Programmes & Initiatives

Community weather and hydrographical station - October 2007 Update

As part of our ongoing R&D effort in the field of natural hazard warning and environmental monitoring, ALLIT is putting continued effort into the development of cost effective, mass produced community level monitoring stations. In spite of the urgency of the matter, project submissions and extensive awareness campaigns the last 12 months have yielded no support by local universities or specialized GOs such as NECTEC. Starting this intiative last year our team had contacted many organizations in Thailand on the topic and we are happy to see that some are trying to develop new concepts for cheaper infrastructure based on our design and system proposals. 
 
However, we believe that commercial (mass) production of such devices is best served by private industry as it will provide a greatly improved pricing structure and savings for the tax payer. Furthermore, it will support local R&D and engineering firms and help to create jobs rather than to drain substantial amounts of funds in endless showcase projects subsidized by the public.
 
In this context, ALLIT has teamed up with individuals in industry, science and the public sector willing to support the cause of building a inexpensive sensor products for a fraction of the price of existing systems and providing 'Tambol-ready' location-based services for the public at large without the need of lengthy project cycles. Today, the initiative can draw from a large pool of knowledge and extensive experience provided by distinguished scientists and engineers as well as the latests technology provided by industry leading corporations.

We hope that the later will also gain public support as it would provide a quantum leap forward in protecting the public from such risks as flash floods, mudslides or other natural disasters as well as environmental hazards caused by pollution.
 


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 October 2007 )


 

Natural Hazard Warning System for Thailand

This year's raining season has brought record floods to many regions of the country. Central Thailand is especially hard hit. Once again natural hazards have claimed the lives of many people and caused considerable economic damage.
 
I recall the record floods of 1995 and while technology has made great progress little has been done to build up a national warning centre for  natural hazards that could provide accurate and high-quality information in real time to enable timely evacuation of people in affected areas. In similar events in Europe much fewer people have been harmed because of better information and organization.
 
In this context, ALLIT has offered its support to NECTEC to provide its UTS wireless sensor network technology and UNS positioning systems to government agencies such as the RID and TMD. ALLIT has offered NECTEC to collaborate on the establishment of a national data centre for collecting real-time data from remote monitoring stations. This data will be processed into advanced information products accessible via Internet and provided to police, military, provincial authorities, rescue organizations and the public at large.

This way vital time can be saved in disaster managment and better coordination of relief efforts by accurate positioning, tracking and navigation will speed up the emergency response.
 
The technology is produced locally in Thailand with sensor chipsets developed in Khon Kaen and at collaborating labs at various universities. Different from existing monitoring concepts the new sensors are much cheaper than imported technology and use self organizing mesh-network features that are more fault-tolerant. This allows installation in larger quantities all over the country. The later will enable us to monitor larger areas at lower maintenance and operating cost.
 
The information provided by the different sensors includes inter alias
  hydrographic information for flooding and drought
 seismic information for earthquakes and landslides
 environmental data for pollution monitoring
 meteorological data for severe weather monitoring
 geolocation information for mobile monitoring and station setup
 
The above will - together with the Universal Sensor Protocol and UTS Server - provide critical data for modeling, analyzing and predicting natural hazards and eventually lead to more accurate early warning systems.
 


Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 October 2006 )


 

Community Weather and Hydrographical Station

 In October 2006, ALLIT had started the initiative entitled ‘Natural Hazard Warning System for Thailand’ and offered its assistance to Thai GOs on technology transfer, systems development and human resources development. The objective was to address the current constraints and limitations of environmental monitoring stations for wide-spread deployment at the sub-district (Tambol) level by means of cheaper, more modern designs and technology ‘Made in Thailand’ using the highest equipment and production standards.
 
The proposed project entitled 'Embedded systems for environmental monitoring, water management and natural hazard warning - Phase 1 - Community Weather and Hydrographical Station' is part of this initiative.
 
The station features a wide spectrum of meteorological, gephysical and envirnonmental sensor options but comes at a fraction of the price of existing systems. The fully automated standard model of the weather station includes
temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, dew point
wind (direction, velocity)
sunlight (lux meter)
rain fall
 
while the hydrographical unit includes
current (velocity)
water level
water temperature
conductivity
Oxygen
pH
REDOX potential
Carbon dioxide
turbidity
 
Options inlude

Web cam
Display
air quality sensor cascade (O2, O3, CO2, NOx, CO, dust / particles)
LDS
 
Future geophysical options include

 seismometer and geophones
 
In this respect, ALLIT has joined forces with the Department of Geotechnology, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University to do in-depth research, planning and preparation for a community weather and hydrographical station.
 
The parties have assessed the scientific foundation, public demand and high-impact beneficiaries as well as economic and social viability of the system as proposed in this document.
 
If put into reality, this project could greatly benefit the public by being able to deploy 50-100 station for the currentl price of a single weather station as budgeted in Thai GOs budgets for 2007 / 2008. In fact ht project could represent the single largest budget saving in Thai history resulting in a total saving of over 426 million Baht for the Thai tax payer.
 
The project has now been submitted to Thai governmental agencies for funding. More information will be made available soon on this site.
 
 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 May 2007 )


 

ESTA Reform Club

 me a brief abstract about the ESTA Reform Club.
 
 
I have always been a great enthusiast for architecture and design - it surrounds us and shapes us. Probably nothing is more defining to our daily lives than buildings and structures. While humans build them for other humans our needs greatly differ - they depend on such things as climate, space requirements, cultural aspects and have changed greatly over time.
 
 
Thousands of years of architecture, building technology and engineering, design and arts have provided us with a massive treasure of ideas with each period - even the cave men's home - contributing to housing as we see it today. Yet, the industrial scale of housing in the 21st century faces many challenges - cost, energy efficiency and life cycle being some of the top most. Something that couldn't be more evident than in current architecture in Thailand where a massive number of houses is required each year as urbanization puts cities to their development limits.
 
 
While some people may regard this as a topic for ecologists or designer or artists the reality is that progress in architecture also depend on economical factors and practical concepts. As such architects and civil engineers have to realize visions for developers mostly under tightly controlled commercial paradigms. Surely there are exceptions, but ESTA is more about promoting ecofriendly building standards on wider scale than to producing a single outstanding piece of architecture in an enitre city.
 
 
My initial intent was to look over the horizon because I feel that architecture in Thailand has come to a dead end with most designs being frozen in time somewhere in the late 1980ies to mid 1990ies. Since then little innovation has occurred and with the exception of paint and insulation materials few things have been done to improve cost of energy or create longer lasting and more eco-friendly designs.
 
  
But architecture has to evolve and adapt to the challenges of increasing energy cost and increasing material prices. Also home owners have become more selective and the housing market will see difficult times ahead as credits remain tightly controlled and the economy is slowing down significantly.
 
 
In conclusion I think that smart and eco-friendly housing represents a niche market with ample opportunity to outperform the declining trend by innovation. From a company perspective the Genius House pretty much represents our contribution to this concept. The Genius House Concept is a fusion between architecture and technology and combines active and passive energy saving methods
 
 
But with new technology come challenges in know-how and expertise.
 
 
In the field of energy saving and material science we can revert to a large network of experts from Europe while we have all knowledge for electronics in house.  As you might know, Austria, Germany and Denmark are at the forefront in clean energy and energy efficient housing in the world.


Some of the technologies can be directly applied to the Thai housing market, some will require adaptation to local climate, architecture or localization of design to match buyer’s taste. In many cases there is also the opportunity to produce building materials and manufacture smart products locally which will allow to bring down the cost of eco-friendly solutions to reflect the buying power of the local customer.
 
 
Quintessentially, we have to step out of the shadows of an idealess mainstream to redefine modern architecture for the Thai housing market. In doing so we can set the trend and shape the future at the forefront of technology and as leading force in the industry instead of following the flow of endlessly copied reference designs. I like to see this as a new school of thought for Eco-friendly Sustainable Technology and Architecture - the ESTA Reform Club. Surely, it’s a long way from concept to reality but every new idea has to start at some time and clearly the present trend in architecture cannot continue without facing major obstacles. A famous architect recently said ‘post modernism is dead’.
 
 
It is often argued that new designs cannot be marketed if they contrast too much with the mainstream but the history of architecture proves the opposite as in every period the same has been claimed by the more conservative forces in the discipline. The very fact that the American Dream House could be marketed and sold to home owners in a country with predominantly hot tropical climate is a good example of just how much the consumer’s taste of any period is influenced by marketing. Thailand is also notoriously fast to adapt new trends and - as past examples have shown – consumer acceptance is usually much higher than expected – even for radical fashion trends.
 
 
The ESTA paradigm allow a synthesis of the best parts of building knowledge from different periods of architecture while allowing for the influx of new materials and technology – only that this time technology becomes a part of the identity and concept of the building and not an accessory. ESTA designs can be as aesthetically pleasing as neo-classical designs, as clean as Bauhaus, as warm as a Swiss Chalet or as luxurious as  a Venetian palace. They can also be as futuristic and revolutionary as essays in bio-mechanic building designs. Yet, in all aspects the ESTA seeks coexistence and harmony with nature – not conquest or confrontation. It seeks longevity of structure and quality of materials but not at the expense of nature. ESTA pursues the ambitious targets of Architecture 2030 in reducing the carbon footprint and energy consumption of buildings while trying to steadily increase the use of renewable, recyclable and biodegradable materials for their construction.
 
 
On our side – the side of technology providers, experts, inventors and consultants – we have to make sure that ideas that have matured into concepts find their realization in the real estate industry. Only if the later is willing to accept the challenge, invest in new ideas and take risks can this new trend become a visible reality and draw the attention of the public. And only if the later proves to be possible can Thailand ever achieve world class architecture and move up to the ranks of those leading the industry. Else it would prove that - apart from building expensive – our country cannot contribute to the history of architecture anymore with nothing left but romantic memories of ancient times when we were still shaping and creating and imprinting our architectural heritage onto the history books of the world.
 
 
With risk also comes reward as pioneering a new style of living will help to create knowhow and build up the reputation of a company – something that I would like to be acknowledged beyond the borders of our country.
 
 
I am convinced that many real estate developers will join in on the challenge and that we might see the first signs of progress transforming into smarter buildings soon.
 
Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 October 2008 )


ALLIT joins ARCHITECTURE 2030

Buildings consume over half of the world's energy and Thailand is no exception. With energy demand in Asia skyrocketing CO2 output in our part of the world is rapidly overtaking the output of other industrialized countries. However, climate change is a global issue and knows no borders.
 
With its dependence on seasonal monsoon cycles and vulnerability to El Nino and La Nina climatic cycles which - if further amplified - could bring extreme cycles of pronouced droughts and floods, Thailand shares a significant risk caused by global warming with other nations.
 
At the same time we have to understand that our economy is at risk from ever rising energy cost - a cost that could be reduced significantly by buiding smarter, greener - more energy efficient buildings. These building techniques do by no means have to come at a high price as a lot of the technology needed for that is available in Thailand. What we have to accomplish is to increase the awareness about the problem and to provide affordable solutions for saving precious energy.
 
If building operators and home owners alike see the potential cost savings of building green then architects, land lords, real estate companies - even the ordinary home owner - will follow the demand to reduce ever rising operating cost. Today, airconditioning already has Thailand spend as much on cooling as other nations spend on heating.
 
Only if the awareness about eco-friendly housing solutions can be combined with the understanding of its economic viability will public demand drive legislation to follow in on the issue.
 
This is why ALLIT has decided to join the outstanding Architecture 2030 Challenge. Architecture 2030 was founded by Edward Mazria, one of the pioneers in passive solar buildings. You can find more information on the website at www.architecture2030.org and in the second part of this article under 'Read more'.

 

I would like to tell you why I feel that it is important that a high-tech company joins Architecture 2030. 
 The ever larger number of electronic devices already contributes significantly to the energy consumption of buildings, yet a lot of this consuption can be eliminated by smarter designs.
 
Green home automation systems will play an important role in monitoring and regulating our cooling and heating needs and, thus help to reduce our energy bill. The UTS Carrot Sensor line is one such example as it helps you to control the climate in your building and to automate the exchange of used and fresh air. In doing so it can make use of day-night temperature differences, automate sunshades and fans and control airconditioning more efficiently. Carrot Sensor can effectively control ANY electrical device running at 12VDC, 110 VAC, 230VAC or 380 VAC.

The designs are ecofriendly, affordable, upgradable, repairable and contain no harmful materials. ALLIT is one of the first companies in Thailand to take back your used electronics free of charge to dispose of them properly. We also focus on longevity of our products with product warranties ranging from 3 to 5 years. Different from other products, our electronic designs are highly modular such that defect electronic components can be easily exchanged without much effort, thus significantly reducing the amount of electronic waste produced.

Many of you may have had to throw away an entire device just because of the failure of a small inexpensive component. We have become a throw away society and a large part of the industry has adapted to that. Yet as the consumer you are often asked to pay the price since producers build their devices to last just a year or two so they can sell you a new one soon. With electronics in buildings this means high cost of maintenance and high total cost of ownership. Also lack of upgradability and modularity means that your system will have to be exchanged entirely when old components are no longer available and new systems are not backwards compatible - a nightmare for every building operator.

The Carrot Sensor is completely different as it is very neutral and open to new technologies or upgrades with new components - even from third parties that means other vendors. To maximize compatibility ALLIT applies open standards and will make its interface components available as open source to other integrators.
 
Intelligent lighting solutions combine energy efficient lighting technology such as LED lighting or fluorecent lamps with electronic ballasts and sensors that help you save energy. ALLIT offers a wide range of intelligent lighting products under the Tukky Lamp series - technology that is powerful enough to control thousands of lighting circuits and bright enough to even replace TV studio spots with LEDs that consume 1/5 to 1/10 of the energy of a halogen spot. In addition they offer advanced features such as

- RGB color mixing for LEDs
- dimming even for fluorescent lamps
- full computer control via virtually any notebook, PC, PDA or smart phone
- a full range of sensor options such as body heat detection, daylight detection, light barriers, ultrasonic or radar

This makes sure no lights are on when noone is in the room.
 
Monitoring of energy consumption is an important step towards developing an energy saving strategy, yet few people actually know what devices in their building consume what amount of energy. Carrot Sensor can help you to monitor the individual power consumption of a device or an entire electrical circuit - at minimum overhead.

ALLIT is one of the few companies that provides you with free software to calculate your actual savings as well as your monitoring overhead. Our sensors implement solar power and zero-Watt switching technologies and are extremely low power.

Indoor room climate and outdoor weather monitoring also helps you in finding problems with your insulation and suggest the most effective ventilation plans for any given climate condition.
 
As part of our technological portfolio ALLIT is also developing alternative energy technology. Our hybrid solar thermal windpower unit is suitable for tropical climates with relatively low windspeeds and can be installed on roofs in urban areas offering capacities of between 2.5 kW and 25 kW at a price of 1/4 / kWh of current photovoltaic systems. The system can operate at very low wind speeds of only around 1.5 m/s.

This way builders can further reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings while providing a source of emergency power that is totally independent from the grid.
 
Our research in passive ventilation technology for buildings in tropical climates has also yielded a highly efficient mechano-bionic design which increases the airflow and helps to cool temperatures under the roof. Even under wind conditions around 5 km/h the airflow is increased so much (> 1 cbm) that the ventilation effect can be used to remove significant amounts of excess heat from all over the building. The heat can also be used to heat water to around 60 - 65°C or drive a 2.5 kW generator. Under high wind conditions the design effectively stabilizes roof constructions actively preventing damage to the roof.
 
In addition to the above patent pending technologies our upcoming passive solar drying systems for tropical climates are designed to reduce energy cost in industrial and domestic drying applications. Since they do not depend on electricity and can store energy over a period of many days the system even works when it is raining outside.
 
Finally, we have to take a step into the right direction and combine the wisdom of energy efficient traditional building techniques with innovations in new materials to reverse the trend of ever more buildings that are only inhabitable because of airconditioning.
 
Many of you may have noticed the cooler room climate in traditional Thai houses with their high windows and steep roofs. The high windows effectively let hot air escape from under the ceiling while the steep roofs reflect most of the heat sidewards with good updraft for the heat while openings in the side of the gable effectively ventilate hot air from beneath the roof. With the arrival of the American Dreamhouse architecture that has dominated housing for the past 2 decades this old wisdom has been lost - the new designs trap heat under the roof and the concrete roof tiles store a lot of energy which is reradiated well into the night.
 
New architectures have to combine designs which are in harmony with the local climatic conditions and provide the lowest possible energy cost.

One way to further reduce the carbon footprint of current buildings is to make use of energy efficient building materials of local origin such as insulation made from clay and stabilized coconut fiber or unburned cemented Laterite bricks which provide good stability, insulation and moisture regulating properties. Such materials are more environmentally friendly and combine low cost with easy low-energy production methods - unlike petrochemical products and burned bricks used today.
 
Clearly, to create awareness, mature and commerialize these new building solutions, market these products and improve customer acceptance are key challenges for architects. Very often the first challenge might be to understand the need for change and to overcome reservations and resistance from marketing that has so far shot in on a few mainstream architectural reference designs for housing in the Kingdom.

ALLIT is offering its assistance to real estate developers, civil engineering companies and architects that are ready to taking the challenge to develop affordable, eco-friendly and energy saving buildings. In doing so we can contribute products and know-how, revert to a wide network of international experts from many fields as well as build relevant capacity in a short period of time.
 
We firmly belief that with energy cost rising rapidly the economic viability of energy saving building will pave the way for wider acceptance of carbon friendly or neutral technologies. By lowering operating cost and integrating the above mentioned technologies into new buildings rather than retrofitting, cost savings will be larger as installation cost drops while amortization time for investments will be shorter.
 
The challenge is on.
 

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 13 October 2008 )