HomeInternet of Things (IoT)Smart city alliance looks to establish open source LPWA interface and mesh network

Smart city alliance looks to establish open source LPWA interface and mesh network

A group of internet-of-things (IoT) companies has established an alliance with cities and utilities to develop an open source wireless interface and data format for low-power wide-area (LPWA) solutions in the smart city and smart energy markets. It also wants to 

The non-profit uCIFI Alliance wants to eliminate reliance on proprietary solutions in smart cities by establishing a standardised data model that can be used freely to unlock devices on low-power wide-area (LPWA) networks, including on LoRaWAN and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks. It will also seek to establish an open source wireless sub-GHz mesh network, providing long range and higher-bandwidth for machine communications with several devices at once.

Based in Oregon, in the US, the uCIFI Alliance comprises connectivity provider Kerlink, energy company EDMI, lighting company Schréder. They are joined by Engie and ST Engineering Electronics, and Belgia based utility Sibelga, New Zealand based Auckland Transport and France based Nantes Metropole.

Smart city and smart energy projects are being hobbled by a lack of technical interoperability, said the group. Project owners face a hurdle to integrate multiple proprietary systems and APIs, or else to overcome the limitations of single-source suppliers for network hardware or software layers.

“With LPWAN networks, each device supplier has its own data format, cloud and API. In addition, only proprietary solutions exist with sub-GHz long-range mesh networks. The founding companies of the uCIFI Alliance, and the cities and utilities that support it, share a common vision that these markets will be opened up if cities and utilities have the choice among competing but interoperable vendor products based on an open source code base,” it said in a statement.

The group wants to specify a unified data model and interface across multiple IoT networks, including LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, to provide device-to-device and device-to-cloud connectivity for cities and utilities, independently from any proprietary vendor. It will also standardise an open-source sub-GHz long-distance Wi-SUN-compliant mesh network, which will complement existing transport networks such as LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, and Bluetooth 5/Mesh to create a “rich toolkit” for smart city and smart energy solution providers.

The alliance has chartered the Newticity project under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. Runtime, a global IoT networking provider, is leading the implementation of this free and open source wireless reference stack.

Alliance partners will conduct field tests of the uCIFI unified data model and the uCIFI open-source mesh sub-GHz networking technology prior to September 2018 and release a first open source version to member companies by end of the year.

Kerlink founder and chief technology and information officer Yannick Delibie commented: “Cities and utilities often have to untangle a host of unnecessarily complicated technical details to deploy their smart networks, which delays launch and adds cost. The uCIFI Alliance is committed to promoting simple, cost-efficient, open source wireless networking references to unlock the full potential of these smart networks.”

Kerlink’s existing outdoor and indoor LoRaWAN gateways will be upgradable to support uCIFI open mesh networks, said Delibie.

EDMI chief executive How New Seng said: “With more bandwidth and an even more reliable network, we will provide more data and more services to our customers. Joining forces in the uCIFI Alliance makes it possible to develop the only open and interoperable sub-GHz mesh network, requested by many of our customers”.

Schréder chief innovation officer Nicolas Keutgen said: “With uCIFI, Schréder will provide the first truly open and interoperable smart streetlight solution, supporting both LoRaWAN and sub-GHz mesh with uCIFI-compliant interfaces, while existing solutions are proprietary and make cities depend on a single network or device supplier.”

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