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anelatek2020 September 4, 2023 No Comments

Simplifying the smart city

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Donna Moore of the LoRa Alliance highlights how the LoRaWAN networking protocol and ecosystem can address a municipality’s desired outcomes, costs, and goals.

The concept of smart cities has existed for many years now, and yet, most municipalities are just starting their smart journeys. In many ways, the timing is perfect as there is now an ecosystem of technologies, products and services available to maximise the value of smart city deployments and bring tremendous benefits to business, citizens and the environment.

The challenges smart cities face

Perhaps the biggest challenge when looking to design a smart city is knowing where to start. Solutions may be born from one single issue facing one single department, but to effectively address all the possibilities to support a smart city, understanding the problems of multiple departments is key.

A city must have a clear strategy and solid business cases with clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Starting with a project that will benefit multiple stakeholders encourages cities to select technologies that are be readily available, flexible and scalable to meet a variety of requirements.

Smart cities aren’t “one-and-done” types of projects. Success relies on continuously evolving and expanding your use cases based on emerging needs

Next, cities need to assess their current infrastructure and its future viability. Many cities are already networked for cellular and wifi. Still, each of those has different challenges in terms of reach, battery life and cost that could render a smart city project ineffective or too expensive to achieve return on investment (ROI).

Finally, smart cities aren’t “one-and-done” types of projects. Success relies on continuously evolving and expanding your use cases based on emerging needs. As use cases are added the city continues to benefit and ROI grows.

Should cities bother?

On the surface, it may seem like it is still too difficult to successfully deploy and achieve a strong ROI for a smart city. The good news is that viable, tested and certified solutions are available today that address the challenges cities face. Cities around the world like the City of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, City of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, Berau, Germany, the Town of Cary, North Carolina, and Montevideo, Uruguay are strong examples of successfully deployed smart city solutions.

These cities manage a huge range of use cases, such as indoor and outdoor air quality, streetlighting, asset management and theft prevention, people counting, pest control, water and waste management, flood/structural monitoring, buildings and parking, and traffic management.

Where to start

When starting a project, a city needs to look at its current pain points, and what may change based on city growth and planning initiatives. These identifiers will allow cities to determine their desired outcomes – or what they plan to achieve by adding smart technologies. The next consideration is finding the right partners. These relationships are key to the long-term development of ongoing projects because they
have established a base of trust and understanding of the systems being used, so each use case deployment gets easier.

The fact is that cities are part of the massive internet of things (IoT) and require thousands of sensors to obtain the data they need to become smart. However, the data that each of those sensors needs to transmit is quite small – is a light on or off? Is there a leak in the city’s water lines? Have a bridge’s vibrations sensors triggered an alert? The best choice for transmitting small amounts of data is low power wide area networks, and LoraWan is the strongest choice for many reasons:

• It is an open standard giving municipalities multiple choices in terms of vendors and suppliers, meaning they aren’t locked into a proprietary solution from a single source. This is complemented by the largest ecosystem with the most devices on the market, offering the widest product selection from the most vendors
• LoraWAN is flexible, so a city can determine whether public, private, hybrid, community or even satellite networks will deliver the right level of services at the best price
• It is also proven as a multiRan solution, so can be combined with other networking technologies to meet specific use case requirements or leverage existing infrastructure
• It is scalable, making it very easy to add new applications to an existing network without needing to (re)invest in new hardware to accommodate future growth.
• It has a 10- to 15-year battery life, which minimises maintenance requirements and keeps solution costs low.
• It transmits over long distances as well as through concrete and metal, allowing it to provide coverage where other technologies cannot
• The LoRa Alliance certification programme backs LoraWAN-certified devices, so cities can be confident that their solutions are future-proof and that the devices they deploy will perform as intended in urban environments
• Finally, LoraWAN is a proven LPWAN technology with the most deployments around the world and the most deployments at scale.

A network does not stand alone

Part of any city’s decision-making process must be the availability of products and services to use on a network. At the same time, cities need to deploy devices that they know will work as intended for the long term. This means they need the certainty provided by certified products and must include requirements in their tenders and request for proposals (RFPs) for solutions that use certified devices.

Two big challenges for cities are tight budgets and lack of cross-department communication. Each department has its own goals and requires unique use case solutions, which tends to make collaborative goals difficult. However, solutions based on open standards will allow all departments within a city to benefit from the infrastructure investment while having the flexibility to meet every department’s specific requirement.

A smart city deployment undertaken without network security at the forefront of all stakeholders’ minds risks causing more problems than it solves

LoraWAN is the ideal solution for this scenario: once a LoraWAN network is deployed it is easy and cost-effective to scale, limitless applications can be added to a network once it is up and running. These factors allow cities to scale efficiently, thereby maximising efficiencies and ROI.

Smart cities must be secured

A smart city deployment undertaken without network security at the forefront of all stakeholders’ minds risks causing more problems than it solves. Networks – and the sensors and devices that connect to them – must demonstrate best-in-breed security and the ability to continuously upgrade the systems’ security as technology evolves.

The original developers of LoraWAN understood this from the very beginning and made sure that security was designed into the LoraWAN standard from the start. LoraWAN security uses 2 x 128-bit AES encryption keys to define both network and application-level security. LoraWAN has another feature that many LPWANs lack: the ability to deliver firmware updates over the air (FUOTA). This is yet another aspect of the technology that gives cities confidence in the viability of the solution for the long term in terms of both security and functionality.

Final takeaways

Although there are challenges, the right solutions exist today to deploy smart city solutions that address a municipality’s desired outcomes, estimated costs, and ROI goals. There are numerous examples of cities who have deployed LoraWAN and are achieving strong ROI, alongside improved operational efficiencies and safety and health for their citizens.

To succeed, all stakeholders need to be involved and ensure they’re aligned as they navigate the decision-making and deployment processes. They must ask the right questions and build all stakeholders’ confidence in the solution, its reliability and benefits, and the value of the data it generates. Backed by the largest IoT ecosystem, LoraWAN solution providers are ideally suited to collaborate with cities to ensure the deployment of a fit-for-purpose solution to achieve their goals.

Donna Moore is CEO and chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance. In this role, she oversees the organisation, its strategy and direction to drive the global adoption of the LoraWan standard. Moore has nearly two decades of experience launching new companies and growing businesses across a variety of industries and competitive environments. She is an IoT thought leader with an extensive background of successfully advancing IoT globally. This year, Donna received IoT Breakthrough Award’s “IoT Company CEO of
the Year,” and she was named a 2021 Connected World “Women in Technology” winner. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University.

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LoraWan network allows smart cities to scale efficiently

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Source: Smart Cities World

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