The Caravela team is engaged in a considerable amount of R&D around Smart City applications. What sensors work best, how can different sensors be utilized creatively, what are the properties of various wireless protocols, and who else is doing interesting things in the same space?

The wireless protocol we are most interested in is known as LoRa (a creative abbreviation of low-power, long-range). Our R&D around LoRa is facilitated by the luxury of having created our own city-wide LoRa network by erecting an antenna on the roof of our data center. Fifty feet in antenna height enables a reliable three-mile (five kilometer) range, and we can easily see the Taco Bell in West Allis, which is four miles from the antenna.   

Because we think that there may be other people interested in the same things, we have opened the network up for companies, hobbyists and startups to use – for free. Because we have our own cloud resources, we will even provide a REST interface for the data produced, again at no cost.

The facilities management team of a nearby campus are using it to monitor water leaks in the basements of buildings. They will use it in the winter months to check the reliability of heating in the buildings by placing a $3 temperature sensor next to each heater. All this saves on maintenance work and helps prioritize needs and resources.

When you consider what is in range of our antenna, applications like smart buildings, smart harbor, smart parking, smart cities all come into focus. If a potential user is out of range or in another city, we can help to find a way to place sensors somewhere within range.

Having said all that, what’s your big idea? Let us know.