Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017


LoRaWAN for exploring the Internet of Things

Talk Hard: A technical, political, and cultural look at LoRaWAN for IoT

Everyone is excited about the The Internet of Things (IoT) and the possibilities of really seeing the democratization of the internet, devices for everyone needs, not just a few! If we are to achieve, then these devices must be design and built by everyone, we must create a Zine like industry, beyond the current makers of today, to enable people of all ages, gender (including non-binary), and race, to build devices suited to their own needs. LoRaWAN is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things in regional, national or global networks. LoRaWAN target key requirements of Internet of Things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services.

In this talk, I will introduce LoRaWAN as a key radio technology for IoT and walk through why it is a technologically important development as I show how to build LoRaWAN node applications to explore the possibility of IoT. There are a number of LoRaWAN networks emerging across Europe and I will highlight the political importance of why these networks should be open, supporting Open Data and Open Science and empowering the development of a new set application domains.

The lecture will involve a demonstration of an LoRaWAN application that will showcase the both the node and Gateway aspects of a deployed network.

Soon, everything on Earth will be connected via peer-to-peer networking and/or the public Internet, with a multitude of sensor-driven devices dramatically changing our lives and our environment. These devices will be based on a wide variety of devices, ranging from tiny (e.g., microcontrollers) to huge (e.g., cloud servers), with one thing in common: they will require a radio connection to a Gateway that is connected to the internet, in some form or another. While Bluetooth LE or even Wi-fi might be used around the "smart" house or within a limited range, the battery limitations of the later and the range limitations of the former mean it is unlikely that these standards will form the backbone of a IoT network.

For IoT there are a number of competing radio standards, e.g. LoRa and SigFox, both are long range and provide the ability to build nodes that are very low-power, with a potential battery life of 2 or more years, while providing a long range, often in access of 10km. A key feature of these standards is they are low-bandwidth, often each message is limited to 100 or so bytes, for SigFox even less. Each standard has its drawbacks but SigFox requires more expensive chipsets for the Gateway side of things, which is not the case for LoRa, and as such this has seen the development of community, crowd sourced, LoRa networks, based on LoRaWAN. One example of this is The Things Network, who community has been developing Gateways, nodes, cloud backends, and software to run on these, all open source, supporting open data and open science. In Bristol we are deploying a LoRaWAN network built on existing wireless infrastructure locations, provided by Bristol Wireless.

In this lecture I will introduce LoRaWAN from a technical perspective, providing examples, and also look at the IoT and LoRaWAN networks from a political perspective.

I will bring a portable LoRaWAN network that we have developed at the University of West of England, mostly for testing radio capabilities but also allowing us to demo LoRaWAN and IoT on the move, and also some example nodes, some of which will be used by the audience. This will demonstrate the use of The Things Network backend infrastructure to provide an internet backend and bring the internet part of Internet of Things. We will provide demos that the audience will be able to interact with during the session and see the results live during the talk.


Photo of Benedict Gaster (cuberoo_) Benedict Gaster (cuberoo_)