As more people head to urban areas, the opportunity for smart city innovation increases. To create a more sustainable society and deliver increased benefits to its citizens, governments regularly look for new technologies that can positively affect their communities. Semtech’s long-range wireless communications devices, wireless technology and low-power wide-area networks use a protocol that provides a streamlined way to process the information garnered through a network of sensors to determine the most effective and efficient ways to maintain cities, ultimately improving the lives of their residents.
Semtech uses its trademark LoRa, a stylized contraction of the words “long range,” to refer to its proprietary wireless communications protocol that uses chirp spread-spectrum modulation for high receiver sensitivity and forward error-correction for low bit-error rates, resulting in long-range connectivity. The company uses its trademark LoRaWAN to refer its proprietary way of gathering and processing information via a wide-area network.
How the Data Can Help
Government agencies and municipalities are giving smart city initiatives a high priority as they deploy wide-area networks to collect data and use advanced applications and cloud- or enterprise-based systems to process and analyze that data. As part of internet-of-things (IoT) networks, sensors carefully placed in key areas of the city measure active and passive elements. These measurements allow predictions to be made about pivotal factors that will help cities to thrive and achieve higher efficacy.
The testing of smart city implementations uses a large variety of applications. For example, sensors placed around parking lots measure parking efficiencies. Other sensors help a city to improve waste and water management. Every single component measured forms a small piece of the larger picture, creating a more productive and advanced city.
Why Smart Cities?
One of the most innovative cities in Canada — Calgary, Alberta — has worked for the past 20 year to become one of the largest smart cities in North America. Its focus on leading change by providing critical infrastructure has not waivered.
To make this implementation a reality, Calgary partnered with various technology vendors such as Semtech and worked with the Canadian government to secure grants and access to capital funding. The city deployed more than 300 miles of dark fiber for a high-speed reliable data network with 10 radio towers and Wi-Fi access points installed at traffic intersections. Additional funding for the city’s underlying fiber backbone and new IoT network laid the groundwork for increased connectivity to provide coverage and data transfer capabilities for public safety organizations, water and waste management and transit organizations. These actions allowed Calgary to avoid monthly service expenses that otherwise may have been incurred from mobile carrier tower leases and allowed the city to achieve optimized asset tracking for the city’s 3,345 vehicles.
Calgary’s commitment to innovation led it to conduct extensive research in building a city-owned, secure and resilient IoT infrastructure, which is where Semtech came in. The team in Calgary envisioned a city network-of-things platform (CNot) to be used not only by city officials, but also for its business units and industry partners.
After testing a variety of IoT options, Calgary implemented LoRaWAN wireless radio-frequency wide-area network technology. Some unique advantages of the wide-area network technology include security functionality, ease of implementation and comprehensive network coverage.
Calgary has embraced three real-world implementations of the proprietary wide-area network technology to optimize water use, track assets and monitor noise pollution.
Devonian Gardens: One of the largest indoor gardens of its kind, Devonian Gardens has more than its kind, Devonian Gardens has more than 10,000 ground cover plants, 500 trees, a 900-square-foot living wall, koi ponds and a children’s play area. It is vital to maintain this environment. By using the proprietary digital wireless communications technology, officials can monitor light, humidity, temperature and water. With a better understanding of these fundamental factors, the Devonian Gardens has the ability to create a healthy environment for its diverse flora.
Shanganappi Point Golf Course: Founded in 1915 as an 18-hole course serving 80,000 guests, the Shanganappi golf course has grown to 27 holes and includes a 44-stall driving range and club serving more than 1 million visitors annually. The operator, Calgary Recreation, is placing sensors that use the proprietary wireless communications protocol underneath golf carts to track pace of play. If anomalies are detected, the operator may dispatch course marshals to support golfers in need. The data transmitted via LoRaWAN-based networks provides real-time and historical data about course use on a web-based dashboard that can be easily viewed on a computer or mobile device. These efforts enhance the experience for golfers, increasing return rates and satisfaction.
Reducing noise pollution with the Urban Alliance: Many cities with ever-increasing populations place a high priority on minimizing noise pollution. Calgary set out to build a network of acoustic sensors to improve citywide real-time noise monitoring. In partnership with the University of Calgary, the Urban Alliance coordinated a seamless transfer of technology research for the benefit of the community. The university’s Department of Electrical Computer Engineering helped to build a LoRa-based sensor using edge analytics to characterize noise. The team developed and tested data analytics algorithms allowing the sensors to autonomously detect and classify various urban sounds including traffic, music, construction and more through machine learning. The next step will spatially correlate the noise problems over time and location to improve noise management and enforcement during public events.
Setting the Stage
Several businesses and leading industry partners have requested information about CNoT and are motivated to work closely with Calgary to develop its IoT solutions. With the valuable data and knowledge gained from this real-world implementation, Calgary is setting the stage for continued communication, learning and growth.
Alistair Fulton is vice president and general manager of the Wireless and Sensing Products Group at Semtech. The company offers LoRa long-range digital wireless data communications technology and LoRaWAN networking technology. For information, visit www.semtech.com/lora.