By now you’ve probably heard terms such as the Internet of Things or IoT for short. You’ve probably heard phrases such as “Digital Transformation” “Urban Innovation” “Smart Data” “Big Data” and “Smart Cities” and “Industry 4.0”, but what does this all mean and how is it relevant to you?
These all mean connectivity. We all use wifi and bluetooth on a regular basis. If you are using contactless, you are using a radio frequency based technology called Near Field Communication or NFC. We are surrounded by connectivity so surely we don’t need any more, right? Well it’s not that simple..
Wifi is typically expensive, higher power and high bandwidth which is unnecessary for small sensor devices to use and always come with a subscription overhead. This makes sensors larger, expensive to purchase with low battery life and require ongoing fees per device, just like your smart phone, watch and apps. They are also limited by the range, typically constrained to tens of meters, bluetooth is even more limited in it’s range, as is NFC. Bluetooth and NFC types of connectivity are useless for long range transmission even though they are free to use and are not suitable for objects that are mobile and in motion. This is where LoRa comes in.
LoRa is a low bandwidth, lower power solution with long range – typically 10 km or more per gateway. A gateway looks a bit like your wifi router and some solutions are able to replace your wifi router and also transmit LoRa to create a LoRa Wide Area Network aka a LoRaWAN. In fact for some time local initiator from Great Yarmouth, Ryan, held the record for the longest range LoRa ground to ground transmission at 235 km!
This means we can transmit data over vast distances for little power meaning free long range connectivity between devices and battery lives as long as 10 years!
But what IS LoRa?
LoRa is a physical chip that can transmit and receive radio frequencies. In Europe, it uses a public broadcast frequency 868MHz to do this. LoRaWAN is the protocol used to connect devices creating a network of devices that can communicate with one another through the internet which is connected to the gateway. These bandwidths are regulated even though they are free and LoRa frequencies vary dependant on your continent, using 169MHz, 433MHz & 915MHz.
What is LoRa used for?
LoRa is used to solve all sorts of tricky problems but the main advantages it has are that it can produce data in real-time with no subscription overhead – making it useful for generating data. LoRa and LoRaWAN permit inexpensive, long-range connectivity for IoT devices in rural, remote and offshore industries.
They are typically used in mining, natural resource management, renewable energy, transcontinental logistics, supply chain management, agriculture & social care but are now being rapidly adopted to monitor and solve all sorts of real world problems and social problems such as providing a service for isolated and lonely people to connect, dementia tracking, flood monitoring and so much more. This is digital transformation. This is what you use to create connected communities and innovate urban environments.
This is how you solve real problems and produce enhanced data that you can leverage to make better decisions. LoRa is part of “Industry 4.0” – it’s not the entire solution but it is rapidly becoming THE used solution. This conference is about increasing awareness, fostering skills and developing new services and devices. This conference is to discuss the uses of LoRaWAN, it’s about informing business across all sectors that LoRa and LoRaWAN are here, operating in your cities and towns. Operating in rural areas across Norfolk. Right. Now.
The UK’s Things Connected combined forces with The Things Network creating the UK’s largest LoRaWAN network and it’s here and it’s free for you to use. Cities such as Norwich, Manchester, Hull & York are getting onboard with big aspirations to give you a publicly accessible network enabling them to offer better and more cost effective services. Businesses have been leveraging LoRa for a few years now with leading names such as Google getting involved recently joining ranks with IBM, Orange, ARM, Cisco & more, the LoRa Alliance list is becoming extensive.
What is The Things Network?
The Things Network started off with a Kickstarter in 2015 when founder Weinke set out determined to create a decentralised, crowd-sourced network for the internet of things based on LoRa. The kickstarter was a success and in early 2017 The Things Network realised it’s goal of creating an affordable gateway and a supporting platform for creating a global network with the release of its own gateway and the launch of its platform.
Today The Things Network operates in 84 countries and has over 45,000 active users and that community has deployed almost 5,000 gateways. This is a rapidly growing community with hundreds of market ready devices available to buy. The Things Network is operating in the UK in partnership with Digital Catapult – this means that over 400 gateways across the England are live right now. There are more in Wales and are starting to spring up in Scotland too. The Things Network is already being used in the UK to monitor water quality on site in medical facilities and research laboratories. It’s being used to track water levels to create a warning system in Oxford. It’s tracking lorries across Europe.
Join us at Reading Town Hall on October 15th – 16th for The Things Conference to learn about LoRa, to be inspired by its ability to solve real problems. Meet businesses offering a wide variety of LoRa enabled LoRa Alliance certified devices that you can start using to solve your real problems. Learn how your business can get involved in using or offering LoRaWAN based services. Learn about Open Data, Ethical Data Collection with GDPR in mind and Context Analysis. Hear from businesses and local authorities who are
using this technology to solve their problems. Get hands on in our workshops and learn skills required to start developing your own LoRaWAN based solutions. Find out more about low powered devices and hear directly from The Things Network.
It’s Uses Include
Supply Chain Management
Car Park Occupancy
Quality Assurance Systems
Environmental Water Quality