Smart City Applications
Caravela Smart Cities applications focus on real-time monitoring of ambient sensor data from the environment and from physical infrastructure to make life better in any urban, suburban or rural area. No power, no problem. No network, no problem.
Sensors tell us about the current and historical status of environmental conditions or physical objects such as roads, bridges, waterways or buildings. They can also tell us about people, how many are in one place, how many have walked through a doorway today, whether they are moving around. Analyzed sensor data software tells us if we need to throw salt on the sidewalk, empty a garbage skip, turn on room ventilation, or water the grass, and then keep track of when the situation was responded to.
Smart Cities applications must be practical. They aren’t justifiable if there’s not a compelling business model that will either make or save money. So solutions like knowing if there’s basement water intrusion, leaking plumbing, a failed commercial freezer, the unwanted presence of rodents, or a myriad of other events that would otherwise go unnoticed directly improve the bottom line.
Identifying your application goal is the first step toward building a Smart City. What do you want to accomplish, and what information do you need to make it a reality? Caravela helps you determine the sensors you need, how many to install and where they should be placed. We identify the appropriate network and connect the sensors, ensuring secure connectivity, and organize the optimal visualization or alerting tools to respond to the data.
Smart Cities sensors operate over wired or wireless networks. Some networks such as cellular or Ethernet are already built and are ready to consume, while others such as Wi-Fi or LoRa often have to be built to accommodate the sensors. Some networks have a monthly recurring operating cost, while others require a hardware investment and are free to use thereafter.
The needs of an application may require a long range, a large number of sensors, a broad coverage area, high bandwidth, building penetration or a long-life sensor battery . Contact us to discuss your specific needs and we will be able to advise you on your options.
The Caravela IoT team is comprised of top-level cybersecurity and data science professionals. Data transmitted via the Smart City Network is encrypted and secure. Sensors can only “talk” to our network gateway and no data is personally identifiable.
There are 3 main types of sensors that detect and measure elements of the physical world:
Motion sensors detect a change in the position of an object with respect to its original reference location. Motion is specified in terms of displacement, velocity, direction, acceleration and time.
Power sensors monitor power consumption, current metering and voltage detection.
Environmental sensors measure a huge diversity of conditions, including temperature, light, noise, fluid, humidity, proximity, tilt, pressure, flow and much, much more.
What is a LoRa Network?
You may not be familiar with them, but LoRa networks are popular in Europe and are just starting to gain momentum in North America. It is a low-power, wide-area wireless network network that connects low-bandwidth, battery-powered devices with low bit rates over a long distance.
LoRa networks capture sensor data reliably within a 3-mile (5km) radius of a service antenna that acts as a gateway collection point. The gateway then transmits collected data to a secure data center. LoRa is also 2-way, so it’s possible to send signals to the device, machine or sensor as well as collect data from it. Hundreds of sensors for multiple applications can simultaneously report to a single antenna with no impact on system performance, allowing you to monitor many sensor endpoints in an affordable and economically sustainable manner. Place a sensor anywhere without having to utilize wires for power or connectivity. Service antennas can easily be attached to local electrical poles or placed on building rooftops.
The Caravela Smart City Solution
From concept to collection, our team will guide you through the process so that you’re collecting vital data as soon as possible. We get that IoT can be intimidating… but we’re not!
- Understand goals and objectives
- Determine the right sensors needed for your application
- Advise on the number of sensors required and the best locations to place them
- Help install and connect to a local network (LoRa or Cellular)
- Ensure sending and receiving of data to the secure cloud
- Help determine the best tool(s) for you to analyze/visualize your data
Caravela’s solutions are entirely open source. We present raw sensor input as an SQL queryable interface to enable actionable insights. This means that you can use your data in limitless ways – integrating with a variety of different solutions without being tethered to a high-cost, proprietary software package and lengthy contract.
Our open source storage solutions allow you to use your data in any software, storage or infrastructure that works for you. Tools such as Grafana or Tableau help many of our customers visualize their data.
In need of a custom visualization tool? The Caravela team can bring your data to life with a configurable, flexible and seamless single pane of glass dashboard. Imagine having all the information you need, right at your fingertips? Our team will work with you to create a custom dashboard with the information most important to you.
See an example dashboard we have made with weather and air quality data collected at our office in Milwaukee.
Which network is best for your application?
IoT connectivity technologies fall broadly into two groups: LPWAN (LoRa) and cellular IoT networks. Each are best suited to different needs – but it isn’t always an “either or” issue. Some scenarios make use of creative hybrid connectivity that utilizes both technologies. Note that most sensors, however, are designed for use with one over the other (i.e. LoRa sensors or cellular sensors).
Low-Power, Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) utilize sensors that run on small, inexpensive batteries that last years in an operating range that is typically ~3 miles in urban settings.
LPWANs are best suited for sending and receiving small amounts of data in a dense location (cities or large buildings) that require long-term monitoring. LoRa LPWAN sensors connect to gateway devices without any connectivity fees (similar to how your devices might connect to a WiFi network).
Cellular networks require contracted service agreements, with fees per sensor. In addition to the expense, cellular sensors also struggle with battery life, gaps in coverage and technology sunsetting. Sunsetting is when a technology is intentionally phased out: there are currently more than 30 million 2G endpoints in the US that no longer work due to sunsetting.
Cellular networks are best suited for sending larger amounts of data and in cases where short battery life is not a concern. Hardware is typically more expensive. Cellular-based IoT solutions are generally utilized by larger corporations or for smaller sensor deployment numbers.