The technology behind Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interception system might seem far removed from monitoring power networks in New Zealand but mPrest Systems, the Israeli company whose software underpins Iron Dome, is the same one that last month formed a partnership with energy and communications network operator Vector, and its cofounder and CEO, Natan Barak has high expectations for the partnership.
Vector announced last month that it had secured exclusive Australasian rights to energy network monitoring, control and data analytics software from mPrest, saying it intended to use this in its own network and offer it to other power utilities.
However, according to Barak the capabilities of the mPrest technology extend well beyond power network monitoring as do the two companies’ ambitions for their Australasian partnership.
Barak told Computerworld NZ that the two were still finalising business plans but he expected that mPrest would open an office in New Zealand with a couple of years. He revealed that Vector had taken equity in mPrest and now had a seat on its board.
“We will probably open a subsidiary company in New Zealand that will sell all our services for utilities and for IoT as a whole,” he said.
He added: “We don't have a schedule yet. We are working on a business plan and a go to market strategy but I believe that over the next two years you wil see subsidiary companies dealing with the IoT business.”
He said the two were looking at opportunities well beyond the utilities sector, in particular cyber security. “This is definitely one of the verticals we will focus on and it may be that Vector will start a cyber security business.”
He said Vector would be sending its “best people” to Israel for cyber security training. “We have a lot of knowledge in Israel and we will have an incubator that will include those capabilities and they will sell this in Australia and New Zealand.”
According to Barak the key to mPrest’s technology is that it is a ‘system of systems’ that can easily integrate data from a very wide range of disparate devices and be adapted to different requirements.
“What we are giving our customers is the power to change anything and everything immediately. It is a systems of systems that is much more powerful than specific applications. If you want to achieve real optimisation, if you want to be efficient, if you want to save money if you want control of all your assets you have to get everything integrated, and that is what we are doing.”
Barak is a retired colonel from the Israeli Navy and he said the mPrest technology originated in systems developed for the Israeli Navy in the 90s.
“Back in 1991 I was assigned to start the Israeli Navy Command and Control branch. We had a problem where we had more than 10 command and control systems: one for submarines, two for missiles, others for helicopters, special forces and so on. I led the process that unified those into one platform. Today that one platform runs the whole navy, 24 x 7.
“When I retired we developed one platform that is running 24 x 7 providing very many command and control functions for the defence system. Now we are doing a huge air defence project for Great Britain but we have realised that we can take our technology and adapt it to commercial applications.”
mPrest started that journey with fleet management and Barak said its adaptability was key to its success: its Israeli customer had taken the system to South America. “They installed it by themselves in Brazil and Argentina without any software change in a week just be setting up the new rules and plugging in the new sensors,” Barak said.
“In South America they are tracking more than a million cars. Each one of them has at least five sensors so that’s millions of sensors. This is very important for IoT because very day we will see hundreds of thousands of new sensors coming in and we have to provide a platform that can plug and play those sensors and set up new rules using the data coming from those sensors immediately by the users themselves”