Powering the Integrated Smart City with LoRaWAN

J. Marcus

This piece first appeared first on the official blog of RAD.

Summary Bullets:

  • The smart city is one of the key use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT), with the connected urban environment and infrastructure providing benefits to both local government and its citizens.
  • LoRaWAN is especially useful in large-scale, integrated smart city deployments because of its availability, cost, and reach.

While the public sector isn’t usually considered the most advanced technology vertical, until recently, it accounted for more Internet of Things (IoT) deployments than any other. Much of that activity has been focused on the smart city, where local governments – and their contracted agencies – have sought to use connectivity to monitor, track, or control city assets, with an overall goal of providing citizens with more efficient services.

  • Organizations Deploying Smart City Solutions: It is not just city hall connecting street furniture in large urban settings. Small towns and districts, harbors and ports, roads and motorway authorities, the owners of parking facilities in public and private settings (e.g., hospitals, universities, office buildings, and shopping centers), and water and waste management utilities are also taking advantage of connected devices to gather data, inform users, and save money on day-to-day processes that keep the city running. GlobalData’s most recent IoT connections forecast expects more than half a billion devices will be deployed as part of smart city solutions by 2023.
  • How Smart City Projects Provide Value to Communities: Smart parking is one of the most common IoT applications within the smart city, because it can provide direct benefits to both the users (real-time availability and reservations) and providers (optimized resource management). The same is true for waste management, with connected bins helping providers switch to usage-based collection (only collect when full) that reduces fuel cost, diesel pollution, and traffic congestion from inefficient collection processes of the past. Connected street lighting can also reduce energy consumption considerably, while other applications for environmental monitoring, asset tracking, equipment monitoring, and public safety can bring benefits to constituents as diverse as local residents, businesses, and even the landscape and surrounding wildlife.
  • Connectivity – LPWAN and LoRaWAN as Smart Cities Enabler: Achieving those benefits requires connecting a large number of endpoints. Street lights, roads, waste bins, and other objects number in the thousands – even in the smallest towns. Low-power WAN (LPWAN) technologies including narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), LTE-M, and LoRaWAN support large-scale connectivity for collecting sensor data for such applications, which tend to require sporadic connectivity for low-bandwidth data transfer. LoRaWAN in particular has increasingly been deployed in smart city applications due to: its use of unlicensed spectrum; the availability of standardized, low-cost modules with long battery life; and connectivity management services being available from many telecom operators and IoT solution specialists. IoT gateways use LoRaWAN to connect smart city devices to the cloud for data processing and management. With the trend toward edge computing for lower latency and higher availability, some gateways like the SecFlow-1v from RAD support more than secure networking functionality, providing the option for onboard server functionality capable of hosting third-party containers to reduce the number of boxes required. In the context of large-scale smart city deployments, this integrated gateway approach can simplify operations that rely on thousands of connected assets, while strengthening security.

Such multifunctional solutions for supporting LoRaWAN networks can be used for more than just standalone projects like parking or waste management. Increasingly, cities are approaching digitalization of public services and infrastructure in a more integrated way. In India, the Jamshedpur Utility Services Company has aggregated more than 100,000 sensors to integrate multiple data sources into a single Smart City Command Center. With a range of networked devices including street lights, utilities, and parking meters, the enhanced insights gained help reduce the city’s energy use, increase efficiency for waste management, and make construction zones safer, among other benefits (including monetizing new services). It’s an approach other cities are taking more frequently as low-power networks like LoRaWAN prove their advantages in cost and reach when it comes to supporting large-scale projects for multiple functions, device types, or citizen services.

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