Canadian Consulting Engineer

IoT sensors help Metrolinx strike back at lightning

December 13, 2019

Operators are alerted to shut off equipment.

When lightning strikes a railroad track, the high voltage can damage the equipment that controls the track’s electronic signalling, leading to significant delays and cancelled trains. It can also threaten the safety of people working on the track.

To prevent such problems, Ontario public transportation agency Metrolinx has begun using Internet of Things (IoT) connected sensors to monitor the proximity of lightning strikes to its railway tracks—up to 200 km away—and to alert operators when they need to shut off equipment. The sensors detect lighting by measuring the difference in electrical charge between the earth and the air, but the addition of IoT technology allows them to be part of a larger, ‘smarter’ system.

The technology is provided by Sigfox Canada, a locally owned licensee of France-based Sigfox’s specification standards for chips and bay stations that receive the chips’ radio-frequency (RF) signals.

“Sigfox has a vision for a truly unified, global IoT network, with universal chip sets and no need for roaming agreements,” explains Kent Rawlings, president and CEO of Sigfox Canada. “We completed our licensing deal at the end of 2018 and began building the Canadian network in January 2019.”


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