HomeBuildingsThree times LPWA networks work best for backhauling short-range IoT sensor systems

Three times LPWA networks work best for backhauling short-range IoT sensor systems

Sometimes IoT technologies work better in concert. The standard model for IoT networks to combine two or more different connectivity technologies is when short-range wireless protocols are used in the sensors themselves.

Often, these short-range sensors utilise IEEE 802.15.4 based protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Zigbee, which provide highly granular positioning data, whether alone or in combination with other monitoring metrics, in star and mesh topologies, and with beaconing and tags. The data gathered in these short-range setups provides more accurate detail about connected assets in highly localised deployments.

But the data is locked into the venue, unless another technology is used to break it out – into compute systems in servers in central offices or in the cloud, where data-related decisions can be made and action taken. In some instances, a wired connection in the vicinity of the sensor network enables this break-out; in other scenarios, a wired connection is either unavailable, or unviable for various reasons.

Here, we consider those scenarios and those reasons, helped by IoT networking company Digi International, which has participated in a new editorial report from Enterprise IoT Insights on hybrid IoT systems, due out next week. Watch this space.

Remote systems

Sometimes wired backhaul is impractical, notes Scott Wilken, vice president of technology at Digi International. In these cases, localised short-range sensor networking has to be carried over a long-range wireless network, to either a premise-based or cloud-based servers for data processing. “Short-range connectivity to each local device [needs to be] combined with one or more wide-area gateways to backhaul the data, for example,” explains Wilken.

Leased systems

Often, the solution provider wants control of the end-to-end system, to bundle it as-a-service and keep it separate of the customers’ own networking infrastructure. In these cases, they may prefer to deploy cellular gateways for the backhaul. Wilken describes the setup: “Short-range wireless goes to the local system of sensors, controllers, or other equipment, and the long-range system provides the backhaul without ever touching the end-customer’s own network.”

Existing systems

A third scenario is where decent wide-area infrastructure is already in place, making the new sensor deployment a local affair, without need for additional backhaul linkage. It is a simpler case, all round, requiring just the design and installation of the local sensor system, plus integration with existing wide-area units. Connected street lighting is a good example, suggests Wilken. “It is easy to connect a single neighbourhood gateway to a cellular carrier’s wide area network and then connect short-range via Zigbee to all of the street lighting in the area,” he says.

Look out for the new editorial report from Enterprise IoT Insights on hybrid short-and long-range IoT systems, out next week.

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