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Exploring the future of LoRaWAN in the IoT ecosystem

The potential of the LoRaWAN® protocol throughout some of IoT´s biggest verticals: Industry 4.0, Smart Tracking and Smart Cities

Looking back to when I first dived into the industry of the Internet of Things, a world of possibilities opened before my eyes. Suddenly there was potential to fight humanity's biggest challenges and make the world a better place.

Especially the technology of LoRaWAN® promises to offer easy solutions with its ability to collect data across big distances, through a wireless way, essentially making it applicable to any situation.

That is why I would like to share this article on LoRaWAN®, tag along with me as we discover together what influence it has on the IoT ecosystem.

The world of IoT has been ever-expanding. The number of IoT devices has officially exceeded the number of non-IoT devices worldwide. From 6.1B IoT devices in 2017 to an estimated 16.4B in 2022, making up a staggering 61,9% of total devices globally.

Within all global IoT connections, LPWAN devices are expected to grow by 109% until 2023, reaching more than 1B active connections.

Research estimates that LoRaWAN® will be the leading non-cellular LPWAN technology by 2026. It will account for more than half of all non-cellular LPWA connections, ensuring the start of a splendid future. In the segment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), LoRaWAN® is the most popular technology. This is because its long range and power efficiency make it superior to established protocols like Wi-Fi from a technical and financial standpoint.

This maturing ecosystem of LoRaWAN® by the LoRa Alliance currently counts many verticals, each with specific use cases. The fastest-growing verticals include Industry 4.0, Smart Tracking, and Smart Cities. But what is Industry 4.0 exactly? What are the biggest breakthroughs in Smart Tracking? And how are cities becoming smarter? Continue reading to find out.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, also known as the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, is a concept of integrating smart manufacturing, machinery, AI-powered automation, and advanced analytics into the manufacturing industry. The goal is to help every worker and factory to become more efficient.

The Industrial Internet of Things is greatly improving the manufacturing industry by optimizing traditional workflows. It gives manufacturers more visibility throughout the whole manufacturing process, and in turn, makes this data immediately available to consumers and applications. This ensures that manufacturers know how processes are developing, which makes them able to implement fast changes when necessary.

iiot environment

A big part of IIoT is machine learning, made possible by capturing data and coupling that with real-time predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. By using this method, machines can be trained to identify potential patterns that could result in future failure. If the data is concerning, the algorithm can automatically report it for further investigation, helping to save huge amounts of money, whilst delivering better quality services and products.

Smart Tracking

Smart tracking has been amongst the first applications to gain momentum in the early years of IoT. Before that, tracking was always done using cellular or satellite connections. With the new availability of LPWAN technologies, such as LoRaWAN®, it became much easier to get insights into data that was never that sophisticated before. Now we can easily draw important information quickly, like the location of the asset, but also key information like the status of the object, temperature, speed, and asset-specific information.

Smart Tracking can be used in many different verticals. A very popular use case is Fleet Management. Vehicle fleets are the lifeline of many companies, and can therefore benefit greatly from an upgrade to their machinery. By implementing a fleet management solution, they can reduce costs by improving fuel usage, benefitting from better safety for their staff, having visibility into maintenance issues, reducing downtime, and improving overall operational visibility. Previously, an operator would have to manually record this data, enter it into a database and be slow to respond by taking actions retroactively.

fleet management

Not only is smart tracking of excellent use for fleet management, but it is also a perfect application for asset tracking. The logistics industry is an enormous market that could greatly benefit from smart tracking too. Smaller assets, parcels, equipment, and vehicles are easily lost, as real-time tracking information is often scarce. With the implementation of LoRaWAN®, many of the assets can be easily tracked, even across borders. That is especially the case with LoRa 2.4GHz, the global frequency band which features the highest possible data rate at 253.91 kbit/s, being almost seven times higher than the maximum data rate of LoRaWAN at 868 MHz.

Smart Cities

The world´s population has been increasingly moving to cities in the past decades. This has kicked off the start of making everyday life easier by implementing IoT in various fields like energy, mobility, infrastructure, governance, and healthcare. By making these changes, municipalities can provide the services required to meet the urban influx adequately.

LPWA networks, especially LoRaWAN®, provide solutions that are optimized for Smart City applications. The technology delivers sensors that are battery-powered and can last up to ten years without needing a battery replacement. Furthermore, a radius of up to 3 miles (5 km) ensures maximum coverage in a densely populated city.

fleet management

Just as an example, the city of Calgary is using LoRaWAN® to reduce noise pollution in the city. They built a network of acoustic sensors that are set to improve noise monitoring. The fabrication of the sensors uses low-power, wide-area radio transceivers between the sensor nodes and the network server. This LoRaWAN® solution limits network maintenance and transmits data with ease and is robust enough in Canadian weather conditions.

calgary noise monitoring
calgary noise monitoring

Final thoughts

The technology of LoRaWAN® knows many benefits that make the creation of any IoT project child’s play.

Smart Tracking alone has an array of different use cases, from fleet management to asset and parcel tracking, I believe this vertical will keep the crown for the biggest industry for a bit longer.

The Industrial Internet of Things will also continue to grow due to its many benefits, amongst which are the biggest points of interest: reducing costs and improving safety.

Lastly, the vertical of Smart Cities is continuing to gain momentum as well. With many big cities implementing the technology, we can only dream of long-awaited efficiency and public transport arriving on time.

All in all, the availability of any sort of device uniquely tied to specific use cases, and the high level of interoperability of the technology definitely show the maturity of the ecosystem of LoRaWAN® by the LoRa Alliance.

With more IoT devices connected than non-IoT, we are in the era of the Internet of Things growing exponentially. It's spreading across the globe and being adopted in virtually any industry now.

As an IoT enthusiast, I can't wait to see how the technology will continue to shape the world for the better, as well as our lives, and continue fighting against humanity's biggest challenges.

Alyssa Hazewinkel

Alyssa Hazewinkel
Social Media & Content Manager