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Connected parks in the IoT world

   Disclaimer: This article is written by us for RAKwireless! The text is published on their news page and you can read it there if you prefer. We are just forwarding the info with the sole purpose to make it more accessible ūüôā

   Enjoy!

Connected parks in the IoT world

How LoRaWAN¬ģ can help you be prepared whether in town or hiking

   Lives have become very dynamic. We are a part of society that is orderly and organized in the way it functions. This applies to all aspects of life, we are trying to classify things so they are easier to manage. At a societal level, we rely on organization and orderliness to keep us going. We like predictability, order, routine, as this lets us prepare and gives us confidence and peace of mind.

   To have the best control of our surroundings, it makes sense to classify them, to understand what we specifically need to influence each one. Broadly speaking, we can first define the environments present in a modern town:

  • Urban environment –¬†think of this as any place where you are part of the concrete jungle, the city. You are in an environment that is mostly man-made, and the everyday objects you use are created by our society: dwellings, tools, gadgets, etc. This is our normal setting. The urban environment is not unnatural for us because this is where we comfortably live in and most of our lives revolve around this space.
  • Natural environment –¬†this is what I like to call ‚Äúthe free space‚ÄĚ. Free pertains more to space itself than its inhabitants. Humans are all about control, however, when we are in nature we allow ourselves to experience the world as it is. Whether we admit it or not, this is how we were built and we need this organic primal space to have a healthy mind and body. Although we seek utmost control, we do like bite-sized chunks of uncertainty to create excitement, but still within limits set by us.

   That being said, the two categories are not entirely separate. The lines continue to blur, in a good way. We introduce nature in our urban environment, in our homes, offices, among others, and introduce technology into the natural environment we have managed to preserve, like parks, preservations, and etc. We will be discussing how to do the latter in this article.

connected parks

   So how can we introduce technology and in turn, a little more control, to the natural environment, without entirely converting it into something different? Simple, do not change its fundamental way of operation. The best thing to do is to observe and manage how we exist in these spaces and use two key concepts, monitoring, and automation, to our advantage.

   Finding the balance between control and randomness to make things interesting is what one aims for when designing the smart park of the future. So, how can we use IoT in a natural environment, such as a park or a hiking trail? How can we stay connected yet still enjoy the positive effects nature has on our wellbeing?

¬† ¬†The keys to the smart future of the natural environment lie with monitoring and automation and how they lead us to make better decisions and become more prepared. Let’s discuss each of them, in turn:

   Monitoring is the base on which automation is built. It is highly essential and it is where IoT implementations and projects start. This concept built the foundations of what we know now as smart homes and offices. Monitoring entails tracking the parameters one would like to keep an eye on. Measurable units such as temperature, air humidity, and the like help smart systems take note of the current environment and what the ideal environment would be for the user or space. The technology for measuring might not differ much, however, the connectivity best suited to relay the data is very different and will depend on the purpose. This means that ideally, how a smart home relays data will be different from a smart park will do it.

   A park is large compared to a house or a flat. It is after all intended to be used by a large number of people at the same time. From small playgrounds to big forested national parks, these areas may be too big that it becomes a concern for how to extract real-time data. Cabling is out of the question because it necessitates digging and traditional tech, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, among others, may not have the range or power to do the job. This is true for parks around town, but especially true for national parks that can span over entire woods or mountains. As the area is so big, it automatically becomes problematic to extract the data from your sensors in real-time.

Read¬†LoRaWAN¬ģ vs. the world of IoT!¬† ¬†

¬† ¬†Enter LoRaWAN, a disruptive new technology that has made huge waves in the world of IoT. With its great range and incredible power efficiency, it has been growing nonstop for the past five years, establishing itself as the dominant solution in its field of application. True, there are competitors like NB-IoT and LTE CAT M, but LoRaWAN’s explosive adoption in the past year, coupled with its solid performance has resulted in it increasing its market share.

   There are several key benefits of the technology that are worth a look at

   LoRaWAN has an incredible range. A small city can be covered with as little as three to five gateways. This is a major advantage as it allows for quick and cost-efficient deployment of the underlying network that carries the end-device traffic.

¬† ¬†Another important feature to mention is the low power consumption. As it is in the nature of IoT that devices are asleep mostly and only wake up to acquire and transmit data, this is something LoRaWAN excels at. LoRaWAN works with a battery life of 2+ years, which older technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth did not even consider possible. The device’s efficiency vis a vis a large-sized battery is what gives it long-term power.

   Next comes scalability. This is a must as an IoT network consists of a vast number of devices, a number that dwarfs what a traditional cellular network looks like. Because of this, the technology needs to quickly adapt to the rising number of end nodes. Here, again LoRaWAN outshines the competition with support for tens of thousands of nodes per gateway.

   Last but not least are two key benefits that go together: ease of deployment and cost-efficiency. This is a must for a network to grow quickly and not be bottlenecked by either maintenance and deployment issues. As with every new tech, time is required for equipment costs to drop as a result of mass adoption. LoRaWAN device prices are now low enough and even feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules to maximize coverage.

   LoRaWAN is the leading player in the IoT game of monitoring and automation, especially with large areas of coverage. Using LoRaWAN, we can deploy our network quickly, easily, and efficiently. The range will be great and the device battery life will last years.

¬† ¬†Let’s discuss the following scenario to see the capabilities of a LoRaWAN network

   We are in a city with five parks that are more or less spread evenly over the area. Furthermore, they are of the same quality, plenty of trees, a large area, and kid-friendly. Such a scenario is the perfect opportunity to showcase the advantages of IoT to positively influence the environment. These conditions need to be monitored, to be maintained in a relatively constant state, if not improved.

   There could be small, battery-powered nodes that monitor the soil moisture level and the temperature of the air. These metrics are gathered and the irrigation system automatically reacts and waters the soil if and when necessary. Furthermore, we have water-level monitoring devices that are installed near bodies of water to evaluate conditions and raise alarms in cases of flood or drought. This use case falls in the first category: maintenance of the environment itself. This is how we make sure we influence it sufficiently to make it best fit our needs, keeping it as natural as possible, but still comfortable to exist in.

   A different example, falling in another category

¬† ¬†All parks in town are automated via a fleet of LoRaWAN nodes that transmit metrics wirelessly over regular intervals, and relay actions to control systems. Still, there are conditions that cannot be influenced so directly. Let’s say that we want to pick a park to go to. What will our criteria be?

   First of all, we would want to know what the weather is like: is it sunny or is it raining? Should we wear warmer clothing or an umbrella? What about air quality? We do not want to go to a park that has polluted air full of particulates, which is something that is becoming more of a problem and regularly changes depending on time and day. What about the noise? Are there many people?

connected parks, better choise

   The aforementioned information can easily be obtained with sensors specifically designed for the task. Measuring these parameters can be accomplished with a wireless LoRaWAN node to gather data and forward it to the cloud. We simply open our park-monitoring app and the conditions are served to us in a user-friendly manner, allowing us to choose the destination that best fits our requirements. Furthermore, these conditions are updated in real-time, so if they change before arriving, we can easily relocate to a more suitable park. This is a classic example of monitoring and automation working hand in hand.

¬† ¬†These are urban scenarios and one might see them as more of a luxury than a necessity. However, parks are not only in towns. We could be deep in the mountains hiking where conditions can worsen rapidly and unpredictably. The speed of our reaction might save us from harm. An approaching storm for example is something we’d rather avoid, thus we better know about it in advance. Knowing the temperature, wind speed, rainfall, and other important factors will give us the chance to choose our hiking path and whether to continue on or not.

   Connected parks РConnected people

   Such solutions already exist and are being worked on and deployed. Some are only in the testing stage, on a small scale, some are already large-scale deployments.

   For example, Helium has become the largest public IoT network that is people-powered. They have a great and innovative model that has allowed them to deploy over 12,000 hotspots providing connectivity to IoT devices over a large portion of the US and Europe. They empower individuals to build up the underlying network infrastructure via a cryptocurrency system that takes care of payment for data transfer. This allows them to scale quickly and naturally maintain the network as coverage expands only where needed. Helium is a new, more efficient way to build a network in response to the needs of a new and innovative technological field that is IoT.

connected parks, helium

   This is only one part of the equation. Users need to be empowered to create their end devices, gather sensor data, control devices, and develop applications to solve particular problems they have come across.

   RAKwireless came up with their new solution to help users out, called WisBlock. This is a modular system that allows for easy and cost-efficient development of IoT nodes that can encompass a huge variety of removable sensors and actuators. The IoT use cases are limitless and one needs a device that can be modified and upgraded on the fly so it can cover as wide of a range as possible. This is what WisBlock does best, what it was designed for.

connected parks, wisblock

   In the end, the scenarios we discussed are not that far from becoming a reality. These and more examples of possible applications will be here by the middle of the decade and companies like RAKwireless and Helium will be the leaders that will make the future of smart parks and a smart environment a reality.

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LoRaWAN¬ģ vs. the world of IoT!

¬† ¬†Disclaimer: This article is written by us for RAKwireless! The text is published on their news page and you can read it there if you prefer. We are just forwarding the info with the sole purpose to make it more accessible ūüôā

   Enjoy!

  

LoRaWAN¬ģ vs. the world of IoT!

   You know (or you will know after reading this) that there are not 1 or 2 technologies and protocols in the Internet of Things. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and today we will discuss that for the main players in the game.

SWOT analysis template

 

 

 

¬† ¬†To not waste too much time rambling about every protocol’s functions we will use the nifty and smart S.W.O.T. analysis system. S.W.O.T. like in Strengths,¬†Weaknesses,¬†Opportunities, and¬†Threads, right? Right.

   Refer to the image above to get an idea of how SWOT looks like. It is that simple.

   So, let us start going through some of the potential contenders in the IoT arena. Naturally, they all have their distinct advantages and disadvantages, thus there is no panacea for the ailments of IoT deployments. The good news is some are better than others and LoRaWAN in particular is the champ in a number of areas, so read on to get a better understanding.

 

 

ZigbeeLoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT Zigbee logo

   Now, let us start with Zigbee. If you’re using any smart home technology, there’s a good chance it runs on Zigbee. A wireless communication protocol designed to underpin everything from thermostats to lightbulbs. Zigbee was introduced by the Zigbee Alliance, a group that includes Amazon, Samsung, Huawei, Qualcomm, and Toshiba, not to mention many of the other biggest companies in the home appliances sector and energy and consumer technology industries. More importantly, it’s fast becoming the standard wireless protocol that smart home devices use to communicate. Plus it has been around for some time, so some of the initial issues that plague every technology have already been cleared and it is now stable and robust.

   The little table here will show us what is good and what is not so good about Zigbee:

SWOT analysis of Zigbee LoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT

   LoRaWAN is the better option if you need true bidirectionality because of the symmetric link. Better command-and-control functionality. You can set up and manage your own network. The open standard has the potential to be flexible because it’s not going to be driven by a specific company.

Wi-FiLoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT Wi-Fi logo

   Next, we will discuss Wi-Fi. Pretty much everyone knows what Wi-Fi is. Wi-Fi is a family of radio technologies commonly used for wireless local area networking (WLAN) of devices. It is based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards. We will not delve deep into its many variations, simply examine what its core functionalities are.

   Here are the strengths and weaknesses of Wi-Fi in light of its newest standard:

SWOT analysis of Wi-Fi LoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT

¬† ¬†Wi-Fi doesn’t really classify in the race between IoT technologies. ¬†LoRaWAN and the others are far more superior with their low power consumption and wider area network.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)LoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT BLE logo

   It is a version of Bluetooth designed for lower-powered devices that use less data. To conserve power, BLE remains in sleep mode except when a connection is initiated. This makes it ideal for wearable fitness trackers and health monitors.

   Bluetooth itself is wildly known as of its uses so let us quickly do a SWOT analysis on BLE:

SWOT analysis of BLE LoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT

¬† ¬†LoRaWAN, often referred to as a low-power wide-area-network (LPWAN), provides secure, bidirectional data transfer and communications with IoT networks over long distances for years without a battery change. It can send and receive signals up to 10 miles, and that distance can extend to hundreds of miles with repeaters if needed. LoRaWAN works well as a complement for BLE in battery-powered networks of IoT devices because it can operate for an extended time on a battery and requires very infrequent maintenance ‚ÄĒ just like BLE. They are a great team actually.

Narrowband Internet of ThingsLoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT NB-IoT logo

   NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services. The specification was frozen in 3GPP Release 13 (LTE Advanced Pro), in June 2016. Other 3GPP IoT technologies include eMTC (enhanced Machine-Type Communication) and EC-GSM-IoT.

   NB-IoT focuses specifically on indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and high connection density. NB-IoT uses a subset of the LTE standard but limits the bandwidth to a single narrow-band of 200kHz. It uses OFDM modulation for downlink communication and SC-FDMA for uplink communications.

And the conclusions about NB-IoT:

SWOT analysis of NB-IoT LoRaWAN vs. the world of IoT

   Many technology articles compare LoRaWAN and NB-IoT technologies as if they were battling it out for dominance in the IoT market. In reality, these technologies are two branches within an emerging technology ecosystem. Similar to WiFi and Bluetooth, they will most likely diverge into different niches, rather than directly compete with each other. LoRaWAN and NB-IoT both operate within LPWAN technology. They are two major standards for low-power IoT devices.

   Both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT standards were developed to improve security, power efficiency, and interoperability for IoT devices. Each features bidirectional communication (meaning the network can send data to the IoT device, and the IoT device can send data back), and both are designed to scale well, from a few devices to millions of devices. But overall the target group of users seems to be different, hence their differences may be strengths or weaknesses, depending on the point of view.

¬† ¬†After all, it turns out that there is not much battle here. Every product is suitable for something different and the choice depends entirely on the users’ needs. To top it off here is a quick diagram to show it simpler, where the better choice is marked:

  COST DEPLOYMENT
TIME
RANGE BATTERY SECURITY
LoRaWAN

‚úĒ

‚úė ‚úĒ ‚úĒ ‚úĒ
Zigbee ‚úė ‚úė ‚úė ‚úė ‚úė
Wi-Fi ‚úĒ ‚úė ‚úė ‚úė ‚úė
BLE ‚úĒ ‚úė ‚úė ‚úĒ ‚úĒ
NB-IoT ‚úė ‚úĒ ‚úĒ ‚úė ‚úĒ

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Smart office = better working conditions = more productive employees!

Smart office = better working conditions = more productive employees!

   These days a world without technology sounds either medieval or dystopian. Everything is getting smart, our phones, our homes, even our cars. Why not our workplaces too? We’re not talking about machines taking over our actual jobs like in the big industrial manufacturing, just some improvements to the environment so we can be more efficient and feel more at home Рa smart office solution!

¬† ¬†Creating better living conditions in homes is a must, but making better working conditions is kind of neglected even though there are breakthroughs. Smart technologies and LoRa¬ģ, in particular, give ground for all sorts of improvements in the daily life of the average person, be it at home or the office. Let’s talk about the possibilities for the workplace here, shall we?

   Firstly, let us make something clear here: the office itself is an asset as everything else that the company has. Not to exploit it to its full potential is a waste of opportunity. Let’s say you have a fridge, but you use it as a storage space for shoes. You could do that and it will do the job, but you are wasting it away. The same is true for the office. It could be just a space where the workers do their jobs, but it could be a tool for them, and you as well!

¬† ¬†There are a lot of aspects of the ‚Äúsmart office‚ÄĚ idea and here we will try to cover as much of them as we can.

   Today’s technology lets you do upgrades in every aspect of the living conditions in a given space. Or you could start from scratch and use that to build a whole smart building if you like. With the right tools, almost every aspect of the office space and workflow can be made more efficient.

Lighting, temperature, humidity, and dustiness

   Those are the most basic environmental variables in every closed space, where someone will spend most of the day, that affect one’s wellbeing. They are as important as everything else in the office surrounding us like chairs, desks, and computers, for the productivity of the employees. Bad lighting will cause eye problems as easy as an uncomfortable chair will cause back problems. Those are matters that may not seem important at the moment but in the long run, they will cost businesses more in the form of unhealthy employees, leading to lower productivity, time on leave, etc.

   There are a lot of options in the market. All sorts of sensors and nodes that help monitor and regulate those parameters are available. With a simple network of a gateway and a few sensors, you could have the data needed to develop the perfect living environment. With a bit more money and more sophisticated add-ons to that network, you could make it regulate itself and automate the whole process. Switching lights on and off, turning on the air conditioning when needed, and so on is easy with the IoT.

Better use of space

   This is an interesting one. People underestimate the importance of arranging the items in an office in such a way that they are both accessible and comfortable to use. One example is the nightmare that cable management is! It comes easy when there are no cables, right? LoRa allows wireless communication between devices that can give some much-needed rest to the IT cable guy, who won’t have to do all the wiring needed just a few years ago.

Fire safety and security

   Good interaction between HVAC systems, lighting, and shading as well as a uniform control strategy is possible with some automation. This is the whole idea of the smart office Рsynergy! But it is not enough and nearly not the end of the possible improvements. Employees, and everyone for that matter, need to feel safe too. This is where high-tech fire safety and security systems come to mind. Immediate notification in case of emergency, automated evacuation systems, and protocol can save lives. They ensure appropriate access and simplify security processes. What’s more, all systems are flexible and might be adapted quickly and inexpensively to new room requirements and layouts.

Cost-efficient

   The cost is one of the main concerns of every business owner. But IoT is aiming not only to make the work easier but more profitable and inexpensive too. Digitalization is the key to making your building cost-efficient while going easy on natural resources. Today’s networking capability and virtually unlimited computing power and storage provided by the cloud, allow digitalized building life-cycle process. Sensors producing and evaluating data enable smart offices to reply intelligently to their environment. As an example, by forecasting the weather, the user demand, and also the power consumption, they additionally optimize energy consumption.

Eco-friendly

¬† ¬†Optimizing more processes in the workflow will result in increased efficiency. That means less waste of resources. And in today’s world, this must be one of the top priorities of every business. Not only it is a good deed, but it has financial benefits too! The no-waste policy not only saves money, but it is also smiled upon by the government, which means possible subsidies.

Interactive ‚Äď people to people and people to office

   Here your imagination can go wild! Even in Star Wars Episode IV Han Solo doesn’t have wireless headphones! To be fair, that happened in a galaxy far, far away.

   Boosted workplaces bring people together, enabling effortless workflow and collaboration between employees. There are systems and solutions that will help to identify any problems which might occur in the workplace. One example of this is the detection of ghost meetings and such occurring that the work doesn’t benefit from. See live insights into the usage patterns of your meeting rooms, offices, and modern workplace environments using smart technology! Through ongoing monitoring, you will gain a better understanding of your team’s behavior, helping you to improve their overall working experience. They will also have control over the working environment, making it perfect for their needs.

   Removing menial tasks and unnecessary obstacles, smart office solutions let employees focus on what matters.

   By streamlining the employee-to-facility management channel, smart office solutions can also radically reduce the time and effort to report broken or missing equipment. Easy and effortless reporting leads to quicker repairs. And so on.

   A smart office creates value in different areas of the business, ranging from saving energy, better utilization of real estate, and employee productivity. We probably missed some of the many benefits of the smart office. We hope that by reading this you got some inspiration and ideas on how to make your workspace better.

   Everyone knows a happy worker is a productive worker. And in the right environment, to be happy comes so much easier. If you are smart your office will be too.

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A DIY Outdoor LoRaWAN¬ģ Gateway with Battery Backup

A DIY Outdoor LoRaWAN¬ģ Gateway with Battery Backup

   When we first started researching the world of IoT and working in that sphere, there were a lot of challenges. Hardware shortage was one of them. Thus, while finding our way in the technological jungle we decided to make our own outdoor LoRaWAN gateway, as we needed it to continue our work. 

¬† ¬†As we’ve mentioned before working with RAKwireless is a big part of our growth. Using their products our team sharpens our knowledge and we can learn about the ever-growing IoT. So, naturally, this project implements one of their products.

   Here is the Hackster article we’ve made a while back as an experiment and a working exercise, documenting the process of making our DIY outdoor LoRaWAN gateway.

¬† ¬†Click and enjoy it! Maybe this tutorial will help you as well ūüôā

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The benefits of LoRaWAN for agricultural monitoring and control

The benefits of LoRaWAN for agricultural monitoring and control

   Agriculture is not easy. It demands hard work, vast knowledge, resources, you name it. At the same time most folks are quite aware of reports on population growth, global warming, consumer demands, etc., and also the pressure on our planet’s supply of food, water, and land. The farmers have the chance to use the leveraged technological breakthroughs to adapt agricultural practices to changing times, particularly with the emergence of Smart Agriculture using LoRaWAN for agricultural monitoring and control.

   Modern Agribusiness heavily depends on the ability to efficiently manage resources to reduce environmental impact, minimize cost and maximize yield. Farmers face an interconnected host of challenges and, therefore, have an interest in incorporating innovative technological solutions. IoT devices have provided the flexibility to automatically monitor crops and animals, providing valuable data that has traditionally been collected manually, also as controlling systems and equipment throughout an operation.

   By dispersing sensors connected to their phones or computers, farmers instantly retrieve data on soil temperature and moisture, pollution levels, climatic conditions and rainfall, crop growth, livestock conditions, and location, also receive alerts on fire or theft and activate harvesters and irrigation equipment.

   These incredible powers depend upon a low-cost, flexibly deployed network infrastructure, where gateways may be added to enable the transmission of information from a sensor to farmers’ devices over long distances in often remote locations, where cellular coverage poor.

   The global population is anticipated to grow by 70% by 2050, putting ever-increasing pressure on agriculture to feed the globe. At the same time land and water shortages, changing consumer patterns and a worldwide strive toward preserving natural environmental resources like soil quality boost the burden on farmers to balance the varied demands. So far, farmers have had to observe manually the condition of their livestock, environment, or agricultural produce, even on large farms. Their property also requires safety controls and security protection against natural disasters, theft, and accidents.

¬† ¬†LoRaWAN¬ģ is allowing a network infrastructure to be built to cover large rural and regional areas and connect with thousands of sensors affordably, reliably, and securely, providing data-driven solutions that simplify farm resource management. Farmers receive granular real-time data on a range of measures like soil moisture, rainfall, water use, and inventory enabling them to boost key areas such as water efficiency and productivity.

¬† ¬†With LoRaWAN¬ģ technology, whose long-range, low-power wireless sensors can send data from the farm to the Cloud, via private or public networks, farmers have easy and quick access to a bunch of data for improving their businesses, with a definite advantage over satellites and drones. Such high-value data can be transmitted over distances of up to 15 km from sensors with batteries lasting up to 10 years, leading to lower maintenance and operating costs along with greater operational visibility, which successively empowers farmers to scale their businesses.

   For example, intensive manpower may be replaced by automatized modes of monitoring and maintenance. The benefits are two-fold: farmers can detect irrigation necessities based on the weather forecast, irrigation detection, moisture, etc. while detecting faults within the irrigation system. This avoids time-consuming checking of the systems on the field and potential loss of crops.

¬† ¬† LoRaWAN¬ģ technology can bring a lot of benefits to farmers

  • Increased efficiencies: the flexibility to align the timing and application of crop inputs with the seasonal performance of paddocks.
  • Improved water efficiency: Understanding rainfall and soil moisture allow for smarter production decisions.
  • Integrating sensors and modeling: More accurate and reliable outcomes by incorporating the farm‚Äôs data into production modeling tools.
  • Remote management: the ability to not only monitor multiple sites but to also send commands from the network back to a sensor or actuator.
  • Deeper farm insights: Objective, automated data collection to build a deeper understanding of farm performance.

¬† ¬†At the World Ag Expo that took place Feb. 11-13 in Tulare, California, the LoRa Alliance¬ģ¬† showed their LoraWAN Connected Farm. Using LoRaWAN technology that allows sensors to simply and easily connect to a network to capture valuable insights about water use, soil quality, livestock management, and many other applications they showed what it is capable of. Farmers are already using the technology to make smarter irrigation decisions, to better monitor crops and track livestock, to track farm equipment and farm and field conditions, and to monitor supply levels, etc.

   Water conservation is important across the world, and agriculture consumes a lot of the usable water on the planet. LoRaWAN can be used to monitor and control usage, which has been demonstrated to reduce water consumption by up to 30 percent, while also reducing manual labor costs for irrigation checks and so on.

   Specific benefits of LoRaWAN for agricultural applications include that it doesn’t require cellular connectivity to establish a network, meaning networks can be installed anywhere there is the capability of transmitting over extremely long ranges in rural environments.

¬† ¬†Until now, the implementation of automated monitoring and control systems has been limited by the poor coverage of cellular networks in many highly productive but sparsely populated rural areas. Thanks to LPWA technologies like LoRaWAN¬ģ, IoT now enables detection, monitoring, and control over a very long distance.

   Networks can be public or private, depending on the end-user needs. Compared to cellular data rates, LoRaWAN is extremely cost-effective in sending messages from sensors that can be embedded anywhere, are battery-powered, and can last up to 10 years on a single battery. LoRaWAN technology has been proven to result in one-tenth of the power usage, or in the case of battery-powered devices, 10x the battery life of competing for machine-to-machine technologies. Because LoRaWAN leverages the unlicensed radio spectrum in the ISM band, it does not incur the operating expenses associated with having licensed wireless connectivity like cellular 4G or LTE for each end device in the network. Additionally, features such as TDoA geolocation capabilities allow operators to locate valuable assets in the field.

This ever-growing and quite amazing technology offer a lot of valuable agriculture solutions

  • Soil health – Farmers can monitor soil quality from the surface to roots, compare areas, modulate fertilizing, analyze historical patterns, and better manage crops long-term.
    • Manage soil quality from topsoil to below roots.
    • Detailed soil quality data including soil moisture, salinity, and NPK at three different depths.
    • Diagnose problem areas and compare soil between zones.
  • Rainfall – Farmers can accurately record rainfall and other climatic conditions set flood risk alarms and other alerts in changes in water quality or overuse of phytosanitary products.
    • Accurately and remotely record rainfall across different parts of the farm.
    • Enables efficient irrigation scheduling.
    • Regular updates to permit for fast assessment of rain events.
  • Cattle monitoring –¬† Farmers can better monitor animal conditions, like temperature, estrus, disease, productivity, location likewise as better prevent the loss or theft of livestock.
    • Remotely monitor the health, behavior, and location of livestock.
    • Be aware of early signs of illness in animals.
    • Track the location of livestock to better manage pasture utilization.
  • Irrigation control – Farmers can now schedule and apply the proper amount of water to crops, reducing waste and costs.
    • Control irrigation pumps, and switch them on and off remotely to optimize water and energy usage.
    • Optimized irrigation control based on multiple inputs including water flow, energy usage, soil moisture, and environmental factors.
  • Asset monitoring – Farmers can now oversee storage conditions, receive alerts on gates and equipment, and better track and internal control the complete supply chain.
    • Secure assets and send notifications when the asset is used or tampered with.
    • Provide access to multiple authorized groups.
    • Reduce vandalism and damage.
  • Fluid level monitoring
    • Tank and storage level monitoring of liquids (water, diesel, oil).
    • Remote identification of pressure drops and leaks.
    • Anticipate refill schedules and ensure fluid levels are maintained to fulfill the requirements of the farm.

   You know, with technologies like that, where everything is happening on your phone or other mobile devices, farming can become like your Facebook farms. The process will be similar, clicking a few buttons, but the results will be quite real.

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How LoRaWAN¬ģ can convert your outdated RS485

How LoRaWAN¬ģ can convert your outdated RS485

   The RS485 serial interface is typically used in the construction of industrial networks that transmit small blocks of information over long distances. All good right? However technology is everchanging and there are other, more sophisticated solutions of data transmission out there. RS485 to LoRaWAN converters are a thing and in this article we will explain what that means!

   What is RS485?

   RS485 uses a balanced two-wire line to transmit information in half-duplex mode and can support up to 32 nodes (drivers and receivers) in a bidirectional network.     

   Up to 256 nodes can be included when using high-power drivers. Network nodes can be personal computers, microcontrollers, and any other devices capable of asynchronous serial communication.

   With an exchange rate of 9600 bit/s, reliable transmission of information over a distance of 1200 m is guaranteed. At smaller distances, depending on their specific size and parameters of the link, the exchange rate can reach up to 10 Mbit/s. For more nodes and longer distances, repeaters can be used to regenerate the signals.

   Devices with an RS485 interface are usually sufficient solution for system integrators with a limited budget.

¬† ¬†The biggest downside to using remote RS485 I/O devices over alternative technologies is the speed of communication. Among other disadvantages of the RS485 devices, experts point to several practical limitations at the physical level. Although the RS485 communication interface data acquisition devices can be used to build multi-point communication networks, the standard architecture is limited to a maximum of 32 linear drivers and a single-wire two-line bus receiver. Besides, only one node in the entire network can transmit data to the bus at a time All other units must wait in ‚Äúreceive‚ÄĚ status.

   The process of configuring or updating RS485-based devices can be extremely time-consuming. Operators need to set each communication parameter individually. Replacing RS485 devices or extending an existing RS485 network usually forces them to transfer a PC between different production units to configure field parameters or update the firmware of each field device individually.

   In a network that includes hundreds of devices up to 1200 m apart, there are inconveniences and costs involved in hiring an operator to carry a personal computer from one field device to the next.

   Despite the traditional drawbacks noted above, many system integrators continue to choose RS485-based I/O modules over other alternatives. This is due to their simplified design, ease of administration, and low cost of implementation and maintenance. Also, the RS485 modules can establish peer-to-peer communication between devices up to 1220 meters apart without the need for repeaters.

   Another advantage of RS485 data communication devices over many alternatives is their relatively low cost, which makes them attractive opportunities for organizations that do not have large budgets.

   It is important to note that in most cases these are applications that are not inherently critical to production, which explains the low priority placed on preventing data loss and networking to ensure uninterrupted connection or reducing system downtime.

¬† ¬†Today’s industries are becoming more intelligent and sophisticated, and so should be the network devices used in data collection systems.

   As a result, smart system integrators are looking not only for easy-to-use and cost-effective solutions but also for network devices that are easier to install and maintain and reliable enough for backup.

   An intelligent RS485 data collection device should not only bring all the key benefits of RS485 communication but also offer solutions to overcome the traditional limitations of the standard.

   Even though Modbus and RS485 serial connections are fairly old technologies, both are still widely used today embedded by manufacturers in various sensors, I/O modules, and gateways involved in industrial, building, and IoT automation in general. 

¬† ¬†Why use LoRa¬ģ?

  • Long-range, handles many end devices.
  • Very low power consumption.
  • Ideal for measurement rates of a few times per hour Measure rate can be as fast as 15 seconds and scheduled to meet special needs.
  • High security that allows privacy, measurement integrity, and authenticity.
  • Data can be restricted to company LAN or connected to cloud services.
  • It is up to date with the latest IoT standards and can integrate with existing applications.

   There are multiple companies (like RAKwireless, Dragino, USR IoT, Cascademic, Comtac, Ebyte, and so on) out there on the market, that develop and sell converters that allow you to connect your RS485 to a LoRaWAN network and make them work together.

   It converts the RS485 devices into a LoRaWAN device which simplifies the IoT installation and reduces the installation/maintaining cost.

   Such a converter allows the user to monitor/control RS485 devices. It provides long-range spread spectrum communication and high interference immunity whilst minimizing current consumption. It targets professional wireless sensor network applications such as irrigation systems, smart metering, smart cities, smartphone detection, building automation, and so on.

   Converters can prove helpful in projects where a wired approach can be over the desired budget or as a replacement for faulty wired communication. Wires are just not modern anymore. In project use cases with multiple facilities or rigid terrain or multiple floors which requires costly and complex wired network cabling for simple data monitoring a converter is a budget solution worth considering. It is a practical one that can facilitate enterprise manufacturing while reducing maintenance efforts, reducing costs, and accelerating business growth.