3 min reading
15 November 2021
15 November 2021
LoRaWAN® Most Common Applications And Use Cases
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of millions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet, measure, monitor, and provide rich data. Today the IoT consists of many loosely connected networks, each of which solves its own problems. For example, in an office building, several LoRaWAN® products could be deployed at once: to control air conditioners, heating systems, lighting, security, and other IoT applications.
These IoT networks can operate according to different standards and combining them into one network is not a trivial task. Low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) technologies are capable of supporting a large number of Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. While several LPWAN technologies exist, Long Range (LoRa technology) and its network architecture LoRaWAN®, is currently the most adopted technology. LoRaWAN public and private networks operate under the LoRaWAN standard. Internet of Things network based on LoRaWAN provides a large variety of physical layer communication settings, such as bandwidth, spreading factor, coding rate, and transmission frequency. These settings impact throughput, reliability, and communication range.
What Is The Difference Between LoRa And LoRaWAN® networks?
LPWAN (Low-power Wide-area Network) is a wireless wide area grid technology that interconnects low-bandwidth, battery-powered IoT devices with low bit rates over long ranges. There are several options for building an LPWAN network, but LoRaWAN® and NB-IoT technologies have shown the greatest dynamics and will receive the largest LPWA market share in the coming years.
LoRaWAN® defines the communication protocol and system architecture for the grid while the LoRa® physical layer enables the long-range communication link. The protocol and grid architecture have the most influence on the battery lifetime, the network capacity, the quality of service, the security of asset tracking data, and the variety of applications served by the network.
LoRa, in turn, is a radio signal transmission protocol that employs a chirped, multi-symbol format to convey data. In essence, these chips are conventional ISM band radio chips that can convert radio frequency to bits using LoRa (or other modulation types like FSK) without writing code. Outside of wide-area communications, LoRa technology is a lower-level physical layer technology employed in various applications.
The LoRaWAN® protocol is based on the LoRa radio modulation method and has a low consumption of power wide-area networking protocol. It manages communication between end-node IoT devices and network gateways and connects devices to the internet via wireless connections. LoRaWAN® is a point-to-multipoint networking protocol. It’s not just about the radio waves; it’s about how they interact with LoRaWAN® gateways to provide functions like encryption and identification.
How does LoRaWAN® Work?
At their most fundamental level, radio technologies like LoRaWAN® are simple. The best analogy for the LoRaWAN® network is a cellular network. LoRa-based devices have a module that connects with a gateway, which is a local central location. Consider how your phone sends and receives data via a cell tower. The gateway acts as a conduit between the devices and the server. The network server uses the Internet (possibly a Wi-Fi connection) to communicate with the gateway and instruct it to interact with the IoT devices. In other words, the network server is responsible for deleting duplicate data packets, confirming data integrity, and executing security checks of supply chain data or any other important informational blocks. Furthermore, nodes in the star architecture do not need to listen for messages from other nodes all of the time. Therefore, they may “sleep” for the majority of the time, lowering their energy usage, which makes low-power LoRaWAN sensors so cost-effective.
Advantages of LoRaWAN® network
There are many advantages of a LoRaWAN network. First of all, the use of this network will significantly improve your supply chain management and simplify a lot of service processes since it transfers data very fast compared to Wi-Fi, and it is much more secure. In addition to allowing the use of remote sensing devices, the LoRa grid can also be used to monitor industrial processes. The range of the LoRa network is ten miles (15 kilometers) in rural areas and three miles (5 kilometers) in urban environments, which cannot be even compared to Wi-Fi coverage. Another advantage of LoRaWAN-based IoT solutions is that they use very little energy to transmit data packets. It is also possible to use a single gateway to monitor a large number of common applications.
Below you may find some of the key benefits of LoRaWAN-based IoT solutions, relevant for most spheres:
- Long Range and Coverage: Its range, which may reach up to 15 kilometers in LOS, is unrivaled by any other communication protocol, including Wi-Fi, cellular networks, and others.
- Low Power: LoRa delivers ultra-low power radios, making it ideal for devices that need to survive ten years or more on a single charge.
- Low-cost hardware: LoRaWAN® infrastructure is more cost-efficient than other networks, together with its end-device radios. Furthermore, various open-source versions of infrastructures such as gateways are being created, further lowering expenses.
- High Capacity: A single LoRa gateway might link thousands of NB IoT devices and common applications.
- In comparison to a simple Wi-Fi connection, LoRaWAN is less time-consuming and can reduce costs of a service.
Wi-Fi and an unlicensed spectrum are integral to the IoT. Wi-Fi allows devices to connect to the internet, while unlicensed spectrum provides a way for devices to communicate without needing a license. There are several classes of LoRaWAN that use these technologies: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A is a simple ALOHA system since it is entirely asynchronous; this implies that the end nodes don’t have to wait to communicate with the gateway for a specific time. Instead, they broadcast whenever they need to and then go inactive until then. You could fill every time slot with a message if you had an eight-channel system so that it is flawlessly synchronized.
Messages may be transmitted down to battery-powered nodes using Class B. Every 128 seconds, the gateway sends out a beacon. Because all LoRaWAN® base stations are slaves to a single pulse-per-second clock, they all emit beacon messages simultaneously (1PPS); this implies that at the start of every second. Every GPS satellite in orbit delivers a message, allowing time to be synced throughout the world.
Beacons are a great way to ensure reliable communication. The beacons will automatically align the internal clock of the devices in the network. If the LoRaWAN grid is connected to a gateway, it must be protected against lightning and EMP. A high-quality gateway should include a built-in GPS timing source and an Ethernet port. This way, the device will work even if it undergoes some negative outer influence.
Class C permits nodes to listen and send downlink messages at any time continuously. Because it requires a lot of energy to maintain a node fully awake and operate the receiver at all times, typically, this is employed for AC-powered applications.
The density of LoRaWAN devices can greatly affect the capacity of the network. The density of the gateways will dictate the number of devices that will connect to the grid. Choosing a densely distributed grid is ideal in the case of wide coverage and long-range operation. Moreover, a reliable LoRaWAN grid will allow you to monitor objects in the environment.
What Are the Most Common Applications Of LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN® grid is compatible with a wide range of IoT applications. The most common applications of LoRaWAN include asset tracking, smart metering, and supply chain management. IoT devices can be used to collect data from various sources and send it to a central location for analysis. Smart cities are also starting to implement LoRaWAN in order to improve traffic flow and manage resources more efficiently. Thanks to its low power consumption, LoRaWAN is well-suited for these types of applications.
Smart cities require real-time visibility into all aspects of urban life. To achieve this, smart cities typically utilize wide-area wireless networks to enable connectivity between a vast grid of disparate data-generating IoT appliances, sensors, and smart meters.
LoRaWAN® wireless technology is the best IoT solution for the application in the scope of smart cities. Using IoT technologies with a variety of smart devices to visualize and analyze comprehensive real-time data, cities can respond dynamically by optimizing asset utilization and allocation of city resources. Cities can integrate IoT into their infrastructure to automate tasks, monitor and manage equipment, and perform predictive maintenance to reduce operational costs.
Cities all over the world could optimize the usage of utilities and staff by integrating city services such as:
- Street Lighting
- Smart Parking
- Waste management
- Water level and flood management
- Smart Public Transit
- Air Quality Control
- Street Cleaning
Thanks to the LoRaWAN®, supply chain and logistics companies successfully tracking high-value assets, including those in transit. Vehicles, goods, and other support are conveniently tracked over broad geographic regions and in severe circumstances because of the technology’s remarkable range, low energy consumption, and GPS-free localization. Fleet monitoring IoT solutions that use LoRaWAN® connection can save money by allowing fleets to stay on the road for longer, improve fuel economy, increase safety, offer visibility into maintenance concerns, and improve overall operational efficiency.
Among the common applications of IoT, we should definitely outline smart building management. IoT sensors and solutions allow collecting data from various detectors in a building to optimize energy usage, manage security, and improve tenant comfort.
With minimum infrastructure and maintenance expenditure, homeowners, property, and facility managers may enhance efficiency and minimize expenses by deploying LoRa-based intelligent IoT building solutions:
- Temperature and Humidity Monitoring
- Room Occupancy Monitoring
- Motion Detection
- Fire, flood, CO/CO2 level Monitoring
Consistent performance makes LoRaWAN® networks ideal for essential intelligent healthcare applications. IoT solutions based on LoRaWAN® devices and gateways can continuously monitor high-risk patients or systems, guaranteeing that health and medical safety are never compromised.
The TEKTELIC eDOCTOR is a comprehensive IoT solution designed to continuously and reliably monitor the most important vital signs of hospital patients, seniors care residents, high-performing athletes, or anyone else who requires Real-Time, Always-On insights into their respiratory health.
IoT LoRaWAN® Smart Health solutions could help:
- Hospital Patients
- Seniors Care Residents
- High Performing Athletes
The need for all-encompassing safety and security solutions is increasing. IoT-based public safety solutions give first responders cutting-edge technology that may reduce danger and improve individual safety. Personal wearable IoT gadgets, such as ID badges, are fitted with LoRaWAN® technology, including a panic button that sends an instant SOS with the user’s location information.
TEKTELIC’s FINCH is a compact, mobile, wireless BLE panic button that transmits an emergency signal from any location. FINCH is ideal for lone workers, seniors, and children to signal for help in an emergency situation. When triggered, this device instantly sends an SOS message containing location details to designated support staff or security personnel to ensure a rapid response in the event of a panic situation.
This device combines the long-range communication capabilities of LoRaWAN® with the universal availability and reliability of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to provide real-time location information. FINCH is seamlessly integrated with TEKTELIC’s end-to-end IoT solution.
The corporate workforce has grown more mobile and has quickly adopted an “anytime, anyplace” work ethic. As a result of the unpredictable flow of employees and guests, office space may be unused for lengthy periods or be overbooked. For firms, properly using and arranging available space has become a logistical headache. That is why it is critically important to have an IoT device for occupancy monitoring and space management.
It is possible to record and publish environmental indicators for data analysis in real-time by deploying an ecosystem of devices and gateways equipped with LoRaWAN® networks over an area. They are identifying concerns before they become disasters. LoRaWAN®-based IoT solutions for the environment help safeguard populations from environmental threats, enabling air quality monitoring to radiation leak detection.
The concept of using IoT for smart Agriculture practices is taking flight as farmers now can easily visualize, analyze and make more informed decisions regarding their crops, livestock, equipment, infrastructure, environment, and all other components they are required to continuously monitor and manage for increased yields and improved efficiencies. TEKTELIC, in turn, can offer you CLOVER. It has a compact size and determines many parameters that give an understanding of the environmental aspects. It is the ideal IoT solution to streamline and simplify the collection of key metrics for crops, residential and commercial lawns, gardens, and golf courses. This IoT sensor can be deployed to collect data about sunlight exposure, which can be used to make better decisions about crop placement and help determine if solar integration is a viable option for the farm.
The LoRaWAN® Network Architecture
Rather than having each end device in an almost constantly on state, the end devices in the LoRaWAN® network interact directly with gateways and are only ON when they need to communicate with the gateway since the content is not a concern. A LoRa radio has a few characteristics that enable it to attain adequate long-range power and low cost. Some of these characteristics include the following: modulation technique, frequency, adaptive data rate, and adaptive power level.
LoRa radios employ spectrum modulation technology to produce a significantly increased communication range while preserving characteristics of low consumption of power comparable to FSK modulation physical layer radios. While used widely in military and space communications for quite some time, LoRa is the first low-cost commercial implementation of the method.
While LoRa technology is frequency agnostic, LoRa radios communicate via unlicensed sub-GHz radio frequency bands that are widely accessible throughout the world. These frequencies fluctuate from area to region and, in many cases, from country to country.
The most common LoRa frequencies are:
- 923 MHz in the United States
- 868 MHz in Europe
- 433 MHz in the Asia Pacific
Each frequency range has its own benefits and drawbacks. 868 MHz offers good coverage but can be more expensive, while 923 MHz offers less coverage but is more affordable. 433 MHz is the most versatile frequency range, as it is available in a number of regions. Each region has its own designated frequency bands for IoT applications. Be sure to check the availability of these frequencies in your area before selecting a LoRa radio module.
Adaptive Data Rate
LoRa employs a mix of variable bandwidth and spreading factors (SF7-SF12) to change the data rate, which is a trade-off with the transmission range. A higher spreading factor provides a more extended coverage at the price of a lower data rate and vice versa. The bandwidth and spreading factor combination are set based on the grid conditions and the amount of data sent.
Adaptive Power Level
LoRa radios have an adaptable power level. Elements such as data rate and network quality influences LoRa radios, among others. When a quick transmission is necessary, the transmitted power increases, and vice versa. As a result, battery life is extended and preserves network capacity. Various factors, including the device’s class, influence power consumption.
LoRa Alliance® Support to LoRaWAN®
Our global, national, and regional networks will have to support billions or even trillions of smart IoT appliances all over the world in the future. LoRaWAN® technology would play a very important role in delivering an innovative, low-cost, and highly efficient grid for future applications. The role of this technology will be even bigger than Wi-Fi, especially in the commercial sphere.
In such a promising future for LoRaWAN, it started to have a lot of support from different organizations. For example, there is a Lora Alliance® association that unites more than 400 companies globally to contribute, improve and implement an intelligent LoRaWAN® network for future needs. The LoRa Alliance® is an open, non-profit association of members that believes the Internet of Things era is now. The LoRa Alliance® was initiated by industry leaders with a mission to standardize Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) being deployed around the world to enable the Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), smart city, and industrial applications. If you want to learn more about this organization and its members, or find additional information including LoRaWAN® news and recent LoRa Alliance® Press Releases and white papers, visit https://lora-alliance.org
To read the article “Benefits of joining the LoRa Alliance®: a LoRaWAN® vendor view”, please follow the link: https://tektelic.com/expertise/lora-alliance-membership/
From the TEKTELIC side, we would like to offer you guidance and assistance in your journey to the world of IoT. Contact us via email at email@example.com, and we will find a perfect LoRaWAN solution suitable for your case.