3 years ago

Opportunity Issue 93 - March 2020

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Connecting Stronger

Connecting Stronger together the city Smart Harnessing Cities science need smart diplomacy partners in the – Macrocomm fight is one against Covid-19: an African perspective PROFILE SONA 2020 caused a big stir when President Cyril International Ramaphosa cooperation commented in science that municipalities and innovation will be is vital able if the to Covid-19 source energy pandemic from is to Independent be defeated. Power In recent Producers weeks, (IPPs) the in South future. African The importance Department of Science this policy and shift Innovation cannot has be overstated engaged in a in series terms of of extensive the potential dialogues to liberate with its South international African businesses partners to explore from the and “load-shedding develop partnerships. nightmare” On 4 April that 2020, has plagued the Department the economy hosted in recent a conference years. call with close to 100 participants from the diplomatic community in Pretoria and At international the same partner time, municipalities organisations are to discuss going cooperation. to need capable partners to develop the capacity to take on energy supplied from different sources and ultimately achieve Smart City status. Private sector companies, too, will benefit from a partner that can introduce smart systems to reduce water and electricity costs. Such a partner would be Macrocomm, a company that has grown from humble origins to become a specialist in the smart utilities field. Opportunity spoke to CEO Sivi Moodley to find out more. How did Macrocomm begin? Macrocomm was established in 2005 with the objective of reselling voice and data contracts on behalf of the major network operators. We then evolved into an Internet of Things (IoT) company focused on engineering solutions, water management solutions, vehicle and asset tracking, fleet analytics, smart healthcare, technology, smart metering, telecommunications and training. How would you describe the nature of your business in a nutshell? Our primary objective is to consult with the customer to understand their needs and then design bespoke solutions. We believe that technology is an enabler to solve challenges faced by the customer — we do not focus on selling technology for the sake of technology. Once we consult, we provide the correct The primary IoT devices objective to be of able this to successful collect information engagement using was valuable to bolster networks. international networks and encourage the transnational We are sharing carrier-agnostic of information, and use GSM, crucial Sigfox, components Lora, Bluetooth, of the MBLT, scientific or armoury whatever in is the appropriate fight against for Covid-19. the particular The discussion use case. That built on information the participation is then of stored Dr Blade and Nzimande, processed to South ensure Africa’s that the Minister integrity of Higher of the data Education, is protected Science and and to ensure Innovation, the confidentiality virtual ministerial and safety meeting of the on clients’ cooperation data. We and then #OpenScience use our Big in a Data in the analytic fight against platform Covid-19, to provide held the by customer UNESCO with on 30 a usable March dashboard 2020. South and Africa analytics is also in actively order to contributing make appropriate to the OECD business analysis decisions of the science-policy response to Covid-19. What milestones have you passed to date? Macrocomm In his statement is one of at the the leading UNESCO IT companies conference, in South Minister Africa with Nzimande more detailed than 100 the connected extensive devices contribution a similar that the platform. South We African have national achieved system Level 1 of BBBEE innovation (Broad-Based is making Black to the Economic South Empowerment), African government’s ISO 9001 response and 45001, to Covid-19. CIDB grade 8 and our software platform has been vetted by the CSIR. These efforts include data modelling and analysis, work What on the is development your track record of diagnostic in designing tools and and drugs, and deploying societal behavioural smart utility studies. management Minister solutions? Nzimande also One of the core focus areas of Macrocomm has been designing solutions to address the critical needs of municipalities in South Africa by providing appropriate technology to accurately measure water and electricity usage for municipalities and integrating it into their billing systems. We start by doing an audit to understanding problems in the municipality and find out where the leakages and disadvantages are before deploying technology. As previously mentioned, technology is an enabler to solve problems faced by the municipality. To date we have helped municipalities considerably with their electricity and water billing using our Eureka platform as well as our smart IoT technologies in the field. We also provide utility management services, not only for municipalities, but also for private sector clients, to determine accurate water and electricity costs per production line to get to proper cost accounting. The company also provides this service for large residential estates. Macrocomm is then able to provide accurate billing to residents especially in a bulk metering scenario. Sivi Moodley, Group CEO What is your revenue assurance model and called what for are reinforced the benefits? international scientific cooperation, We emphasising provide a the fully critical managed importance service that of African aims to regional be accurate, and provide continental ease partnerships. of access to data, comply with the criteria of the Energy Regulator, provide consumer satisfaction and decrease account Covid-19 disputes. knows no We borders utilize our and in-house neither general should field science. management To deal successfully tool by job with scheduling the pandemic, understanding the global scientific exactly where community the smart must meters collaborate. are installed We need with to GPS share location. resources – We experience, provide various expertise, levels research of in-field infrastructure training as (including well as accredited cyber infrastructure) training to and the data. installer. We need We to source leverage from national local communities investments, to pool create financial jobs and resources, provide opportunities invest in the for 16 30 |

capacities of developing countries, as well as align and optimise synergies between national research agendas. Perhaps most importantly, we need to reinforce global solidarity, strengthening the coordination and leadership efforts of the United Nations and regional bodies such as the African Union and Southern African Development Community. If the desired impact is to be achieved, international cooperation in science and innovation should be underpinned by certain principles. The focus should be on the global good, not individual or institutional agendas. We can see national and global priorities converge in the recognition that Covid-19 will be overcome, only through a united response. With national capacities – including the efforts of scientists and experts – stretched beyond what is realistically possible, it is clear that international partnerships must go further than corporate social responsibility projects to add real value. Resources are limited, so any duplication of efforts would be scandalously wasteful. “Covid-19 knows no borders and neither should science. To deal successfully with the pandemic, the global scientific community must collaborate. We need to share resources.” – Daan du Toit #ScienceDiplomacy has become a popular theme for academic discussion and analysis, with experts in both science policy and international affairs agreeing that science diplomacy plays a crucial role in addressing global challenges. Covid-19 is, of course, a defining global challenge. The Royal Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science have identified three dimensions to science diplomacy, namely, science in diplomacy (informing science advice and supporting foreign policy objectives), diplomacy for science (facilitating international scientific cooperation and developing international relations to support the scientific enterprise), and science for diplomacy (scientific cooperation improving international relations). The dimensions of science in diplomacy and diplomacy for science are integral to the world’s response to Covid-19. Science for diplomacy is equally important, as solidarity across borders is needed, now more than ever, to build resilience in troubled times. PROFILE Above all, the crisis requires urgent action, so there is no time for designing instruments of cooperation from scratch or delaying matters through excessive elaborate planning. We need to improve and build on existing programmes to ensure a rapid response. Under the leadership of Minister Nzimande, the South African Department of Science and Innovation is committed to investing in such partnerships, embracing the holistic vision of open science proposed by UNESCO – ie scientific collaboration rooted in open access, open data and a science open to society. We deeply appreciate our collaborations with partners such as the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and the Regional Office for Africa of the International Science Council, with whom we are already implementing urgent response initiatives. Daan du Toit, DDG, ICR, Department of Science and Innovation #StrongerTogether was the rallying cry for the nation to unite behind South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph. It is also the message and invitation from the Department of Science and Innovation to our partners across the globe. Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation and Resources, Department of Science and Innovation. | 31

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