In recent weeks, Arantec has been busy expanding the LoRaWAN network in the Val d’Aran.
The deployment of LoRaWAN technology is one of the strategic projects of the Conselh Generau d’Aran to improve the connectivity of the valley and contribute to the digitization of activities such as livestock.
The project began in the spring of 2021 with the installation of two gateways. In this phase, 6 new units have been installed, which will allow us to expand the network, increasing the opportunities for developing technology-based projects.
Do you want to know what LoRaWAN is and what possibilities it opens up for the Val d’Aran and other mountain territories? Join us as we take a trip to a future that is just around the corner.
LoRaWAN technologies and networks, discovering a world of possibilities
The last few years have seen a real boom in relation to the internet of things or internet of things (IoT). That is, physical objects that connect to the Internet and receive or send data. How does this communication take place? Through protocols such as LoRaWAN.
LoRa and LoRaWAN, two related terms with different meanings
The best way to understand what LoRaWAN is is to first explain what LoRa is.
The term LoRa is an acronym for Long Range. It is a type of wireless technology (like wifi or Bluetooth) that was developed in 2009 by the French company Cycleo and acquired by the Californian company Semtech in 2012.
But LoRa has a limitation: it can only be connected point-to-point. That is, a LoRa device can only communicate with a similar device.
If the project we are working on is small, it may be sufficient. But, normally, what we are interested in is to connect the sensors or nodes deployed in the territory with a server or the cloud to be able to visualize them in tools such as Smartyplanet‘s web platform. And this step is achieved by means of the gateways .
These gateways are the devices that integrate the nodes with the server. They receive the radio frequency signal and transform it so that it can be sent through an IP and vice versa, following the LoRaWAN network protocol, which provides the network component, the ability to manage and authenticate the devices that make up the system and data encryption.
LoRaWAN deployment is currently managed by the LoRa Alliance organization, which is responsible for standardization and ensuring product interoperability.
- LoRa is the radio signal that carries the data, and
- LoRaWAN, the communication protocol used by LoRa that defines how communication is articulated within the network.
Main attributes of a LoRaWAN network
In terms of features, LoRaWAN technology stands out for:
- Range, being able to connect devices up to 20 km.
- Low power consumption, because devices only communicate when they have data to send. If it is established, for example, that data should be transmitted every 10 minutes, the node wakes up, sends the message and hibernates again. This mode of operation allows the batteries to last up to 10 years.
- Geolocation without additional energy consumption.
- It works under open source standards.
- End-to-end encrypted data transmission.
- Two-way communication.
- Low connection costs.
- Rapid deployment
- Limited number of packets of information that can be sent
A LoRaWAN network may therefore be suitable for a rural or urban environment where small data packets (temperature, coordinates, height of a sheet of water, etc.) need to be sent. It is not, however, suitable for streaming, sending photos or making phone calls, services that could be supported by a 5G network, for example.
What kind of projects will the LoRaWAN network allow to develop in the Val d’Aran?
A LoRaWAN network can be used for dozens of initiatives. In Semtech’s website you have several examples of how to use LoRaWAN technology.
In the case of the Val d’Aran, different options have been considered (tourism, emergencies, agriculture, etc.). However, for the purposes of this article, we will briefly focus on one application in particular: connected livestock farming, the usefulness of which was tested in a pilot experiment in 2021.
Smart animal husbandry or how cows can benefit from the internet
Livestock farming is an important and deep-rooted activity in the Val d’Aran, with abundant mountain pastures suitable for extensive livestock farming.
This use implies that the animals spend long hours grazing in the open air. And although livestock herds are usually guarded by shepherds, they are not exempt, for example, from predator attacks.
In this sense, the LoRaWAN network can be an important step forward in the digitalization of the sector, allowing:
- Localization of animals by means of collars that transmit their coordinates
- The establishment of virtual fences similar to those developed within the framework of the E-Barana project in the Aragonese Pyrenees.
- The correct management of pastures, being able to generate heat maps according to the location of the animals.
- Detection of sick, injured or pregnant cattle.
In Arantec we are committed to all initiatives that seek to enhance the value of the rural environment and facilitate the lives of its inhabitants and visitors.
And we have no doubt that LoRaWAN technology is going to be a turning point in making activities as demanding as herding easier.
– OSI Model
– Rodríguez Díaz, D. (2021). LoRaWan private network for the field of applications in Industry 4.0 (TFG in Industrial Electronics and Automation Engineering). Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech. Barcelona. http://hdl.handle.net/2117/359214
– Aqui Hay Apuntes (19/02/2019). LoRa (1). Introduction and concepts (Video file). Youtube. https://youtu.be/qs7Lz9g-mgg