Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

How M2M monitoring helped a sea life sanctuary come back from disaster better than ever

Steve Rogerson
February 18, 2015
On a dark day in December 2013, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary was the victim of a huge tidal surge that swept along the east coast of the United Kingdom. Sea water rushed into sanctuary, destroying habitats and stopping life support systems for more than 2500 creatures. At the height of surge tides the sanctuary was left submerged under almost one metre of water.
The aquatic residents were saved by Sea Life staff and volunteers who worked through the following days sending livestock to temporary accommodation across England. Once empty, the task of rebuilding started and the centre stayed closed for ten months as every display was stripped out and completely refurbished. This £3m project has culminated in a brand new Sea Life Sanctuary, part of the growing Merlin entertainments group which has 100 attractions in 22 countries.
During renovations Sea Life became aware that there was an opportunity for improved monitoring of the aquatic systems and water. Seneye, a small but fast growing UK start up, came to the attention of the Sea Life team whose products are widely used in the domestic aquarium market. Seneye produces a small optical USB sensor that allows temperature, ammonia, pH, light and water levels to be data logged. These small devices connect to the cloud where users can see the history, and alerts can be sent worldwide. It allows round-the-clock monitoring and alarms for all aquarists, which gives them a real peace of mind.
“Getting stability in a new aquarium is paramount to the health of its inhabitants and no easy task, ” said Matt Stevenson, managing director at Seneye. “This can prove a real headache when you have 25 new aquariums and filters to setup. Our unique system allows for accurate data logging and real time alerts if potential issues arise.”
Specifying that any IT system should be totally standalone and not connected to the Sea Life network also meant a challenge for Seneye’s head of engineering; John Wright. “The challenge of connecting the sensor systems to the internet was not going to be easy,” he said. “The centre is located at a beach front location with poor phone signal strength. Having evaluated alternative options, only Range XD’s WiBe delivered the broadband performance we required, in this challenging location.”
Chippenham, UK, based Range XD designs and manufactures mobile broadband products, which both extend network coverage and increase data speeds. The initial four products – WiBe, WiBe Extreme, WiBe Enterprise and WiBe Marine – incorporate patented antenna technology that boosts performance without the need for special alignment to the mobile network.
Andrew Fox, the chief executive officer of Range XD, said: “We are delighted that Seneye selected WiBe for such a key element of their unique monitoring. The revolutionary, patented antenna technology used in WiBe was specifically designed by us to improve performance in locations with poor signal strength, such as Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.”
The Seneye system incorporating WiBe is now installed fully working and providing real-time information to the staff even when they are off site.