Game-changing technology for a more sustainable planet

LoRa technology for a sustainable planet
An article by Semtech, a leading global supplier of high performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and advanced algorithms for infrastructure, high-end consumer and industrial equipment.

For companies and organizations around the world a “green mindset” is becoming the norm and is permeating all aspects of their operations. It is now expected that sustainable practices are embraced from the top floor to the shop floor and that there is a continual drive to develop new and more sustainable solutions that use the Internet of Things (IoT). For these solutions to work they must be based around products and technology that are genuinely capable of creating a smarter, more sustainable planet.

With this in mind, Semtech developed a globally adopted LoRa® device-to-Cloud platform which offers a long range, low power solution for IoT applications. The technology enables the rapid development and deployment worldwide of ultra-low power, cost efficient and long range IoT networks, gateways, sensors, module products and IoT services. Key to making this technology work is the implementation of low power wide area networks (LPWANs) for IoT systems – LoRa devices provide the communication layer for the LoRaWAN® standard.

This standard and the growing range of related products on the market are helping to turn IoT ecosystem concepts into reality. Leaders in the sector are continually pushing the technology envelope to boost the prevalence of LPWAN connectivity – and, therefore, sustainability – around the globe. Environmentally-conscious companies and organizations now firmly believe that putting increasing numbers of sensors into operation will have a direct impact on minimizing the effects of climate change.

Smarter and safer

Semtech’s collaboration with SAS, whose analytics solutions are valuable for transforming data into intelligence, is an example where technological solutions are creating a smarter and safer planet. Together, the two companies are developing edge-to-Cloud IoT solutions – combining LPWAN connectivity with SAS’s IoT analytics platform – with the aim of speeding up the processing of intelligent decisions. By doing things faster, it is possible to simplify the creation of IoT solutions that are capable of tackling not just sustainability but also global hunger and natural disasters. The aim is that SAS brings AI, data management and streaming analytics to work with the LPWAN solutions to make the world not just smarter but safer too.

The more interconnected the world is, the easier it will be to monitor and protect a range of natural resources as well as people and their communities. Already, cutting-edge IoT solutions are helping to put the intelligence into smart agriculture as well as air quality monitoring, the protection of species, and energy/water preservation. In a recent report, the World Economic Forum estimated that around 84% of IoT deployments have direct relevance to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. For example, many recent IoT use cases have dealt with flood prevention, energy forecasting, the welfare of livestock and precision agriculture.

In protection against flooding, many tens of thousands of extremely low power, low maintenance and long-life LPWAN devices have been developed for connecting through gateways. The devices help to collect data that measures current situations and detects potential problems before they are able to become disasters. Likewise, in energy forecasting, LPWAN devices are helping to deliver smart energy optimization which enhances the ability to predict and mitigate risk while boosting grid efficiency and keeping people safe.

For precision agriculture, LPWAN technology is able to help farmers embrace sustainability by monitoring the environmental effects of crops production. For example, WaterBit has implemented an automated irrigation solution that allows farmers to measure soil moisture and irrigate remotely. For livestock wellness, IoT systems have made it possible to minimize the negative impacts farming has on the environment while cutting costs and maximizing yield.

Other key application areas for LPWAN/IoT solutions in terms of protecting the planet include reducing food waste through a temperature monitoring offering developed by Axino Solutions, protecting endangered species from poachers through a Smart Parks system and transforming water management in Lyon, France, through a smart water solution developed by Birdz.

Facilitating the smart planet we all need

Drilling down into more detail, the WaterBit solution has enabled one agriculture business (Devine Organics) to achieve a 5% reduction in gas emissions, save 750,000 gallons of water and increase their crop yield from 800 to 1,500 pounds per acre. Devine Organics’ Farm Manager Jose Garcia said, “WaterBit’s soil probes tell us exactly where the crops need more or less water, all from the WaterBit dashboard app. It helps us monitor the soil and control the valves in the field so we can apply the right amount of water at the right time and place.”

Meanwhile, at Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, various asset tracking and geolocation solutions that are integrated with LPWAN/IoT systems – including environment sensors, equipment monitors, GPS trackers, alarms and intrusion detection systems – have managed to bring poaching in monitored locations down to zero. Tony Fitzjohn of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust said, “thanks to Smart Parks, we have learned a lot more about the behavior of individual rhinos. We now have much more advanced information in real time on a screen which gives these beleaguered animals a much better chance of survival from outside interference.”

Axino Solutions has used low-cost sensors to monitor remotely and non-invasively the temperature of perishable food, enabling grocers to improve the safety and security of fresh food in order to slash waste and minimize lost revenues. Axino Solutions CTO Ihab Hourani said: “LoRa devices were the perfect choice. They offer low energy consumption, built-in security functionality, low implementation and operating costs, suitability for battery-operated sensors, and reliable public and private network performance.”

Finally, Birdz has used LPWAN/IoT technology to enable Lyon to save around one million cubic meters of water every year by identifying 1,200 water leaks and boosting water network efficiency by 8%. Just imagine the impact such a system could have in the USA where leaking households waste close to 900 billion gallons of water per annum. The Birdz CEO Xavier Mathieu said, “Semtech’s LoRa devices are perfectly suited for smart water metering solutions due to their long range performance, low power consumption and low cost of implementing and operating a complete end-to-end metering application.”

In addition to the above, LPWAN-based technology is playing a key role in tackling the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. For example, it is used to manage the implementation of health care regulation and compliance in the workplace through proximity sensors and contact tracing. According to the World Economic Forum, 3.7 billion people around the world have no form of connectivity whatsoever, especially people in rural areas. To tackle this, affordable connectivity is being delivered to these remote locations by using LPWAN technology in two-way communications to and from satellites in low earth orbit (LEO).

It can be seen from all of these applications that LoRa has proven itself as the ideal bi-directional data transmission solution that enables IoT to play a key role in facilitating the smart environment that we all need. The technology not only combines security and scalability with reliability, but it also offers the ability to operate over long distances using minuscule amounts of power compared to other platforms.

Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN standard are examples of game-changing technology to push the environmental, social and governance (ESG) boundaries. To that end, Semtech recently appointed its first ESG officer who is tasked with overseeing and driving the reach of a range of sustainability initiatives and is just the beginning of ongoing initiatives to create a more sustainable planet.

Semtech, the Semtech logo and LoRa are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.

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