How LoRaWAN® Forms the Building Blocks of a Smart City


The Things Network User

Posted on 11-01-2021

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that’s certainly the case for smart cities. Breaking down smart city initiatives into smaller solutions will help you build solid foundations.

It is estimated that the smart city market will grow from USD 410 billion in 2020 to double that: $820 billion in 2025. With increasing LoRaWAN coverage, government-led initiatives such as large-scale renewable energy projects, and smart-technology adoption gaining momentum, it comes as no surprise that cities want in on the IoT action.

Smart cities aim to address urban residents’ quality of life and improve city services. When broken down, the smart city use case encompasses governments, residents, citizens, tourists, and businesses to create a highly connected ecosystem.

This year has highlighted the need for smart city adoption, as social distancing and contact tracing apps take off during the global pandemic. Remote health monitoring, occupancy control for businesses, fever screening, air quality control, and smart parking are unique use cases that see an increasing demand this year within city planning and development.

The Smart City Opportunity

Western Parkland City council joined an ecosystem of 11 other Australian councils to accelerate their smart city initiatives. In partnership with Peclet Technology, The Things Industries’ partner Meshed, and Ubidots, the committees broke down their smart city projects into smaller, more manageable use cases. Creating a smart beach was one of them.

Coogee Beach
Coogee Beach

A Beach Without Big White Whales

We're all familiar with white whale IoT projects; the promise of thousands of devices (and therefore revenue) that seldom come to fruition, either due to time, technology, or budget constraints.
To ensure a lean start, integrate existing and proven technologies into testbed scenarios, securing long-term sponsorship from management, and short-term value for the user.

This is exactly what Peclet, a Sydney-based IoT platform company, understood from the offset. They drew data from the Meshed IoT Sensors with LoRaWAN network servers through The Things Industries and then shared it with OpenDataSoft.

Peclet data

Integrating all of these tools in Ubidots, Peclet was able to create dashboards to view the sensor data and maintain control over real-time devices. The dashboards are customizable and can be prefilled using graphs, charts, indicators, metrics, tables, maps, and management, or through your personal development using HTML and Javascript.

Besides open data sharing with the public, the councils have seen a ripple effect of benefits from this project. The Coogee Beach use case is profiled as a testbed to validate solutions before rolling them out to other beaches. The councils also provide community benefits through improved amenity access, ensuring improved safety on both water safety and land.

The output? An IoT-powered smart display with live data from Coogee beach
The output? An IoT-powered smart display with live data from Coogee beach

Beyond Smart Beaches

Eurobodalla Shire Council in New South Wales is another excellent example of a regional council that partnered with Peclet and OpenDataSoft for data sharing. They have progressed quicker than most larger cities and with minimal spending.

Small projects that make up their smart city initiative include intelligent bins and smart parking solutions in Batemans Bay, people counting in the public library, GPS tracking of council vehicles, flood monitoring, and even flying fox counting! With flood monitoring, the council can send early warnings to local businesses that might be affected.

connectGH, an open data portal for the Southern Grampians Shire Council
connectGH, an open data portal for the Southern Grampians Shire Council

Recognizing how IoT architectures that support designing city-wide deployments with both simplicity and power in mind, Peclet’s CTO, Hassan Gabru, says:
All our deployments are on scalable AWS infrastructure, so even if we start small, there is no limit on the number of users and size of operations we can support.

Simple, Yet Powerful Smart City Solutions

Having assessed the above solutions, it is clear that even for councils in larger cities with their size and potentially more significant ICT budget, there is no reason why they need to over-complicate their smart city architecture. Turnkey solutions such as Ubidots, The Things Network, and OpenDataSoft can make their life more comfortable and accelerate delivery.

It might be overwhelming when you think of how you could introduce smart approaches into your city. Like the above, it begins with assessing citizens’ significant challenges and breaking these down into manageable chunks. Open tech and data platforms will be vital in developing your projects into the next phase, a “true” smart city.

  1. Connected Streetlights: To drive lower costs and sustainability, smart streetlights are a highly effective route to take when tackling smart city use cases. LED lights and ambiance and motion sensors create adjustable and autonomous street lighting that is safe and durable.

  2. Traffic Monitoring & Management: With an increasing number of cars on the road and growing urban populations, traffic is becoming even more congested. Like the beach use cases, these projects can be rolled out in small batches across the city to assess their effectiveness. The traffic lights can determine the correct flows to allow more heavily congested areas to clear while prioritizing buses and bikes for safe travel.

3. Waste Management: Through stringent waste tracking measures, bin lorries need only collect waste when there is actual waste in the bins! This also reduces unnecessary truck traffic jams because trucks are only on the roads when they are needed. High-waste areas can also be monitored to introduce larger-capacity bins, reducing the number of visits the waste collection trucks need to make.

Smart city initiatives are not something that gets completed in one single project. Instead, it is a series of projects, each providing a better experience for the citizen and streamlining city management operations. Each project might not make a city smart in one go, but their compounded gains make the city safer, more amicable, and efficient.

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