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Raspberry Pi: How We Use the Low-Cost Tiny Computer at Pod by Félix Ontañón

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has a laudable aim: to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people around the world. They do this through the Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer that costs around $35. This low-cost, high-performance computer enables people to harness the power of computing and digital technologies to solve problems that matter to them and to express themselves creatively.

These tiny computers are cheap, adaptable and extremely useful. In fact, we use Raspberry Pis for three different functions at Pod.

1. Provisioning SIMs with Multi-IMSIs

SIM cards
My colleague Anna Baczek, Account Manager at Pod Group, uses a Raspberry Pi to program our SIM printing machine (known affectionately as ‘Frank’).

In order to provide our customers with more complete coverage, better connectivity, and competitive prices, Pod M2M offers Multi-IMSI SIMs. If there is an issue on any of the networks our award-winning Multi-IMSI applet reroutes data onto a different network infrastructure. This keeps our customers’ IoT devices from going offline.

By using the Raspberry Pi to provision our SIMs we can add a personalized combination of over 600 networks and 185 countries to a single SIM card, enabling unrestricted roaming.

2. Ensuring We’re One Step Ahead of Problems on the Networks

Networks sometimes encounter problems. However, we know that for many of our customers it is vital to be connected 24/7. We want to be able to offer the highest possible level of customer service. That means knowing if there’s a problem with an MNO as soon as possible.

screenshot of the carrier watchdog dashboard
Using a Raspberry Pi and a modem I created a low-power, affordable system for checking whether a network is working as expected and reporting any problems. By identifying problems quickly we can begin to find workarounds and fixes as swiftly possible and, if necessary, contact customers to inform them of the situation.

The aim of our Carrier Watchdog Project is to be one step ahead of any issues that our customers may encounter as a result of errors on a network. We want to be able to keep our customers connected wherever they are in the world and whatever may be happening on a local network. By combining this with our Multi-IMSI SIMs, which can provision several networks on a single SIM, if we encounter problems we can switch customers to a different network in order to keep their devices connected.

3. As a Hub for the LoRaWAN Communications Antenna

Giralda Cathedral, Seville, Spain
Along with other members of Pod Group’s R&D team in Seville, I set up the ThingsNetwork Sevilla, a community which aims to popularize the LoRaWAN connectivity technology and provide the entire city with Internet of Things data connectivity. The ThingsNetworkSevilla is a community of local companies and individuals who are connecting the city to a LoRaWAN network. They’re doing this through a crowdsourced network of antennae and there’s one on the roof of Pod’s office.

We are using a Raspberry Pi in the hub for the LoRaWAN Communications Antenna that we have installed on our building. As an affordable, easy to use, small computer the Raspberry Pi was the ideal choice when we were setting up the LoRaWAN antenna.

Do You Use a Raspberry Pi in Your Work? Or in a Personal Project?

Raspberry Pis can be used for all kinds of inspiring projects. You can check out the stories page on their website to read about some of them. These tiny computers have been sent into space, used to teach kids to code and much much more. If you’re using a Raspberry Pi in an interesting way we’d love to know more – please share it with us via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Félix Ontañón

Director of Research and Innovation

Responsible for the Research and Innovation department at Pod Group, with an emphasis on IoT Connectivity, LPWANs, Artificial Intelligence and Edge Computing.

Posted: March 11, 2019