By Inus Dreckmeyr, CEO at Netshield South Africa
The harsh working environments that many South Africans and in fact Africans in general are faced with, can make the idea of establishing a robust network for multiple users to connect to seem like mission impossible. Especially in places like constructions sites, where there are many people working in different areas, sometimes quite far apart, who may all require a network connection but where physical infrastructure doesn’t exist or where there’s no power.
Think about the recently opened Mall of Africa during its construction. There were probably a large amount of workers, contractors and other employees that needed – and still need – a network connection on-site. What if there was a way to ensure that everyone working on-site during- and post-construction was connected through a powerful Local Area Network extension with a single investment, on a single product?
Facing tough working conditions and challenges head on
Though you may find yourself on a remote site, a bit too far from existing LAN infrastructure to connect to the business network, it’s likely that you’ll still need access to it, even if it’s just to check email. You shouldn’t have to compromise your network connection when you are working remotely, where it may not be possible to lay cables or where GSM connection is unstable.
There’s also little point in rolling out a complicated or permanent LAN infrastructure when you may only be contracted to work in the area for a short amount of time. Take for example a harbour that is faced with the challenge of reducing congestion caused by the long periods of time it takes for customs officials to preclear all goods on board ships once they’ve docked.
Wouldn’t it make sense to extend the network a little further so that the officials could be flown out to the ships to complete the preclearing of goods before ships reach the harbour? Yes it would, and it is for this exact reason that we have designed a solution that enables the extension of this and other networks in challenging and harsh working environments in order to solve unique challenges.
Working remotely with a robust LAN connection
Because mobility is king in today’s working environments, we recently developed a portable and SHEQ compliant APN Case that can be easily-carried or wheeled around (with its trolley attachment) and is ultimately a portable Wi-Fi solution that acts as an extension of a LAN within a line of site radio link (up to 6 kilometres from your existing LAN infrastructure). This ruggedised solution is ideal for the harsh South African work environments mentioned above, as well as on mines, during the building of bridges or even at a conference in the bush.
To embellish on the product itself, the APN Case is waterproof and dustproof and comes with a tracker, so that you’ll know where it is at all times, as well as GSM reporting if it is manhandled or dropped through a shock monitoring sensor. It is battery powered and will give 13 hours of continuous use between charges. System configuration is possible through GSM and it’s equipped with an external USB port for radio configuration and LAN connection. In addition to all this, the APN Case reports on battery status, radio signal strengths and the radio can be switched on and off as required.
In short, as Africans we often need to make a plan, because of the sheer scale and geography of where we find ourselves. Remote access to Wi-Fi and mobile networks is a real need, particularly as more and more systems become automated – the need to be able to report back regularly into the business systems offsite – is just about a necessity to any business.