Exploring LoRaWAN for Smart Cities
One of the big downfalls we’ve seen when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) within cities relates to the presence of numerous siloed deployments rather than one cohesive technology strategy. This approach means solutions often create more overhead pain than they solve, and leaves a ton of business value on the table as data gets trapped within organizational silos rather than delivering joint value to stakeholders. What ensues is the status quo, which falls short of the grand vision for Intelligent Cities that deliver services and information to the community as efficiently and effectively as possible.
That’s why we’ve been so excited to explore LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) IoT networks over the past few months. If you haven’t heard of LoRaWAN before, you may not understand why we’re so excited about this technology. At a surface level, LoRaWAN might seem like yet another IoT standard that only further complicates an already crowded solution space in the industry. However, we think the key to understanding the value this technology brings to the table is not in what it does, but rather how it does it.
Without drowning you in details, LoRaWAN is excellent because it lets organizations have sovereignty over their IoT networks and deploy third party solutions through it. Instead of ending up with a patchwork of different network silos (which are hard to manage and secure), you end up with a single robust network that can support multiple devices. And most importantly, the network owners have full control of the data pipelines - making sharing and processing data, even in real time, easier than ever!
Though we think there’s significant smart city value in private LoRaWAN networks, like the examples we’re discussing in this article, we would be remiss not to highlight the incredible open nature of LoRaWAN. Individuals and organizations can choose to host their devices through a public LoRaWAN network, such as TheThingsNetwork or Helium. Though going public gives up the network sovereignty aspect, this provides an incredible pathway for low-cost and low-friction projects - perfect for pilots, MVPs, and proofs of concept!
Over the last few months, we’ve partnered with the incredible team at SilverServers to explore LoRaWAN technology in more depth, deploying a lab environment to validate the technology and create a sandbox to test a variety of IoT sensors and gateways. Our initial deployment was a major success: the network showed remarkable stability and reliability, the team learned a ton about different IoT devices and the nuances of LoRaWAN, and the end result provided a simple and intuitive interface whereby cities could better deploy and manage IoT devices at scale.
"Working with Vivacity to construct and evaluate the LoRaWAN lab environment was challenging and rewarding for us at SilverServers. Despite our extensive experience with our own custom LoRa sensor network, we discovered immense value and a number of advantages from the LoRaWAN test deployment. The opportunity to collaborate with Vivacity enriched our understanding of LoRaWAN flexibility and helped underscore the transformative potential for everything from smart buildings and campuses to smart cities."
- Mickael Maddison, CEO, SilverServers Inc.
All in all, LoRaWAN has shown virtually limitless flexibility, extensibility, and customizability, which helps set it apart from other IoT connectivity standards when it comes to addressing the variety of challenges faced by municipalities today and in the future. From the ground up, this is a solution that can provide network sovereignty, significantly lower connectivity costs, much better battery life for sensors, and a silo-free architecture - which creates opportunities for operational effectiveness and collaboration to a degree that we haven’t seen elsewhere in the municipality space.
We’re super excited to continue building on our LoRaWAN expertise, and we look forward to seeing what it can do to improve the communities we live in today, while building a sustainable foundation for the future of cities in our increasingly connected world.