, the firewall is dropped, and the gateway sends its aggregated data in batches. Simple and effective.

      Consideration #2: Interoperability

      You may have had to navigate situations where there have been multiple communication protocols (WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee etc.) to contend with, particularly in legacy infrastructure. If so, you’ll already appreciate the benefit of planning ahead and considering the future development of your network. If it’s at all possible satellite IoT will factor in, knowing the application protocols in most common use will help.

      There are basically three options for IoT communication over satellite:

      1. Use an IP service like Iridium Certus 100 or Inmarsat BGAN M2M

      This plug-and-play option is the easiest means of sending data over satellite, but not the most efficient or cost-effective way. However, there’s plenty you can do to optimize your data (see above) to make it work better for you if you’re not in a position to change your application.

      2. Use a distributed MQTT broker solution

      If you’re using MQTT, you’re in luck: Ground Control’s IoT Gateway effectively places an MQTT broker at either side of a satellite transmission, re-formatting the data and managing the connection, message queuing, retries etc. automatically. We use Iridium Messaging Transport to move your data, which is message-based. You can read more about this in our previous blog post, but suffice to say, messaging is the most cost-effective way to transmit data over satellite, and this is an easy way to leverage those efficiencies.

      Illustration of Ground Control's IoT Gateway

      3. Re-engineer your solution to use messaging

      This low-level integration will allow you to use one of the proprietary messaging services offered by SNOs such as Iridium Short Burst Data, or Inmarsat’s IsatData Pro, both extremely cost-effective means of sending data via satellite. However it does usually require development work to make your data compatible with a messaging service.

      Real World Example:

      Most developers want an easy life (nothing wrong with that!) and will choose the path of least resistance. So it’s our job to make sure that you can use satellite IoT connectivity no matter what protocol you’re using. In one instance, a customer was unable to change their in-field sensor equipment or their server, but they did need to change the means by which data was transported between the two. We added some programming to our RockREMOTE device to effectively imitate the older equipment it was replacing, so the sensors could ‘talk’ to it with no adaptation required by the customer. And at the server end, our IoT platform Cloudloop enabled us to reformat the data and transmit it to the legacy server in the same vein.

      Consideration #3: Coverage

      Lack of cellular coverage is most likely what brought you to satellite in the first place, but not all satellite network constellations are created equal. Firstly, you need to ensure that the satellite network(s) you’re considering have orbiting satellites that can ‘see’ your devices’ location. Only one satellite IoT network – Iridium – is truly global, although others, including Inmarsat / Viasat, come close.

      Then you need to consider satellite density and architecture. Newer satellite networks may have just one or two satellites in orbit, which means you’ll get your data very slowly. On the plus side, they charge relatively little for airtime. Like many things, you get what you pay for: pay little, and you’ll get data once or twice a day with no delivery guarantees. Pay more, and you’ll get virtually real-time data from a network heavyweight trusted by the military and critical national infrastructure. It’s over to you to decide the frequency and criticality of your data transmissions.

      Further, you need to look at the precise location of the asset / application you’re extracting data from. If it’s surrounded by trees, mountains, buildings etc. then there’s a good chance it will have difficulty ‘seeing’ the satellite. Our engineering team put a quick guide together on this topic that’ll help you avoid making an expensive mistake.

      Real World Example:

      A water utility customer has sensors set up to monitor its remote facilities for unauthorized entry – manhole covers, containers and buildings, principally. The individual sensors are LoRaWAN networked, and deliver their data to a single gateway. The gateway is positioned next to our satellite transceiver, and both are carefully located so that the satellite IoT device has a clear view of the sky, and can transmit the aggregated and optimized data from the gateway. We’ve used the same set up for safety systems on a boat; locally networked sensors talking to a gateway co-located with a satellite transceiver. UHF radio also works well for this purpose.

      Consideration #4: Power Consumption

      If your device is so far removed from civilization that there’s no cellular coverage, there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a limited power supply, too. Larger VSAT dishes like the types required to provide Starlink and OneWeb broadband internet services need mains or generator power to operate; but satellite IoT-specific terminals can be, and often are, battery powered.

      You can preserve battery power in a number of ways we’ve already touched on: sending data less frequently. Sending less data, period. Using a message-based connection instead of an IP-based connection. Making sure your antenna has a clear view of the satellite network so no power is wasted in failed connection efforts.

      These aren’t all exclusively satellite-IoT considerations either; if your device application disregards the characteristics for which LPWA networks were designed, you’ll drain batteries faster, congest networks unnecessarily, and degrade the service quality. If you assume data constraints from the outset, it’ll benefit your application across all communication technologies.

      Real World Example:

      We have a customer measuring water levels in fracking sites in northern Canada, where temperatures drop to -32C. They needed two ‘heartbeat’ messages per day with status and location, plus an immediate alert if the level switch activated.

      As the sites are unmanned and unpowered, the solution needed to be self-powered, extremely robust and reliable.

      We took our RockBLOCK Sense and physically connected it to both a small solar panel array, and the sensor gateway (given how infrequently the locations were visited, Bluetooth LE as a wireless connection held too great a risk of communication failure).

      The device can be remotely managed using Cloudloop Device Manager, Ground Control’s online platform to allow for OTA updates and troubleshooting.

      RockBLOCK-Sense-in-Canada

      Key Takeaway

      The biggest challenge cellular IoT specialists face when implementing satellite IoT connectivity is learning to throttle back on data requirements. It’s too expensive and too power hungry to try to use satellites in the same way as you would a terrestrial network.

      There are always ways we can solve this problem for customers, and we’ve discussed many of them in this post, but it wouldn’t hurt to consider data constraints from the earliest part of your planning. Even the cellular spectrum has limits, and scarcity drives innovation. Build this into your thinking and you’ll have far fewer challenges to contend with if you need to expand your network in the future.

      Can we help you?

      If you have a remote connectivity challenge, we can almost certainly help.

      Call or email us at hello@groundcontrol.com, or complete the form, and one of our team will contact you within one working day.

      We design and build our own satellite IoT hardware and IoT platform, and we’ll offer you expert, objective advice.

        Required Field

        Coverage is a key consideration when choosing a satellite network for your application. At its most basic level, you need to ensure that the network you choose has orbiting satellites that cover the area from which you need to transmit data. This is widely available information – our Calculators and Maps page provides coverage maps for many of the main service providers.

        However, being able to provide coverage on paper is not the same as being able to do so in practice. Because you also need to ensure that your terminal’s antenna can easily communicate with the satellite. In order to do so it needs to be able to ‘see’ the satellite clearly. Depending on the type of satellite you’re connecting to, this is often referred to as as a requirement for ‘line of sight’ or a ‘clear view of the sky’.

        Geostationary satellites (e.g. Inmarsat) require a ‘clear line of sight’

        Geostationary satellites are positioned 35,786 km above Earth and are travelling at the same speed as Earth’s rotation – hence why they appear stationary, and the reason for the name. If your satellite antenna is designed to communicate with a geostationary satellite, it must be able to ‘see’ it. Many devices will help you figure out how well aligned your antenna is with the satellite (called the ‘look angle’) with a series of LED indicators or sounds. Once you’ve appropriately located your antenna, as long as it doesn’t move, it will retain a very stable connection with the geostationary satellite.

        Low Earth Orbit satellites (e.g. Iridium) require a 'clear view of the sky'

        Iridium has 66 satellites orbiting Earth at 780 km up, and they’re travelling at 30,000 km per hour. It will take a single Iridium satellite about seven minutes to pass from horizon to horizon, and in most places / at most times, there are two or three passing overhead. This confers a great benefit on users as antennae do not need to be ‘pointed’; they are omni-directional, meaning that they can transmit data at virtually any angle and – as long as there are no obstacles – one of the passing satellites will ‘pick’ the data up.

        However, if your device doesn’t have a clear view of the sky from horizon to horizon, there will be points in the satellite’s trajectory where it can’t receive a signal. For example, if you have a hydrology station collecting water quality data, in one direction it might face the dam wall; in another it might have a clear and unobstructed view of the horizon.

        ClearView-Diagram2

        In this instance, the Iridium satellite is able to receive data when it’s sufficiently overhead so that the dam wall isn’t blocking the signal, and it will continue to do so until it drops out of sight. This means you’ll get close to real-time data for approximately five out of the seven minutes during which the satellite is passing overhead.

        What can prevent a clear view of the sky?

        Typical obstructions include tall buildings (urban landscapes), dense foliage (trees, forests), and natural terrain features like mountains or valleys. Each of these reduce your ‘view of the sky’ and the effectiveness of satellite connections.

        What’s the impact of an impaired view of the sky?

        There’s likely to be an impact on signal quality and consistency: obstructions can completely block data packets (e.g. Iridium’s Short Burst Data service) and can affect the quality and consistency of connections that require a stable connection (e.g. IP connections such as Iridium Certus).

        Ultimately this can lead to reduced accuracy and reliability of satellite based tracking/communication equipment.

        How can you tell if you truly have a clear view of the sky?

        It may sound silly, but our engineers recommend this process as it gives a better understanding of ‘clear view of the sky’ from a satellite device’s perspective.

        1. Position Your Arms: Stand outside in the location where you use the device. Extend your arms in front of you, with one hand placed directly on top of the other.
        2. Create the ‘Crocodile Mouth’: Keeping your arms extended, separate your hands by raising one arm upwards, while keeping the other arm steady. The angle between your arms should be approximately 30 degrees. This creates a shape resembling a crocodile’s open mouth.
        3. 360-Degree Turn: Slowly turn your whole body in a full circle, 360 degrees, while keeping your arms in the same position.
        4. Observe the Sky View: As you turn, look through the gap between your hands (the ‘crocodile mouth’). You need to check if there are any obstructions in this view. These obstructions could be anything that breaks the line of sight between your hands and the sky, like buildings, trees, or other tall structures.
        5. Evaluate the View: If at any point during your 360-degree turn you see obstructions between your hands, it indicates that you don’t have a clear view of the sky. The aim is to have an unobstructed view of the sky throughout your entire turn, ensuring that the device can communicate effectively with the overhead satellites.



        Diagram illustrating how to establish if you have a clear view of the sky

        What to do if you don’t have a clear view of the sky

        If your application can manage without 100% real-time data, then having a compromised view of the horizon may not be an impediment. You’ll get your data very frequently, assuming that there is at least some sky visible to the antenna!

        If you don’t want to compromise, most engineers will try to elevate your antenna so that it clears the current obstructions. Mounting it on a pole is a very common option.

        In extreme cases, something like LoRaWAN can be used to transmit the data from the bottom of a canyon, for example, up to a more open location where a satellite transceiver can do its job.

        You could also explore a different satellite network: it’s possible that a geostationary satellite might be at just the right look angle for your antenna, and once these are locked in, they’re extremely stable.

        Talk to the experts

        We've implemented satellite IoT infrastructure for decades, and there's very rarely been an obstruction issue we couldn't overcome with a bit of knowledge and ingenuity.

        We'd be happy to talk to you about your project and offer impartial advice on the best antenna and satellite service for your particular requirements. Call or email us, or complete the form.
        Call or Email Us

        Sending data over satellite is more expensive than sending it over terrestrial networks. It’s become less expensive – the gap has shrunk, and continues to do so – but we won’t see complete parity of service and price soon – if ever.

        So, when you’re capturing data from remote assets, the first consideration is how much data you need to send. We often come across companies used to using cellular, for example, and having very few constraints on their data transmissions. That mindset needs a little adjustment for satellite transmissions.

        It’s a worthwhile exercise to dig into the art of the possible here: do you have some edge processing capabilities that would allow you to report by exception, for example? Time spent up front minimizing your data will pay back in far lower ongoing airtime fees.

        This leads on to the next question: can you optimize your data sufficiently to use a messaging service rather than an IP-based service? This article seeks to explain why this is such an important question in the context of satellite IoT, and help you choose the best service for your application.

        First things first: many people reading this will know how IP works. If that’s you, jump to the ‘What’s the Problem with IP’ section. If not, a basic understanding of IP is helpful to understand the pros and cons of this as a means of sending data over satellite.

        The Basics of Internet Protocol (IP)

        IP is the most common means by which packets of data are transferred from one machine to another. Machines are called ‘hosts’, and the IP network simply sends the data from the source host to the destination host. Both hosts are identified by an IP address which usually looks something like 192.158.1.38.

        Data is divided into packets and sent over the network by the most efficient path, which could well see packets going over different routes. They’re reassembled at the destination host . However, IP is quite a basic, unacknowledged transfer mechanism; the source host isn’t notified if the transmission succeeds or fails.

        So another layer in the tech stack is needed to make IP function reliably: it’s usually TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP is built on top of IP to check that data is successfully delivered, and in the same condition in which it was sent. It’s so fundamental to the functioning of IP that you’ll often see the two layers combined as TCP/IP and used interchangeably with the individual terms.

        What’s the Problem with TCP/IP as a Means of Communication Over Satellite?

        That’s a bit of a provocative subheading because there isn’t a problem, per se. But there are some challenges that can be overcome in several ways – one of which is to not use an IP-based connection method at all (more on this later).

        The main challenge is that TCP/IP is inefficient when it comes to transmitting very low volumes of data, and it’s relatively resource-hungry. In the example opposite, you can see how much data is passed back and forth in order to send just a single byte of useful data (thank you to Nick vs Networking’s blog post for this great illustration).

        Not only are you paying for the extra packaging and overhead, it might also require more power to transmit than if you were simply transmitting the useful data. Not an issue if your asset / sensor is powered, but it could be if your asset is unmanned, and needs to run off a battery for several years in between maintenance visits.

        TCP-IP-Data-Transmission-2

        If you want a more efficient means of passing data because you need to throttle back on cost, and/or your device needs to conserve power, you have four options.

        1. Optimize your data transmissions
        2. Explore UDP/IP as an alternative to TCP/IP
        3. Consider using a more efficient protocol designed for IoT such as MQTT
        4. Look at a message-based option instead


        1. Optimize Your Data Transmissions

        We briefly touched on this earlier; it’s popular because – unlike some other options – you don’t have to change the underlying network. Two of the best known satellite airtime options that work on a TCP/IP network are Inmarsat (now ViaSat)’s BGAN M2M, and Iridium’s Certus 100 service. If all of your other systems use IP, you can effectively plug-and-play to send your data over satellite using these airtime options.

        Think carefully about how much of the data you’re routinely transmitting contains information you actually need. Our previous blog post identified five key ways to reduce your satellite IoT connectivity costs. In short, by efficiently managing data usage, adjusting settings based on application requirements, and leveraging edge computing capabilities, you can use TCP/IP more effectively, and reduce your overall satellite airtime costs.

        2. Explore UDP/IP-based Applications

        If your application can tolerate some missing data, UDP can be a much more efficient means of working with IP. Packets (or ‘datagrams’) are sent via a ‘best effort’ communication method, which doesn’t require that the destination host has ‘accepted’ the data transfer. It’s faster and less resource heavy, but less reliable – delivery is not guaranteed – and there are security challenges too.

        Hologram.io has a great blog post outlining the differences between TCP and UDP in more detail. Applications built on UDP tend to favour limited networks with low bandwidth and low availability – CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) is probably the best known of these.

        3. Use a TCP/IP-based Application Designed for IoT

        Both HTTP and MQTT use TCP/IP; they layer over additional features specific to the applications that they serve. However, HTTP isn’t optimized for IoT; it’s designed for two machines to talk, not for networking many sensors, and is pretty noisy / talkative when used for the latter. If that’s your only option, circle back to point 1 and see what you can do to optimize your data for transmission.

        MQTT, on the other hand, was written specifically for IoT; it uses a publish/subscribe pattern which allows for efficient and reliable data transfer. Individual sensors publish data to a broker, and multiple ‘clients’ can subscribe to receive that data from the broker.

        MQTT delivers data with a very low overhead by using a binary format that minimizes message size. You can also choose varying levels of ‘QoS’ – Quality of Service – which allows you to speed up or slow down message delivery, and increase / decrease the certainty of the message being delivered. Basically, fast = less reliable delivery, and slow = very reliable delivery. All of this means your device is using TCP/IP very efficiently and therefore will consume less data.

        Among the criticisms of MQTT are security concerns – it doesn’t include a defined security mechanism, relying instead on the underlying network’s security – and a lack of built-in error handling. It’s worth noting that a number of companies working with MQTT have built platforms to manage these specific concerns, including Ground Control’s own Satellite IoT Gateway.

        4. Look at a Message-based Option Instead

        However efficient your application layer – and MQTT is very efficient – IP, whether UDP or TCP enabled, is still relatively overhead-heavy. If you can avoid using IP altogether, you can further minimize the volume of data delivered, and in doing so, spend less money on airtime, while keeping your battery powered device running longer.

        In the cellular industry, this is called (very logically) Non IP Data Delivery (NIDD), and it’s a message-based transmission protocol. With messaging, 100% of the data that is transmitted can contain useful application-related information, and the transmission lasts only as long as it takes to send that data. Compared to IP, it’s like the difference between a text message and a phone call; NIDD is the text message, and IP is the phone call – the latter delivers real time, two-way communication, but is more resource-hungry.

        In the satellite industry, a similar principle has been operated very successfully for over 20 years – message-based transmissions that are sent either at predefined intervals, or when requested, or when there has been an ‘event’. Iridium’s Short Burst Data (SBD) and Iridium Messaging Transport (IMT), plus Inmarsat’s IsatData Pro (IDP) are all message-based.

        It’s an extremely efficient way to use satellite airtime: send only what you need, when you need it, with no costly overhead. It does present a data compression (or compaction) challenge for developers: the message sizes are minute, with SBD sending just 320 bytes, and receiving 270 bytes. That can take some creativity to work with – but necessity is the mother of invention! Our SBD-based tracking devices convey date, time, position, altitude, course, speed, battery percentage, temperature, precision in just 17 bytes.

        Iridium Messaging Transport – a Game-Changer?

        Some of these size restrictions were lifted in late 2022 when Iridium launched IMT. This is still a message-based platform but it allows messages to be sent of up to 100 KB, a vast increase on the previously available options. This allows you to send compressed images and multiple sensors’ data, and so opens the door to message-based transmissions for far more use cases than was previously possible.

        Formatting Your Data for a Message-Based Transmission

        If you use SBD, you can transmit your data as either ASCII or Binary messages in packets of up to 340 bytes, while receiving packets of up to 270 bytes. Depending on your service provider, you can then deliver messages to your application using a wide variety of protocols. Ground Control’s customers gain access to Cloudloop Data, which supports our HTTP Webhook API, email or integration with public cloud services like AWS SQS. You can find all of the Cloudloop Data documentation here.

        If you decide to use IMT, great news: our engineering team have created a Satellite IoT Gateway which allows you to transmit your data using MQTT, but taking advantage of the cost- and power-benefits of the message-based transmission.

        MQTT plus IMT Data Transfer Diagram

        This system uses the RockREMOTE family of satellite IoT hardware. As per the diagram, you can communicate with RockREMOTE using MQTT, and it will transmit the data via IMT, managing the connection, message queuing, retries etc. automatically. It’s then reconstituted on to a secure, cloud-based MQTT broker which you can connect to your MQTT client or library, allowing your cloud application to consume the messages.

        Why Would You Use Anything Else?

        The main drawback is that, simply, IP-based communication is more common, so if your remote systems – sensors, gateways etc. – utilize IP, you’ll need to do some engineering work to switch to messaging.

        Here at Ground Control, we’re invested in making sure our customers use the most cost-effective means of reliably and securely communicating with their remote assets. If your application or protocol expects an interactive, two-way IP connection (i.e. SSH, SFTP, TCP/IP sockets, web browsing etc.), then something like Iridium Certus 100 or Inmarsat BGAN M2M is probably the best fit.

        If, however, you’re using MQTT, you can explore IMT; and if you have very small data requirements, you can unlock the most affordable solutions available. We’re here to help, so get in touch if you have any questions about this post, or you’d like some impartial advice.

        Can We Help?

        If you have a remote data transfer challenge, we would love to help you solve it. Our expertise, in-house hardware, Cloudloop platform and long-standing relationships with satellite network operators and hardware providers gives us the means to tackle challenges with creativity.

        We’re not invested in selling you a specific product or connections, just the best solution for your needs. If you prefer to speak to someone directly, call us on +44 (0) 1452 751940 (Europe, Asia, Africa) or +1.805.783.4600 (North and South America).

          Required Field

          Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drones are transforming logistics. The diverse applications range from delivering medicines to people in remote locations, to monitoring offshore wind platforms to identify and communicate possible hazards.

          The cost-saving advantages are clear; a drone is less expensive to operate than a manned vehicle, and it’s also safer. Historically, drones have been used in areas that are harder to reach by people. They’re harder to reach because they’re remote: out at sea, on an island, in the mountains or in the desert. This often comes with a side order of weather, radiation and elevation hazards. While a UAV might be negatively affected by these conditions, it’s obviously preferable to put a machine at risk rather than a human!

          But drone operation is not without its challenges, chief among them piloting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Without this capability, drones have to remain within sight of the operator, which limits the viability of most commercial applications. To operate safely BVLOS in non-segregated airspace (i.e. airspace shared by manned aircraft), drones must be able to detect and avoid other airspace users, reliably communicate with all stakeholders (the remote pilot, plus other aircraft and ground control), comply with relevant air traffic control regulations, and adapt to changing situations.

          Certification is currently managed on a case-by-case basis, and can take years. Satellite network operator Iridium recently published a white paper calling for a Minimum Equipment List (MEL) that, if adhered to, would allow drone operators to fast-track certification and operate safely in designated airspace. In the meantime, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is working on a regulatory framework that will enable specific category BVLOS operations in non-segregated airspace by 2026.

          Until these initiatives bear fruit, scaled drone operations will continue to take place within well-defined and controlled operating areas, reducing the risk of conflict with other aircraft. For example, the newly implemented European Standard Scenario (STS) allows drone operators to skip the EASA’s risk assessment and authorization process by restricting altitude, flight paths and operational hours. Both pilots and the drones must meet certain standards, which include failsafes for communication: you must be able to reestablish a data link in the event that it fails, or else be able to remotely terminate the flight (source).

          Communication with drones operating BVLOS

          Where available, drone operators will use airborne VHF / UHF / L-Band radio, or some form of cellular connectivity to communicate with their drones. But these radio frequencies may suffer from congestion, security challenges and regulatory limits. As many drones are used in unpopulated areas, cellular may simply not be an option. So connection redundancy is an increasingly important element of BVLOS operations.

          This is where LEO – Low Earth Orbit – satellite communication comes into play. Satellites launched into Low Earth Orbit are closer to the Earth than their geostationary counterparts. This has important implications for drone operators, because the latency – the time it takes a message to be sent to the drone from the operator, and received (or vice versa) – is reduced from c. two seconds to less than one second.

          As this diagram shows, very few satellites are needed to cover huge swathes of Earth if the satellite is far enough away from it, but satellites in Low Earth Orbit cover only a small portion of the Earth’s surface. Multiple LEO satellites are needed for global coverage, and the first – and to date only – globally accessible satellite IoT network is Iridium. This is why Iridium is so often the choice for UAV manufacturers looking to add failover communication to their drones.

          Iridium offers multiple airtime options for connecting to their satellites, from Certus 700 (700 Kbps, fast enough to support live video broadcasts) through to Short Burst Data (packet-based data which sends 270 / 340 bytes per message). Short Burst Data (SBD) is ideal as a failover connection; with SBD, operators can get position, altitude and speed, and can return basic commands such as ‘go to the nearest rally point’, ‘go home’ or ‘terminate flight’.

          SBD is lightweight, low power consuming, and meets most SWaP requirements for UAVs. It offers a secure and reliable connection to the drone to make it less vulnerable to hacking, and safe to pilot within controlled operating areas.

          Satellite-orbits-illustrated-3
          Elonda and Scotty visit Zipline

          Our team visiting Zipline in late 2023

          Supported by satellite IoT connectivity, important work is already taking place. Our customer Zipline is using SBD as the failover communication method for its Zips: autonomous aircraft that are being used to deliver prescriptions, groceries, vaccines, livestock supplies and more.

          Very recently, Zipline was cited in the peer-reviewed journal Vaccine, noting that its method of delivering vaccines aerially to more isolated parts of Ghana has improved clinical outcomes and prevented disease among children.

          In fact, it’s estimated that Zipline delivery has saved an estimated 727 lives in the Western-North Region by enabling 15,000 children to access vaccines who would not previously have been able to.

          Popular Youtuber Mark Rober filmed his experience at Zipline, and it’s well worth a watch to learn more about this incredible operation.

          To deliver vital chemotherapy drugs to patients on the Isle of Wight, UK-based Skylift UAV built an autonomous eVTOL (electric, vertical take-off and landing) aircraft which can fly for 1.5 hours on a single charge, with a maximum speed of 100 Mph. In BVLOS configuration, it can travel up to 100 Km, depending on the payload.

          The drones are autonomous, but monitored by Skylift’s safety pilots who can take control of the drone at any time. As the drone travels BVLOS, and across a body of water (the Solent), it’s essential that the pilots have two reliable means of communication with the drone at all times. The Skylift UAV team chose the RockBLOCK 9603 to deliver SBD connectivity in addition to aviation-grade L-Band radio to ensure that irrespective of the drone’s location, connectivity is guaranteed.

          RockBLOCK allows them to send and receive data from the aircraft, and is part of the robust communications package with which all Skylift drones are equipped. It’s also the final line of defence for mission success.

          RockBLOCK-used-in-UAV-2

          Would you like to know more?

          If you're building a drone and you're looking for a failover communication method, we can certainly help. If your requirements are more data-hungry than simple commands - perhaps you need to be able to transmit imagery, for example - speak to our team to find out what options are available to you.

          We have over 20 years' experience in satellite connectivity, and specialise in IoT and tracking applications. We're standing by to ensure you get the service you need.
          Call or Email Us

          With their reliable, secure and global connectivity, satellites have been instrumental in military communications for over half a century. Applications have covered everything from surveillance to operation support, and monitoring personnel to facilitating mobile command centers. A 2022 report revealed that the government and defense sector accounted for a staggering 42% of the $78.22 billion global satellite communication market. Looking ahead, the global military communication market is projected to reach $54.11 billion by 2029, driven by advancing technologies, including the Military Internet of Things (MIoT).

          Throughout history, military personnel have relied on secure and dependable channels to transmit vital information across vast distances. Satellites have played a transformative role in revolutionizing military communications, empowering rapid data transfer, real-time intelligence gathering, and precise targeting. To fully grasp the significance and influence of military satellite communications on the defense industry, it’s essential to delve into its evolutionary journey.

          Initial Defense Communications Satellite Program (IDCSP)

          Official efforts to create a military communications satellite started in 1960 and since then, the United States has relied largely on four different satellite constellations to deliver timely, reliable communications. The Initial Defense Communications Satellite Program (IDCSP) created the Pentagon’s first near-geosynchronous communications system – the Initial Defense Satellite Communication System (IDSCS). The first satellite of this constellation was launched in 1966, and by July 1967 consisted of 19 satellites in total. These satellites enabled the transfer of high-resolution photographs during the Vietnam War, allowing for near real-time battlefield analysis.

          Defense Satellite Communications System II (DSCS II) and DSCS III

          Subsequently, constellations Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) network holds a significant position within military satellite communications today – welcoming a new era of capabilities and flexibility. First, each WGS satellite offers more SATCOM capacity than the entire DSCS constellation, providing a quantum leap in communications capacity.

          Recognizing the system’s potential, in 2012 the WGS network expanded internationally, attracting partner countries including Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. According to Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs, these collaborations aimed to enhance interoperability, bolster trust, and increase capabilities and capacity for all partners.

          The WGS system operates through three principal segments: Space (satellites), Control (operators), and Terminal (users). The space segment consists of 10 cost-effective, high-throughput Ka- and X-band satellites; controlled and managed by the USSF Space Delta 8’s 4th Space Operations Squadron and 53rd Space Operations Squadron. The ground segment boasts thousands of tactical SATCOM terminals. Today the system provides worldwide, high-capacity communications for various government agencies, the Department of Defense (DOD), international partners, and NATO.

          The WGS network is a critical part of the US military’s communications infrastructure, but it’s important to note that it is not the only network they use. The US military utilizes a variety of other networks, including the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) and the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).

          Satellite Military Communications Today: Introducing United States Space Force

          The United States Space Force (USSF) was officially established in December 2019, when President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 into law. With a mission to “secure our Nation’s interests in, from, and to space”, the USSF became the sixth branch of the U.S. military.

          The establishment of the United States Space Force had been proposed and discussed for several years prior, with many recognizing the growing importance of space within the larger context of military and national security concerns. Its creation consolidated satellite acquisition, budget and workforce, across more than 60 organizations enabling a more efficient, effective service for space operations.

          One of the early successes of the Space Force was its role in providing early warnings of missile strikes against U.S. troops. Most recently, in August 2023, the USSF formed a new combative unit the 75th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (ISRS). The ISRS unit was formed with a clear mission: targeting adversary satellites, ground stations, and counter-space forces that can disrupt satellite systems during conflicts.

          Russia and China, possessing ground-based anti-satellite weaponry, both pose significant threats to the WGS. Additionally, they’re developing a “peaceful” spacecraft, designed to reduce orbital debris. However, this “peaceful” spacecraft could, in theory, dismantle U.S. satellites, siphon fuel, and damage components including antennae and solar panels, raising concerns regarding the true intentions and implications for space security.

          The Future of Military Satellite Communications

          In the ever-evolving landscape of military satellite communications, the demand for robust and widespread connectivity is surging. As Mike Tierney, industry analyst at Velos puts it – “the one thing that is always needed is more comm… We never have enough comm to get after what we need to do. We need more comm to support the fight.” Notably, the government and defense sector’s increasing reliance on satellite communications, driven by the transformation of operational environments and a growing dependence on sensor data and ISR platforms, further propels this growth. This shift is evident in the escalating demand for High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity to meet the evolving requirements of government and military applications.

          Charting the Course of Military Satellite Communications

          1. Security: Safeguarding the Final Frontier
          2. The Future Hub of Space Operations
          3. Combination of Commercial and Owned Communications

           

          Security: Safeguarding the Final Frontier

          As satellite reliance grows, security becomes not only paramount but also twofold. First, the war in Ukraine underscored satellite systems’ vulnerability to cyber warfare. In February 2022, a cyberattack disrupting Viasat’s satellite communications network was attributed to Russia’s military. Using wiper malware, the attack “bricked” KA-SAT modems across Europe, impacting tens of thousands of users, including Ukraine’s military. With cyber attacks becoming integral to military arsenals, the imperative for a robust defense strategy intensifies.

          Second, the physical security of satellites demands attention. China’s pursuit of satellites with on-orbit repair capabilities raises concerns, as some could double as weapons. Similarly, Russia is developing laser weapons to target adversary satellites. DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) robotic arm, set to launch in 2024, aims to repair satellites in geosynchronous orbit and could serve as “bodyguards” against threats. Safeguarding satellites requires a comprehensive approach, addressing both cyber vulnerabilities and physical defense mechanisms.

          The Future Hub of Space Operations

          Beyond Space Force, plans for a military space station are underway. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is soliciting proposals for an autonomous orbital outpost, laying the foundation for potential human habitation and docking with manned spacecraft. The DIU envisions the outpost supporting diverse functions, from microgravity experimentation to logistics and training. While its primary goal is currently experimentation, the solicitation hints at broader ambitions, including a military presence in geosynchronous orbit.

          Combination of commercial and owned communications

          The war in Ukraine also highlighted the agility and responsiveness of commercial satellites, particularly in critical infrastructure support and imaging during conflict. Commercial providers like SpaceX’s Starlink played pivotal roles. Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein emphasizes a pragmatic approach: “buy what we can and only build what we must.”

          However, in allocating nearly $13 billion over the next five years, the Pentagon signals a continued commitment to the importance of government-owned capabilities. As Mike Tierney from Velos notes: “this budget doesn’t reflect a pivot to a greater adoption of commercial capabilities in lieu of government-owned and operated capabilities.” Suggesting that the delicate balance between security, innovation, and pragmatic resource utilization is steering the future trajectory of military satellite communications.

          Need a Defense Communications Solution?

          At Ground Control our dedication to supporting defense and government organizations reflects our ongoing efforts to evolve with the dynamic landscape of the defense sector. As a trusted partner, we are committed to offering the highest level of service, straightforward procurement processes, and around-the-clock support.

          So if you're looking for reliable and cutting-edge satellite communication solutions tailored to the unique requirements of the defense industry, contact our team today to explore how our solutions can enhance your communication capabilities and contribute to the success of your mission.

          Construction companies operate a diverse range of costly machinery and tools crucial for project success. Delays in locating or maintaining these assets can lead to disruptions, missed deadlines, and tripled costs due to unplanned maintenance.

          LoJack‘s recent study pinpoints the most stolen equipment as wheeled or tracked loaders, towables, excavators, trailers, and utility vehicles. The National Equipment Register underscores the financial impact, averaging $30,000 per theft incident. In short, asset tracking is integral for risk mitigation in construction.

          However, traditional asset tracking methods often prove inadequate for the demands of the construction industry, which, according to McKinsey, has historically lagged in digitization. Relying on manual record-keeping and periodic inspections, firms have limited real-time visibility into assets’ location and their status. Manual tracking, often paper-based or spreadsheet-driven, becomes time-consuming and error-prone in the fast-paced construction environment, where assets frequently relocate. Inaccurate, untimely tracking data then challenges resource optimization, leading to under-utilization, and increased inefficiencies, and leaves construction sites vulnerable to theft and unauthorized usage.

          Satellite connectivity emerges as a crucial solution for construction asset tracking, particularly considering the diverse and often remote locations of building projects. Only about 15% of the Earth’s surface is covered by terrestrial networks, and construction sites are notorious for poor cellular service. In remote or challenging terrains, where theft and accidents are exacerbated, satellite connectivity becomes key for effective asset tracking and monitoring.

          Benefits of Satellite Asset Tracking

          PROMOTING WORKER SAFETY

          Satellite asset tracking is crucial for ensuring safety on construction sites, where inherent risks demand proactive measures. By offering real-time location insights, this technology acts as a guardian, facilitating swift responses in emergencies. Improved safety is evident as satellite tracking provides constant information about the location of workers and equipment, preventing accidents and ensuring a secure environment. So much so, that a recent study revealed a remarkable 14% reduction in accident costs for construction companies after implementing asset tracking solutions.

          Moreover, specialized alerts on personal tracking devices, such as the RockSTAR, contribute to enhanced worker safety. For instance, the timer alert allows workers to set a specific time interval. If there is no further interaction with the device within that time, the RockSTAR automatically sends a ‘timer alert’ to the server or first responders. This feature adds an extra layer of protection by ensuring timely response in situations where immediate action might be required.

          Lone Construction Worker

          COUNTERING EQUIPMENT THEFT

          The construction industry faces a substantial issue — equipment theft, costing an estimated $1 billion annually. A recent survey underscores the severity, with 21% of industry professionals reporting weekly incidents of theft. Beyond financial losses, these thefts lead to project delays, shutdowns, and pilferage of raw materials.

          Fleet tracking emerges as a powerful deterrent against the risk of asset theft and unauthorized use. Any unauthorized movement can trigger immediate alerts, facilitating prompt intervention, and enabling teams to alert authorities to the location of stolen assets. This also increases the chances of recovery.

          Unattended construction machinery

          STREAMLINING OPERATIONS

          Investments in heavy machinery and fleet vehicles constitute a substantial portion of operational costs. Satellite fleet tracking software serves as a powerful tool, centralising data and offering nearly real-time insights into asset utilization from any location. This efficiency translates to precise payroll and cost projections, providing construction companies with accurate work times and utilization reports.

          Moreover, asset tracking facilitates efficient inventory management by supplying accurate data on tool and material availability and usage. Additionally, asset tracking systems aid construction firms in regulatory compliance by maintaining precise records of equipment usage, maintenance, and inspections — a crucial aspect for audits and compliance adherence.

          Multiple machines on construction site

          EQUIPMENT UTILIZATION MONITORING

          Satellite fleet tracking plays a pivotal role in Equipment Utilization Monitoring (EUM) for the construction sector. With 45% of construction businesses identifying resource management as a challenge, real-time visibility through satellite tracking could prove valuable. Project managers gain instant insights into the location and status of construction assets, facilitating optimal deployment and utilization across various worksites.

          This not only enhances worksite productivity but also addresses the challenges of delivering projects on time and within budget, making satellite fleet tracking a key component for effective equipment utilization monitoring in the construction industry.

          Digger filling soil in to Dumper Truck

          PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE

          Satellite tracking enables firms to conduct proactive maintenance, offering substantial benefits such as cost savings from reduced unplanned equipment breakdowns and minimized repair expenses.

          The high adoption rate, with 76% of construction companies utilising fleet tracking and 73% deeming it extremely valuable, underscores its efficacy. The advantages include reduced downtime, improved equipment reliability and availability, lowered long-term maintenance costs, enhanced safety, and increased equipment longevity. This technology facilitates a proactive approach to maintenance, ensuring construction companies achieve optimal performance, mitigate risks, and realize substantial financial savings in the long run.

          Orange digger and blue sky

          Satellite Trackers for the Construction Industry

          Meet the Iridium Edge Solar

          The Iridium Edge Solar is a great choice for those in the construction sector due to its ruggedized, solar-powered, and two-way communications capabilities. Specifically designed for long-term deployment in remote areas, it boasts remote configuration capabilities and military-grade packaging, making it an ideal solution for asset management in challenging construction environments. With real-time GPS tracking and local wireless sensor and communication capabilities via Bluetooth, it provides comprehensive visibility into the location and performance of construction equipment.

          Its 10-year deployable lifespan aligns perfectly with the extended timelines often associated with construction projects. By utilising Iridium Edge Solar, construction companies can optimize the efficiency, safety, and productivity of their sites. The device facilitates real-time tracking of equipment locations, proactive monitoring of performance to identify potential issues, and immediate alerts to operators if the equipment is being used in a risky manner. Additionally, it enables data collection for refining safety procedures and training.
           
           

          Iridium-Edge-Solar-landscape

          Ready to Build Smarter?

          Gain real-time visibility, enhance security, and streamline resource management in any location, even beyond terrestrial networks. Our proven devices empower construction workers with reliable and efficient tracking capabilities. Ready to transform your construction operations? Explore Ground Control's satellite asset tracking solutions today.

          Not enough thought is given to the practicalities of Santa’s epic sleigh ride, in our view. Living at the North Pole, how does Santa receive all of the emailed letters he’s sent every year? How many carrots does a reindeer actually need to fly around the world? How does Santa avoid flying through the worst of the winter storms in the Northern Hemisphere? And how on earth is he sending “LIVE Christmas Eve updates from the Reindeer and me!” (https://twitter.com/OfficialSanta)?

          It’s obvious when you think about it. Only satellite connectivity allows Santa to remain connected wherever he goes on the globe, checking in with his team and Mrs Claus, maintaining the reindeers’ health, and ensuring that every child on the nice list gets a gift. And, in this instance, it’s Iridium satellite connectivity, with its coverage at the polar regions being a must-have!

          Without taking any of the magic away from the most wonderful time of the year, our infographic lays bare the communication challenges that Father Christmas solves with portable satellite internet and satellite tracking devices.

          Christmas 2021 Infographic

           

          To echo the sentiment of the infographic, we wish all of our customers, staff, and website visitors a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

          If you’re interested in learning more about Santa’s enviable satellite set up, here are the links: MCD-MissionLINK | RockBLOCK 9603 | RockAIR | RockSTAR

          Can we help you with your connectivity challenges?

          From data buoys to camel tracking, if you have assets in a remote area, we can help you communicate with them. We design and build all of the satellite IoT and tracking devices Santa uses in this infographic, and we work with the leading satellite network operators to ensure our customers get the best service for their requirements.

          If you would like impartial, expert advice on the most cost-effective, reliable, secure and efficient means of transmitting your remote data, get in touch!