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What is the Right LPWAN Technology for Smart Cities?

What is the Right LPWAN Technology for Smart Cities?

By Phil Beecher, Wi-SUN Alliance™  

When it comes to Smart Cities, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a true game changer in terms of the opportunity it presents to unlock operational efficiency and improve quality of life. While there is still some way to go before we see widespread adoption of Smart City technology, leading cities like Chicago, Copenhagen and Paris are already demonstrating the benefits.

For a city to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace, then essential citizen services must be reliable, timely and efficient. Choosing the right communication network technology is a foundational step towards enabling a range of Industrial IoT and Smart City solutions. A recent report from Riot Research on LPWAN Revenue predicted that by 2020 LPWAN protocols would be the most successful standard in terms of device connections for IoT applications.

A physical obstruction can cause a local outage that will prevent these systems from operating. Consequently, the inflexibility of this solution architecture makes star-based technologies a poor choice for Smart City networks.

Conversely, Wi-SUN networks are based on a mesh architecture that has been designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind and to maintain highly reliable connectivity even in the most challenging environments.

Within a mesh network, any device can connect seamlessly with its peers and can create multiple redundant connection paths across the network. Thus, mesh networks actually become more reliable and resilient as they grow. If there happens to be an outage, an endpoint will automatically re-route network traffic through an alternate connection path. Similarly if the landscape changes, then the mesh will adapt to ensure continuous connectivity.

The ability to communicate peer-to-peer enables mesh devices to collaborate at the edge  This flexible and distributed solution architecture makes mesh solutions ideally suited to enable advanced Smart City applications.

Wi-SUN currently leads the way in connected lighting installations in Smart Cities. While smart lighting deployments can deliver immediate operational savings, they also establish ubiquitous connectivity, making it relatively easy and cost-effective to add new applications such as smart parking and environmental monitoring. A further example of this is traffic management whereby the flow of traffic can be controlled to reduce congestion, a particularly useful tool in Smart City environments.

Finally, Wi-SUN uses open standards which avoids the need to be locked into one vendor and provides yet another advantage for its versatility and use in Smart City applications but that’s a topic for another day.