Low power wide area (LPWA) networks are a reliable and useful connection option for municipalities and companies interested in leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) without breaking the bank. LPWANs are the least expensive network options available, and they work best for simple monitoring over a wide geographic range. Flexible and customizable, LPWA networks can be adapted easily to serve a variety of purposes ranging from security, traffic monitoring, and supply chain management, just to name a few.
IoT for All notes that the range of a typical LPWA network often is more than 2 kilometers in urban settings, meaning that the network can be managed remotely and cover a vast amount of territory. Best of all, there is no real limit to the number of sensors you can add to an LPWA network. This means it is possible to monitor multiple locations within range. Bolstering to the network’s flexibility, batteries for LPWA networks typically last a few years, making the technology perfect for monitoring areas that are difficult to navigate or reach with regularity.
The Network that Never Sleeps: Monitoring Capacity and LPWA Networks
As with all IoT networks, LPWA networks are specialized in application. While they are not a one-solution-fits-all network, they perform remarkably well when monitoring binary states. Put in simpler terms, any task that can be asked as a yes/no question is ideally suited for a LPWA network. Need to know if a door across town is open or closed? An LPWA network can give you a definitive answer. Need to gauge whether water has passed the banks of a local bayou? The examples are endless. An LPWA network can check whether alarms are functioning, whether a power supply is stable, whether gates are locked, and can even tell you when a motion sensor has been activated.
To gather more complex information, users can string together a greater number of checkpoints along the network. Because the batteries for LPWA network connection points last so long, it also is possible to collect years of uninterrupted data. Although LPWA network information relays may not be as fast as cellular or Wi-Fi, reports along the network still are regular enough to give a real-time resume of anything being monitored.
Practical Benefits of a LPWA Network
Outside of its remarkably flexible operational capacity, LPWA networks offer a variety of additional benefits that make them an attractive option for those looking to join the Internet of Things. Their ruggedness and ability to work in all conditions make LPWA networks the ultimate no-nonsense, no-hassle connectivity solution. Because they are slower and require less power than other networks, LPWA networks are inexpensive to set up, maintain, and monitor. And they work with almost any existing sensor technology so long as an adaptor can be attached.
Linked items can transmit back to a relatively simple computer setup as well. Some LPWA networks even control and collect information across a Raspberry Pi setup. Furthermore, LPWA networks can transmit signals even in dense urban settings. Whereas gaps in coverage can present a problem for cellular networks, data rarely is lost over low power wide area networks, making them the perfect fit for critical long-term monitoring.
Finding the Right Fit: The Limitations of LPWA Networks
Like most technologies, low power wide area networks have their limits. Although they are perfect for yes/no investigations, more complex inquiry is impossible along such a simple network. IoT for All writes that LPWA networks are almost always limited to “less than 1,000 bytes of data per day or less than 5,000 bits per second.” However, it is possible to establish multiple LPWA networks in a single area to cover separate functions, and careful planning allows network managers to still get the most out of their LPWA networks.
Endless Opportunities: LPWA Network Applications
Utilities, infrastructure, and transportation are all ideal for LPWA monitoring. For instance, parking lots across universities and malls can be wired with sensors that alert drivers whenever a new space is empty. School districts wanting to track security system activity across each institution in their network may leverage LPWA networks, too. Even city governments looking to reduce their overall electricity bill could track energy use from building to building. And residential energy can be monitored using an LPWA network in much the same fashion. To ensure continuity of service, utility companies easily can link their meters to an LPWA network and ping each meter along the network to check for outages.
Agricultural applications for these types of networks are abundant too. Farmers easily can link enclosures to the network using simple motion sensors to tell how many times animals are leaving or entering their enclosures in a day. Water or food levels can be monitored as well, and even irrigation systems can be linked to a LPWA network to ensure the system stays operational.
Applications for LPWA networks are ever expanding, and as long as network managers are imaginative in the ways they track information, these networks will continue to meet the information needs of thousands of communities and corporations across the nation.
Aeris: Creating Customized Network Solutions for YouIf your organization is looking for a full-service network management team to set up and help you maintain an LPWA network, Aeris has solutions for you. We will work closely with your engineers and IT experts to plan and establish a network that dynamically manages your IoT monitoring tasks and integrates seamlessly with your preferred analysis software. Aeris is committed to the creative application of LPWA networks and can recommend appropriate technologies to link to your new network. To start creating your unique LPWA network, Aeris today.