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IoT-based system aims to prevent manhole explosions

The system uses cloud-based analytics to identify and predict conditions that may result in an incident so that preventative actions can be taken to avoid a potential disaster.

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CNIguard’s new Sentir system is being deployed in New York City by Con Edison
CNIguard’s new Sentir system is being deployed in New York City by Con Edison

US-based tech firm, CNIguard, has been working with Plextek, a UK engineering and design consultancy, to develop an IoT-based system to prevent manhole explosions and fires on city streets.

 

In the largest cities in the US, reportedly, hundreds of service manholes catch fire or explode every year, with the consequences ranging from serious injury to actual fatalities. In the UK, more than 50 incidents annually have been reported according to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

 

Underground power infrastructures

 

These explosions are primarily caused by bad weather and flooding interacting with aging underground power infrastructures. For example, a mixture of melting snow and road salt can wash into manholes, leading to the electricity cables arcing.

 

CNIguard’s new Sentir system is being deployed in New York City by energy supplier Con Edison and being trialled by others.

 

The solution works by monitoring gas, stray voltages, arcing, salinity, temperature and humidity with embedded IoT sensors underground and transmitting these signals to a dashboard on a smart phone, laptop or other device by radio, cellular, PSTN, fibre optic or satellite links.

“These issues have been approached by utility companies and networks in a reactionary way, so little has been done to predict or prevent conditions which could cause explosions”

The system uses cloud-based analytics to identify and predict conditions that may result in an incident so that preventative actions can be taken to avoid a potential disaster.

 

“Plextek’s expertise in communication and sensor systems allowed us to accelerate our development and rapidly deploy Sentir into the market,” said Dr Edward Klinger, CEO of CNIguard.

 

“[Its] work has enabled Sentir to include several different variations of environmental sensor with cellular capability powered by a reliable long-life battery or harvested power from underground cables themselves.”

 

He continued: “Up until this technology was developed, these issues have been approached by utility companies and networks in a reactionary way, so little has been done to predict or prevent conditions which could cause explosions or stray voltage events.”

 

According to CNIguard, the Sentir system can also help secure underground boxes, chambers, vaults, cabinets, kiosks and bunkers from intrusion, theft and vandalism with the help of visual and infra-red cameras, while providing flood warnings and other safety, environmental and quality monitoring.

 

Following the launch with Con Edison, CNIguard said it is looking to work with other energy suppliers in the UK and around the world to help increase the safety of city street infrastructures and networks.

 

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The CNIguard solution uses embedded IoT sensors
The CNIguard solution uses embedded IoT sensors
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