London’s first LoRa base station

London’s first LoRa base station

Peter Karney, Head of Product Innovation at the Digital Catapult, blogs about London’s first LoRa base station being installed on the roof of the Digital Catapult Centre and what benefits it will offer for IoT innovation.

Working in close partnership with OpenTRV (one of IoTUK’s Showcase companies) the Digital Catapult has installed and made available to all, a LoRa base station in Central London. LoRa stands for Long Range Radio, and is one of the new radio technologies targeted for M2M and IoT networks.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 14.14.57 Providing a range of around five miles in urban and up to eight miles in suburban areas, LoRa is ideal for the deployment of sensors, devices and actuators where small amounts of data are transmitted periodically, or when a given event occurs.

LoRa operates in the ISM band 868 MHz and 915 MHz and the spread spectrum modulation type uses wide-band linear FM pulses. The frequency increases or decreases over certain periods, which is used to encode data information that can be transmitted. The network provides two bi-directional capabilities meaning that mission critical solutions can be realised.

One of the key advantages of this type of technology is that it consumes very little power meaning a sensor can run from a small 200mAH battery for many years. This is what sets this technology apart from 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which all have either power or range limitations.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 14.14.46The LoRa base station will allow the next breed of IoT devices to be deployed literally anywhere; opening up a plethora of new opportunities and markets, ranging from security, environmental and agricultural, through to wearable and gaming applications.

The bandwidth used is open and free and the network equipment end point modules are low cost and readily available from suppliers such as CPC and Radio Spares, making it an ideal technology for experimentation and the testing of new solutions, business cases and services. Within two days we had our first prototype ideas sending data from the base station.

The base station sends data to the things network making it easily accessible and quick to get going. Users can choose to encrypt their data or keep it open. This deployment brings us a step closer to building smart city solutions, but literally only your imagination limits what you can do. We believe that an abundance of Internet of Things (IoT) data connectivity will lead to an exponential growth in innovation. We look forward to helping you bring your ideas and concepts to life.

Mark Hill, Co-Founder at Open TRV explains how he thinks London’s first LoRa base station will benefit the local community: “The economics of sensor deployments have changed, and by having this gateway on the roof of the Digital Catapult it provides communications for a large swathe of central London.

“We at OpenTRV like to think of this as the missing link in the evolution of the Internet of Things. Low cost sensors, simplified deployment, cloud based analytics and now free connectivity have reached the point where the combination is so cost effective that the business case moves into the no-brainer category.”

He added: “Whether monitoring activity levels for vulnerable residents, providing healthy buildings or speeding buses to pick up waiting passengers, by providing this infrastructure the Digital Catapult has opened up the southern half of Camden to new applications from service providers and the community that can’t be justified without this resource.”

You can follow Peter Karney, Head of Product Innovation at the Digital Catapult, on Twitter @pjcoolk. Don’t forget to follow us too @IoTUKNews.

Peter Karney
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