The Internet of Things
Technology (IoT) is an emerging field that defines the networks made up of smart things able to send data through cable or wireless technologies. Internet of Things enables remote access to the alarm systems or the surveillance cameras connected to the internet for monitoring purposes. Similarly, the heating systems (home heating power stations) or AC systems may be monitored and controlled remotely via IoT.
LoRaWAN is a radio broadcast protocol through which the networks of smart things are formed. The constituted network uses a star-of-stars topology, with gateways serving as transparent bridges sending messages between the sensors and the central server. The gateways connect to the network by traditional IP connections and the sensor devices use single-hop wireless communication to one or more gateways. The structure is similar to a mobile telephone network, but instead of having one single interconnected network, LoRa allows the implementation of several independent networks over the same infrastructure.
A generic architecture of a LoRaWAN Network is made up of:
- Nodes: They are the elements of the LoRa network that monitor and control the given infrastructure (sensors for parking lots, smart meters, street lighting system remote-control devices and so on). These are usually located remotely.
- Base Station (Gateway) LoRa: It is the access point through which it receives data from the nodes via the LoRaWAN protocol and then transfers them via internet to the network server. The connection to the LoRa network server may be Ethernet, cellular or any other wired or wireless telecommunication connections that offer internet connection. The base stations are connected to the network server through standard IP connections. This way the data use a standard protocol that may be connected to any communication network, regardless of whether it is a public or a private network. Given the similarity of a LoRa network to a mobile telephony network, the LoRa base stations may be often co-located with a cellular base station. Thus they may use the backup capacity of the cellular base station for data transmission to the network server.
- Network server: The LoRa network server manages the network. The network server operates to eliminate duplicate packages, recognition programs and it controls the data rate. Given the way that it can be implemented and connected, the complexity of the implementation of a LoRa network is very low.
- Application Server: The application server offers access to the applications that use the data from the nodes and it displays them in such a way as to offer the most relevant information for the client. Moreover, LoRa allows bi-directional communication between the nodes and the network, therefore remote orders can be sent towards the nodes; these may be node management orders (remote update of the software) but also control orders for certain elements belonging to a system (such as closing/opening a door remotely).
LoRa Alliance (https://www.lora-alliance.org/) is a non-profit organization that has the objective of standardizing the Low Power WAN (LPWAN) networks in order to accelerate the implementation of the IoT (Internet of Things), smart cities, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and industrial applications. LoRa Alliance has grown to almost 400 members in the industry, among which there are famous brands such as IBM, Cisco, Orange, Microchip, Swisscom and many others. ETA2U became a member of the LoRa Alliance in March 2016.
On June 16, 2015, LoRa Alliance launched this communication protocol for IoT systems over wireless (WAN) networks in unlicensed frequency bands. This protocol was created by SemTech and it specifies the modulation and the error correction diagram, which enable data communication over distances ranging from 2km to 20km, with a very low power consumption.
The LoRaWAN technology application scenarios spread out on several vertical sectors. Some of these sectors are represented below:
ETA2U, as a supplier of complex systems and ICT services, has the long-term development objective of increasing its portfolio of in-house solutions, based on innovative technologies such as IoT, Industry 4.0 and Big Data.
Internet of Things is one of the innovative branches in which the company invests. To this end, ETA2U develops systems and services based on the LoRaWAN technology for its clients.