Low-power, long-range sensor networks should be seen for what they are: a potentially disruptive technology. Better known by its acronym “LoRa”, the networks fulfill many of the same practical functions that other “smart building” networks do, but at a disruptive fraction of the cost.
LoRa networks aren’t a universal panacea of all things IoT. For example, a LoRa network can’t match the sheer range of niche capabilities dreamed up by imaginative marketing departments working with higher bandwidth protocols or powered sensors.
Nevertheless, its range of capabilities is impressive when taken as an essential piece of an IoT Smart Cities strategy, accounting for many of the bread-and-butter, practical applications necessary for building maintenance and management that drive to the bottom line of property ownership.
Huge multi-national building management companies extoll the virtues of a unified dashboard that inform and schedule a maintenance team. Allied to advances in AI, they have taken the connected building to a pinnacle of connectivity. Inevitably, the cost of leveraging those tools is heart-stoppingly high, which makes for difficult ROI calculations.
Contrast that with the cost of constructing a LoRa sensor network to perform many of the same functions, and that ROI conversation is rather less problematic.
It’s important to work with a reputable design and integration partner to plan what the benefits will be to a property, development, or the community. With that knowledge in hand, monthly recurring costs include visualization and alerting software platform tools, a SIM card for data backhaul, and whatever integration partner retainer costs you agree. Add that to the one-time cost of under a thousand dollars for a commercial gateway, plus the cost of the sensors themselves, and that’s pretty much it.
There’s no cabling to be done, no external power needed, batteries last up to ten years, and physical installation takes a couple of minutes at most.
One of the best features of LoRa networks is that it’s possible to add new applications incrementally, conducting a proof-of-concept before charging head-first into an application and then being forced to have a difficult conversation with your CFO. Just add different sensors to the existing gateway.
LoRa sensor networks represent the leading edge of Smart Cities technology. It is no longer the bleeding edge. Such networks have been operating in Europe for years, and sensors for the North American market are being added all the time.
Intelligent adoption of LoRa sensor technology is the gateway to providing things like cost savings on maintenance, lowering water usage, improving facilities and enhanced services. Ultimately, a substantial number of sensors is the only way to reasonably accomplish those goals. For a fiscally sensible set of solutions, the only logical choice is a LoRa network.