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LoRa Technology for IoT

Cities are growing and are using new smarter solutions for improving the quality of life of people. IoT is one such solution that is being used for smarter, more efficient data-driven operations. But the biggest challenge in IoT is M2M communication that needs communication over long ranges with low power level usage. This issue is solved by a new wireless technology called as LoRa (Long Range). LoRa is long range, low power consumption technology that is used for building IoT networks worldwide. Public and private networks using this technology can provide coverage that is greater in range compared to that of existing cellular networks. A lot of LoRa operators are cellular operators like Bouygues Telecom, Proximus, SingTel, Swisscom and FastNet.

The LoRa alliance is an association that was launched at Mobile World Congress in 2015. It was initiated by various companies to standardize Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for the IoT, smart city, Machine 2 machine and industrial applications. LoRa alliance includes companies namely Eolane,Actility, Cisco, IBM, Kerlink, Sagemcom, Semtech, IMST, MultiTech as well as leading telecom operators named above. Semtech is the company which build LoRa technology on chipsets and these chipsets are then mounted into the IoT products

LoRa technology uses LoRaWAN protocol which is developed by LoRa alliance. It uses unlicensed radio spectrum in ISM band 868 MHz-915 MHz for communication between sensors (nodes) and gateways connected to a network server as given in the figure below.

Figure 1 Simplified Network Diagram

Each LoRa gateway has the ability to handle up to millions of nodes. The signals can span a significant distance and hence there are fewer infrastructures required thus making the network cheaper and faster to implement. LoRa RF transceivers are embedded in sensor and gateways transmit data over a long range using minimal power for indoor and outdoor IoT applications.

Figure 2 Network Diagram

LoRa technology is used in wide variety of applications like cattle tracking, smart parking, air pollution monitoring, agriculture processing, fall detection, fire detection, home security, industrial temperature, smart lighting, waste management, water management etc.

For eg. In case of an elderly person, falling down and not being able to get up is a very scary prospect this can be monitored by IoT based fall detection system embedded by LoRa technology. Movement data is collected by sensors and all the data is sent to LoRa gateway as person moves. A gateway sends the information to the cloud where the data is analyzed by an application to determine what is normal and what is not. The application server sends reports and alerts on the fall and location of the person to a computer or mobile device. As such the LoRa network is easy to deploy and it can be used for a large number of Internet of Things applications.

-Shriya Sontakke (2016-18)

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