SCADA and Smart Cities

Article Published – April 2018

A Smart City, by definition, is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information used to manage assets and resources efficiently.

This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets. This data is processed and analysed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.

Smart City

A Smart City system is made up of a host of complex individual systems targeting niche verticals. This compounds the problem of obtaining a holistic view and deriving the benefits on offer by very few companies than can deliver a complete view. Adroit Technologies offer the perfect software platform to achieve this integration and is an obvious choice for cities wishing to start this journey.

The Adroit Smart UI Portal and the related Adroit SCADA, the Adroit Alarm Management and Big Data Analytics and Reporting platform, Adroit SCADA Intelligence are a perfect integration platform for a City to be able to begin this important journey to digitisation.

Why create a Smart City

There are only three reasons why City management would start a Smart City project.

  • It is legislated.
  • There is a cost benefit.
  • National politics may influence a decision.

The challenge is balancing the reasons against a budget and defining the return on investment – Is it monetary, social or political? From the beginning, it is important to choose the assets to be managed and to clearly define the outcomes in order to ensure that rollout is handled in a professional manner. Cities need to avoid a “Big Bang” and rather choose a phased approach as a big bang approach will almost definitely lead to failure and could become a political controversy.

Early Adopters

We are currently in the “early adopters” phase for using IIoT in Smart Cities. Adroit Technologies has recently signed a partnership agreement with SqwidNet, the licensed SIGFOX IoT network operator in South Africa. The partnership opens up excellent opportunities for IIoT application and service providers to use the cloud-based SCADA and industrial-automation platforms offered by Adroit Technologies. Data from sensors and devices can now be seamlessly served up to the Adroit-hosted platform environment via the SIGFOX network.

Adroit as it stands can deliver on almost every IIoT requirement. We have systems and sensors running in the cloud on a standard Adroit bringing back data. Our new generation GIS interface and the object model is ready to support context based GIS and location-based performance. So it is possible now for companies to monitor, in near real-time, where movable assets are in the field, locate personnel and have this information integrated into the plant SCADA system. Adroit Smart SCADA is implemented in 75% of all municipal markets in South Africa using PLC’s and RTU systems. It is currently used in water and waste water management, traffic management, electrical distribution management, automated billing for gas and water and asset monitoring and management.

Working Demo

As part of our Sigfox Partnership and IoT digital transformation, Adroit Technologies has created an online live demo to represent some partners Sigfox devices. We are willing to accommodate any Partners that want to display their products that can contribute towards building a Smart City demo as part of the initiative.

The working demo is in the cloud with all the sensors that are being monitored for the demo. The link must be opened in Internet Explorer simply because we use the Microsoft Technology called ClickOnce. In this demo, you will be able to navigate to a map that contains sensors. Double-clicking on the sensor allows you to see more details about the measurements that are being analysed by the sensor.


An example displayed on the demo is Manhole status monitoring.

Here are some of the reasons for manholes to be monitored:

  • Unauthorised opening of the manholes.
  • Reduction of theft of manhole covers.
  • Monitoring of manholes, covers opened or closed during maintenance.
  • Detection of sewer overflow.

Using a sensor allows you to monitor and plan the maintenance of the manholes and the manhole covers and also ensure that security-related issues such as theft are reduced or eliminated. In the live demo, it is possible to see if the manhole cover is open or closed. In a smart city, the technician will be notified to assist with closing the open manhole.

The swimming pool sensor is also a useful sensor and is demonstrated on our online demo. This sensor measures temperature, pH and ORP (Oxidation-Reduction Potential) running in a real swimming pool. These sensors may be controlled remotely and relay information regarding the swimming pool conditions. A complete pool water monitoring system typically includes a pH sensor, an ORP sensor, and a temperature sensor. A pH sensor specifically measures the hydrogen-ion activity in water-based solutions, indicating its acidity or alkalinity expressed as pH. The ORP sensor measures the ability of a solution to act as an oxidising or reducing agent and in the swimming pool, the ORP Sensor is used to measure the oxidizing ability of chlorine.

Focus on the Data Acquisition Layer

The most critical layer to focus on is the data acquisition layer and ensuring quality data. The quality of the output is determined by the quality of the input. Reliability of the data is fundamental to the success of any Smart City project. This layer is also the most complex as it is subject to network and sensor choice, vagaries of power and other physical and environmental influences. Networks and/or sensors can be unreliable as most are subject to issues such as weather, electrical interference etc.

The physical world is almost always not the domain experience of the IT people. It requires a deep understanding of the inconsistencies of the real-time world. A City needs to ensure they choose a partner that really understands this. The success of any digital Smart City Project will depend on an awareness of the challenges of a real-time world and how to solve them.

Network and Sensors

In the Adroit Technologies experience, the choice of the network should be driven by the choice of sensors available to support the data acquisition requirements of the project which is a bottom-up approach. The network should be a recognised viable IoT network for example, Sqwidnet, LoRa and NBIoT.

The sensors must meet and offer the following criteria:

  • Be commercially available and certified for the network of choice and national regulator (ICASA).
  • Tamper detection data through compliant IoT radio networks.
  • GPS and non-GPS hardware options.
  • Environmental and Protection ratings suitable for the proposed purpose. Ex Rugged IP67/8 when used in environments that are exposed to flooding etc.
  • Fully internal battery powered.
  • Long range connectivity – typical of any IoT or Telemetry Network.
  • Low power design with up to 10-year autonomy.
  • Small, compact and easy to install and conceal.
  • Battery end of life alarm.
  • Over temperature alarm.
  • Tamper detect alarm.

Most sensors and networks offer some stand-alone system. It is important that the backend of these systems are open and can make the data available to the integration platform chosen.

Various open technologies would be:

  • OPC UA
  • MQTT
  • Network specific – Sigfox, Lora, NBIoT
  • Most cloud services – Azure, Amazon or dedicated cloud-hosted services through some API offering.

Adroit Technologies offers cloud hosting solutions so there is no need for an ISP.

Adroit SCADA

The Adroit SCADA I/O Server can handle thousands of sensors. It allows the user to configure alarms and events, historical trends and stores these in relational databases for further processing within the business and analytical systems. The results are presented from these systems to the operational staff in real-time for them to use and achieve even more value.

With drivers and knowledge of almost all of the communications and hardware required to do a Smart City, using Adroit SCADA is a cost-effective solution for the average City using communications drivers from a top-down approach. The product has over 150 communications drivers to talk to all types of equipment in the field.

Performance Anywhere is the HTML 5 mobile front-end software that monitors important applications of a building or a plant and has the ability to integrate custom mobile solutions. The user can have access to, and monitor, important data anytime, anywhere and from any terminal. The manager, engineer, the maintenance worker and the operator can: access and monitor data in real-time, view data on alarms, trends, energy, quality, production information etc.

The Adroit Alarm Management software is an enterprise level alarm and event management and reporting solution and works seamlessly with the Adroit SCADA system. This allows the operational staff to identify problematic assets and to respond that much quicker to potential problems as these problems can be identified and then passed into incident management systems very easily.

Supported Interfaces

Adroit SCADA has a seamless integration into all popular PLC’s and RTU’s on the market. It supports a large library of protocols for communication to front-end devices. Some of the protocols that are supported are Mitsubishi, Siemens, Modbus, Omron, Alan Bradley, BACNet, MQTT compatible devices and SNMP.

Adroit SCADA Intelligence

The Adroit SCADA Intelligence product is essentially a Business Intelligence and Reporting software product built on the Microsoft BI platform. The difference is that by using the software in conjunction with the Adroit SCADA means users save massive amounts of time in scrubbing and building the large data warehouse and multi-dimensional cube, so necessary to derive insights and greater values out of all the data gathered in the field. This is because as an integrated solution it is configured rather than customised or built from scratch.


A City also needs to not only look at capital outlay and initial costs but also the life-cycle costs. Any annual maintenance or service costs that would be associated with the proof-of-concept (POC) or large scale implementation needs to be factored into any selection or decision.

Smart Cities are a reality and can be successfully built. Being a new concept, it is better to have a POC phased approach with incremental wins offers flexibility to try things out, change and modify selections all the way across the value chain prior to a large scale roll-out.

Success breeds success and the value of rolling out a successful Smart City project using Adroit as a platform offers the lowest risk and highest potential opportunity for success which will lead to a leaner and more efficient city management and ultimately happier citizens.