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Use Cases

Smart WearablesUse Cases

Construction Boom and the Triumph of Wearable Tech

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Build, build, build. The rapid economic upturn enjoyed by many countries in Asia today is taking the construction industry by storm. Suddenly, building high rise towers, factories, leisure sites, posh houses, condominiums, bridges and roads has become the most in demand job.

Far from an easy job, construction work is something that industries around the globe are putting their minds, and money, on more seriously than ever before. The challenge is how to respond to the demand, with the world construction activity predicted to accelerate by 70% in the next eight years. Is the construction industry prepared to take on the job?

Fortunately, a new generation of wearable tech has been developed to become a reliable partner of the construction workforce. Set to bring global infrastructure development to new heights,  wearable technology appropriately take the worker to augmented reality to radically transform their usual work routine into something more efficient, certainly faster and  a lot safer. Most importantly, using these wearables are easy peasy, even for the average digital migrant. Here are some of the latest designs in the market today:

The Smart Helmet Visor

The amazing technology behind the IoT-powered visor, which is designed as a helment, lies in its ability to access and deliver real-time data. It has four basic features: data visualization, thermal vision, guided work instructions and remote access. It’s compatible with the newest Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform which links all the data related to design, engineering works and systems for the construction project.

Credit: Dezeen

The smart helmet visor allows the construction worker to be more productive by removing downtime during their travels to and from the control room. They can work on-site and still be able to access the data they need and to collaborate with the team. And because the team out in the field have access to each other using the visor, it’s easier and less time-consuming to pass on instructions, provide guidance and make decisions. Implementing solutions to immediate problems and incidents is also possible as experts can be easily brought into the team remotely. Most importantly, the safety of the worker is ensured because the thermal vision allows him or her to visualize and analyze critical data such as a temperature within the workplace.

The Exoskeleton

Construction workers often contend with the risk of injury from lifting heavy equipment, tools and objects in the project site. The exoskeleton allows a person to lift anything of weight with ease and with zero effort. Like the fictional character Iron Man, the worker wearing an exoskeleton can transform into a powerful man-machine. This wearable tech is designed with a carbon fiber harness and metal-tube frame attachable to the legs. It is unpowered and instead uses counterweights which mechanically shunts the weight of the lifted object to the footplates.

Credits: New Scientist

Hands-free Gesture Control

This slick wearable uses IoT to allow the construction worker to access data on the fly, even when they are hard at work. It is an armband that allows the user to control a projected screen or on Google Glass by flicking the wrist. The movement made by muscles on the wrist or forearm are translated as signal using sensors connected to the armband. This way, workers on site need not stop whatever they’re doing to access data or instructions. Its creators believe this wearable tech increases productivity in work areas, especially those that are noisy, dusty or crowded, as well as in sterile work environments.

Credits: Thalmic Labs

The GPS-fitted Safety Vest

It’s a high-end safety vest with a global positioning system (GPS) that is linked to the control room. Apart from its usual function which is to ensure occupational safety in the workplace, the safety vest with a GPS also optimizes efficiency by allowing supervisors to see on-site operations, including movement of people and machines, location of resources and even documents and materials. The GPS is designed on an IoT platform to provide analytics and instant reports, and organize relevant data in dashboards. The vest is also equipped with a smart badge for identification.

So, while business is booming for the construction industry, it is actually the wearable tech industry that’s proving to be triumphant in pushing for efficiency at the workplace. And that’s good news for everyone.

 

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Industrial ControlUse Cases

In Smart Factories, IoT Redefines Quality and Efficiency

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When Ford Motors opened their first assembly line 100 years ago,  the world reeled on the possibilities that large scale manufacturing can actually accomplish in modernizing societies.  Today, technology has taken manufacturing to unimaginable levels, with efficiency defining every aspect of production. In the Digital World, efficiency rules. This is particularly relevant to the manufacturing industry which, over the years, has made the Internet of Things an integral component in the production line.

In our previous blogs, we discussed how IoT helps increase agricultural productivity by ensuring that all conditions to grow healthy crops are controlled and monitored. The same principle applies to manufacturing products. To ensure high quality output, the conditions in producing the materials must be put under efficient monitoring and control. With IoT, manufacturing plants of the old, industrial age have become smart factories that operate on tremendous level of efficiency and precision quality control.

Smart Factory Solution

Big companies are now increasingly dependent on IoT to provide stability and control of its plant operations. A smart factory solution using Waspmote and Microsoft Azure software has effectively helped the company Polibol in ensuring the quality of its products and in maintaining the stability of each step of its manufacturing process.

Polibol is a leading company based in South America that specializes in the production and supply of flexible packaging such as printed coils and aluminum laminated plastics. Its products are used as packaging material for several consumer products that are sold in Americas, Europe and North Africa. Apart from ensuring product quality, the company gives great consideration to the optimization of its processes. The use of IoT has become imperative to meet its standards that require continuous measurement of environmental variables.

 

Use of Wireless Sensor technology

The technological innovation that Polibol boldly adopted for its manufacturing operation has tremendously improved its production capacity and product quality at reduced costs.  The integration of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) in its production line allowed it to monitor critical processes and parameters that affect the quality of each output as well as the working conditions.  The sensor network technology have the capability of monitoring air temperature in the plant where the printing machines require stable temperature that is just enough to dry the ink on the elastic material and prevent blurring and smudges while printing. The temperature of the machines themselves also needs to be monitored given that printing is done at 200 meters per minute which, if not properly monitored, could lead to overheating.

Maintaining a stable temperature is also necessary to keep the elasticity of the materials during the manufacturing process. The packaging uses polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, polyamide, PVC and aluminum materials which are very difficult to print on if the consistency of the material becomes too elastic.

Another factor that is constantly monitored and fed to WSNs is light intensity. In printing the packaging materials, constant luminosity needs to be maintained. Light sensors allow for color analysis, with an ambient light used to determine the color.

The CO2 concentration in the air needs to be efficiently monitored as well, with emission needing to be controlled so that air circulating within the facility will remain harmless to workers. Sensors can read the amount of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) in the air, a common emission in printing shops. Solvents that are used during printing and laminating eventually dry up as it evaporate as VOCs. There is an environmental policy that requires factories to capture, recycle or destroy in a controlled manner evaporated VOCs to keep it from polluting the atmosphere.

Interestingly, Polibol also integrated a noise sensor which allows managers to control noise within the work area, either from machines or workers. The noise sensor is considered an early warning signal when a machine is going to break down, and thus allow enough time for preventive intervention.

Being able to monitor factory and worker conditions improves efficiency and cost-savings. Credits: Libelium

Transmitting and Storing Data

All data that is generated by the sensors are transmitted and stored using multiprotocol gateway that can be configured to communicate with different protocols like Wi-Fi, Ethernet and 802.15.4. A local database receives all data which can be read in real time. All reports can be accessed using a Web interface.

Polibol uses Microsoft Azure in sending and receiving data from the sensors and the system. From the outset, all data can be downloaded locally or data can be transferred from the server to a data storage device. Azure allows from synchronization of devices so that users can access the data anywhere, anytime.

Remote access to crucial technical reports as the manufacturing process is on-going makes production highly efficient and drastically lowers operational risks and failure in quality check.

Finally, and most amazingly, the sensor nodes installed in the factory are set-up in such a way that turning on or off, or putting the system in sleep, deep sleep and hibernation mode, can be done by a mere touch of a button on a remote device. This set-up helps reduce power cost and eventually, operational costs. More importantly, it ensures safety of the facility and durability of the entire system.

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LogisticsUse Cases

Smart Logistics for Better Cold Chain Business

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Are you engaged in the cold chain business? If you are, then your top priority is always to bring your perishable or frozen goods to the market in the best condition. Cold chain is key to the food industry and a very crucial element in the whole cycle of food marketing and consumption. Food safety, keeping food of the highest quality and avoiding food waste can only happen when you have a robust cold chain. This is why many companies have invested heavily on cold chain logistics.

credits: IPI-SG

Here’s the good news: with the Internet of Things, smart logistics make cold chain monitoring easier, less expensive and absolutely more efficient. Where before, monitoring the temperature of mobile freezers during transport was done manually, today, IoT makes it possible to remotely monitor and control temperature. This ensures that products reach the market in peak condition.

Cakes and pastries delivery in Zaragosa

A good example of IoT being utilized for cold chain logistics is that of a bakery and pastries company in Zaragoza, Spain. “Tahona Goyesca” is popular for its freshly made breads and cakes and people actually line up to buy their products. The company built four production lines across the city from which its products are delivered to a number of retail shops. The challenge is to make thirty deliveries daily without spoilage, much less a dent on the cakes. Deliveries are made early in the morning and reach the shops just as when people are lining up to buy their delicious fare.

Delivering fresh food efficiently and on time can be challenging in terms of logistics. What Tahona Goyesca did is to develop a Smart Tracking technology for its fleet of refrigerated delivery van. Smart systems allow remote temperature controlling and tracking. It uses a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) system to monitor the exact longitude and latitude position of each delivery van and acquire real-time reports on the status, including temperature, network signal and battery. All information are sent to the central dispatching office from which all deliveries are tracked using a digital map. The system can be accessed via 7a mobile phone connected to the Internet.

Smart Tracking of Deliveries

Tracking the binomial energy consumption as accurately as possible is very important for Tahona Goyesca as any change in temperature can immediately have an effect to the quality of its products. So it makes sure that all information about each delivery van comes in every three minutes. What the Smart Tracking technology does is to synchronize the temperature in the refrigerator, the position of the van, the battery level and 3G signal every 3 minutes. During these 3-minute intervals, the device automatically goes to sleep mode to save on battery. And because deliveries are made only at a particular time of the day, like 5am till lunch time, all sensor nodes in the delivery vans are on hibernation mode until the next delivery.

credits: Zatar

While initial cost of the entire system can be relatively high, the long-term benefit and ROI make it all worth it. Costs would include the installation of a system of sensors, called nodes, for each vehicle so that it can be tracked through a wireless gateway. For Tahona Goyesca, Each node device has 4 components: the temperature sensor, the GPS module with antenna, 3G antenna, and car battery charger.  What’s good about this tracking device is that it can be charged through the cigarette lighter socket of the vehicle and once charged, it can transmit data to the central system even when the engine is turned off.

Laura Lumbreras, Customer Service Manager at Tahona Goyesca, emphasizes the importance of real-time tracking for its delivery system, noting that cakes are one of the most delicate goods to transport and immediate response to any delay or failure in the system is critical before the cake gets ruined.

 

 

 

 

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Smart AgricultureUse Cases

Smart Farms to Keep the World Food Secure

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One of biggest problems faced by the human race today is sustainability of food supply. With food security threatened by runaway climate change, environmental degradation and unsound agricultural practices, having sufficient food to feed 9 billion people is an urgent global concern. But there is a silver lining behind this immense cloud of peril. Smart farming is bringing the agricultural sector a step closer to achieving global food security.

Food security is a real concern. Food production must increase to 70% by the year 2050 in order to feed the entire global population.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food production must increase to 70%  by the year 2050 in order to feed the entire global population which by then would reach 10 billion. Thankfully, the ambition of increasing agricultural production ten-fold is gradually becoming a reality with the use of IoT. Addressing both quality and quantity of agricultural output, the introduction of sensing technology has made farms “smarter”. Also called precision agriculture, the use of smart farming technology leads to several beneficial outcomes. According to Jerry Giovanny Cano, Consultant of Tecnoparque Nodo Pereira, a Colombian agricultural company, the benefits of a “smart” farm are: Improving environmental and agricultural sustainability; promoting sustainable productivity in plantain crops; organic waste management; crops traceability; and product safety.

One good case study that proves how IoT can potentially save the world from a catastrophic food shortage and famine is that of the Red Tecnoparque Colombia in Lembo, Colombia. This project is implemented by an agency under the Colombian National Service for Learning and aims to improve productivity of banana plantation crops.

Banana plantation.

The project features the installation of wireless sensors network to monitor banana plantation. These sensors have the capability to monitor flooding, increase or decrease in temperature and presence of plagues and diseases. It also sends signals whether there is a decrease of oxygen in the soil or there is high humidity which could affect the crops. With this kind of precision monitoring, the producers are able to act decisively to either save the crops or take advantage of the conditions to increase or decrease production.

The Red Tecnoparque Columbia aims to improve the quality and quantity of banana crop production. Banana is one of the country’s top export commodities and are shipped to all parts of the world, including the United States. Its economic contribution, therefore, will increase significantly if IoT is enabled to improve crop conditions. Using smart farming technology, the specific parameters to be measured and monitored by state-of-the-art sensors in banana plantation are as follows:

  • Digital Humidity & Temperature
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil temperature
  • Trunk diameter
  • Fruit diameter
  • Rain Gauge
  • Solar radiation

There are also sensors that can detect the presence and amount of Ammonia in the soil. Based on information collected by the sensors, supervisors of the project are able to investigate new varieties of banana as well as accurately predict harvest volume. The sensors help increase crop production by providing information that will allow producers to optimize water usage and reduce the use of fertilizers without compromising the quality and quantity of harvest.

What is amazing about the smart farming technology is its usability. Knowing that agricultural producers are far from being techno-savvy, designers created the sensors to simply communicate through protocols and send data via mobile networks using GPRS or 3G/4G. The application used to download reports can be accessed on a mobile phone or any computer. Some industrial communications protocols like 802.15.4 and ZigBee, and low-power wide are networks (LPWAN) like LORA and SigFox can be used as intermediate connectivity between the sensors and the gateway. The gateway is usually in the farmer’s home or office many kilometers away from the sensors on field.

Plantain crops deployment function diagram

Sensors and wireless connectivity applied in smart banana farming.

Jerry Giovanny Colorado Cano of the Tecnoparque Nodo Pereira believes the Colombia project will be a first step for future researches on using IoT for agriculture. He adds: “Our aim is to upgrade and promote innovation and competitiveness to all the processes related to environmental and agriculture sectors”.

Precision farming uses remote sensing application that also allows producers to prevent the spread of bacteria and fungus which often leads to massive destruction of crops. The advancement in IoT now makes it possible to keep plagues like the “Panama disease” at bay. This disease is now attacking farms in the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and even as far as Africa. Experts are improving crop species for plantains to be resistant to the disease while using remote sensors to immediately identify and control potential attacks.

Indeed, smart farming is the way to sustainable agriculture. With IoT serving as the backbone of agricultural production, we can sleep soundly knowing we’ll have enough food in the world to last for generations.

 

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IoT WikiSmart Home

A House is Not a Home if It’s Not “Smart”

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A house is not a home without people living in it. This cannot be emphasized more by the fantastic sensors that make up the “nervous system” of a smart home. The sensors know that human beings have needs, moods and preferences. IoT works smartly in a domestic setting such that it can turn an otherwise empty, dull house into a home. It can actually feel like being taken cared of at home by an invisible, intelligent and utterly efficient house help.

How do smart homes work?

Imagine a set of computers connected to each other and communicating with one another to solve problems. These computers, or computer devices can actually be installed in your house and function in a way that it interacts with you and the other computers. Your appliances and furnitures, such as thermostat, lighting system, airconditioning units, coffee maker and even the refrigerator can be turned into ‘home automation devices’ with its own processing capability and memory chip. The devices are then linked through a network, often through WiFi hub.

 

In achieving a fully automated home, you would need a WiFi hub that links all wireless home automation devices. Applications or programs can be installed in your phone to allow you to remotely control all the devices’ functions. (source: Home.Howstuffworks) With many sophisticated mobile apps now in the market, users can actually install home automation devices all they want and control them using the phone in a flick of a finger.

 

Another fascinating feature of a smart home is its capability to predict what you need. Imagine waking up in the morning with your coffee maker already brewing, your favorite news program already chattering on TV and your night lights already turned off, all because your alarm clock had rung. The IoT has taken computer intelligence into another level and, as far as smart home is concerned, more humane.
The news site editorialtoday.com describes the smart home as follows: “You could push a movie button on a touch pad which would dim your lights, close the drapes, turn on the popcorn maker, check for beer in the fridge , put your phone on voice mail, adjust heating or air conditioning in unused parts of your home while you’re watching and turn on your home theatre system.” That is a lot of effort and time saved. Quantify the effort and time to determine the value in dollars, and you would have saved lots of money, just because your home is smart.

This is how your smart home would look like. A house installed with IoT devices is capable of monitoring human activity. With your daily routine and schedules all stored in the memory of the devices, it will then be able to predict what you wake up, what time you go out and come back from work, and adjust its functionality accordingly. (credits: BeaconStac, Decoist)

In terms of value for money, the benefits of IoT for homes has been proven in many ways. But these benefits are more obvious if we talk about security and safety. In fact, keeping homes secure and safe had been the original objective of IoT for homes. The networking of alarms, security cameras and smoke detection devices were the first home automation devices to be installed. IoT has allowed the user to monitor every corner of the house in real time. It is also now possible to prevent electrical short circuits through the automatic disconnection of power around the house when smoke or short circuit is detected. Devices can also immediately detect gas leaks and warn household members by setting off the alarm and cutting off power supply.

 

With the way IoT is developing so rapidly, smart homes of the future are expected to be astoundingly intelligent. According to Business Insider, Bill Gates’ home in the Lake Washington is the smartest house on the planet. The technology used for the house is astounding and cost over a hundred million dollars because of its innovative and most advanced network. In each room, a number of sensors have been installed to determine when a person comes in, identifies the person, checks for security credentials and makes a basic background check. The room’s air conditioning unit is then turned on to a temperature that suits the temperature of the person who just came in. The room is automatically lit, and a soft background music chosen by the computer based on mood and preferences of the person who just came in. When no one is in the room or at home, the lights and thermostat turn off to save on power, and the security system turns at peak level.

 

So are you planning to go on a vacation? No worries, your smart home is house-sitting on its own.

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Security and Disaster ResponseUse Cases

Minimizing Impact of Floods Using IoT

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Southeast Asia is gearing up for deeper waters, literally. With climate change causing torrential rains for longer periods, massive and more destructive flooding is becoming the new normal. Since most economies in the region rely on agriculture and natural resources, the impact of flooding ultimately lead to significant downslide in economy and a grim increase of poverty levels. In the news, we see hundreds of hectares of rice fields and farms inundated in water, houses destroyed, and  people devastated by the loss of lives and property. Urban areas are equally not spared by extreme flooding as thousands of homes  are damaged or totally destroyed and as people’s lives come to a halt, economy shuts down resulting to heavy losses for many businesses.  According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) , people living in rural areas are severely threatened by climatic impacts because of their limited adaptive capacity. Even in the cities and suburbs, however, limited capability in disaster mitigation and adaptation lead to devastating consequences. This is especially real when flooding occurs and the government and people seem to be helpless in the face of its destruction.

Worst hit by flooding are poor regions in southeast Asia like the Philippines (credits: DW)

But technology, more specifically, IoT, can change this. Scientists have developed technological innovation purposely to allow human beings to adapt and survive through the adverse effects of climate change. The latest invention is a wireless sensor network that have the capability to detect floods, thus giving disaster responders to act faster and more efficiently.

Minimizing adverse impact of flooding

According to a report released by UNICEF in 2012, over eight million people in Southeast Asia are affected by massive, often destructive and fatal, flooding.  This is why international aid has poured to many countries in the region to build the capability of governments and emergency responders to prevent and mitigate disaster. What if the disaster responders are able to use technology to accurately predict whether a certain area will be flooded on what day and time, the volume and height of flood water, the length of time before it recedes and the amount of damage it cause.

This map shows that Southeast Asian incur the heaviest GDP loss due to exposure to floods. (credits: NASA- CEDAC)

Why is it very important to manage flood risks using the Internet of Things? Major reasons are obvious, such as preventing death and destruction.  Other reasons include protecting the economic activity and lessening the risk for businesses. With technology on hand, transportation routes and commercial properties are protected as well. It will minimize the impact of flood on agricultural crops because, with IoT, it is possible to reduce the severity of the flood.  Manufacturing plants and installations that utilize toxic chemicals  also have the possibility to contaminate water and put the health of many people at risk. The network of sensors can detect water contamination and send alert signals to responders.  Most brilliantly, technology allows for the utilization of excess water damaging the streets and farms by diverting it to productive uses.

So how can IoT achieve all these?

We will elaborate on this later, but first let us take a look at how flood detection is presently done.  Manual readings are often done in most developing countries. This involves a person assigned to physically watch the water level meter usually drawn or painted on the edge of a river. Such a manner of measuring  river outflow is not scalable as it cannot measure long rivers that stretch to kilometric lengths. Some scientists also rely on information fed from satellites in outer space. But for Southeast Asia, this may not be very effective as natural disasters occur more frequently and available data from satellite footages  can take many kilometric years before the information arrives.

Wireless sensor network is an alternative way to detect early flood signs and monitoring flood-prone areas. This technology can efficiently predict the risk of flooding, and more. It can monitor weather conditions and the amount of rainfall that will come down in a certain period of time. In short, the wireless sensor networks are cost-effective and scalable and allows for very early detection of rising flood waters.

A flood detection IoT system makes it possible to determine likeliness of flooding in a local area and predict its depth, and if it is potentially destructive. Using remote monitoring, measuring the increase of water level and instantly generating alerts wirelessly is now possible. Sensors can be placed along the riverbed to monitor a rise and quickly predict flooding. Another sensor can also be setup to monitor water level and weather conditions.  Data can be collected using event-based sensors and agriculture-based sensors and link it up with a wireless sensor network. The network then sends out the information to responders which are wireless receivers that process the sensor data for visualization and generating alerts or calls to action. These are then utilized by decision makers or emergency responders to send out early warnings or respond to flood-struck areas.

Sensor Technologies that can be used to monitor water level and detect flooding.

Wireless sensory technology leads the way to the future. If the future looks bleak because of climate change, IoT can make it a lot less darker and a lot more proactive than reactive. With sensor technologies becoming a more effective adaptation option, IoT is bound to be included in climate change mitigation and adaptation programs such as: solutions for sustainable drainage system and automation of storm water drainage infrastructure. With regards to the drainage infrastructure, this allows for productive use of flood water. Here, water is captured and re-directed to another area where it can cause less damage, and in many cases, can be used to, for example , irrigate vegetation or increase clean water supply.

In any case, the end goal is to mitigate damage to both lives and property, by early detection, prediction, and early planning.

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Connected TransportationUse Cases

Smart Transportation Case Study

Today, getting products and people from point A to point B takes more than planning a route and making traffic reports. Smart transportation is now inevitable to move people and goods fast, reliably and cost-effectively.

Road congestion causes delays and potentially missing delivery windows. Managing deliveries and supply chains are thus keys to meeting customer expectation and improving service.

Understanding all aspects of a business operation will help improve overall safety and security. It will be crucial in times of crisis for first responders and large scale coordination between different agencies and entities. When there’s a big pool of people and systems involved in operations, status and tracking data are what top management need. Moving goods economically in good times and bad and seeing a return on investment can only be accomplished through a coordinated smart transportation.

Credits: Esri Industries

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Smart CityUse Cases

Making a City Engaged and Connected: Missisauga Case Study

By launching a citywide wireless network and consolidating data from sensors and controllers all around the city, Missisauga City in Canada were able to deliver better and more visible services across people and systems.

See how they were able to make it easier for people to move around, for government services to move faster, and to make their city a much better place to live and work. Such is an example of how the Internet of Things can make cities more sustainable and efficient for living.

Credits: Cisco Canada

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