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People Counting

LoRaWAN

A long range communication protocol used, for example, for remote counting applications over the Internet-of-Things.

Long Range

LoRaWAN stands for Long Range Wide Area Network. It is designed to wirelessly connect battery operated "things" to the internet. The stated range is 16 km in a clear line of sight and 5 km in built-up environments. The world distance record, though is 832 km. This was made with a high altitude helium balloon attached to a LoRaWAN sensor.

Long Battery Life

The system uses very little energy when communicating with sensors. Batteries can last for 10 to 15 years.

Bi-Directional

In default mode (class A), communication is initiated by the end device (such as the counter). The device can communicate at any time. It then leaves a window to receive instructions. This is the lowest power consumption mode. In other modes the network server can initiate communications. Modes can be switched to save power.

Open Standard

LoRaWAN is an global open protocol for wireless communication of real-time data. The standard was invented and is maintained by the LoRa Alliance, an non-profit association of collaborating members.

Penetrates Barriers

Lorawan can be used underground and will penetrate concrete.

Many Devices from a Single Gateway

It is easy to scale and expand networks. LoRaWAN devices broadcast their messages to a gateway. An 8-channel gateway can handle a few hundred thousand messages a day. So if each device sends a message every 5 minutes, one gateway would support around 350 devices. If each device sent just ten messages a day, their number would go up to around 10 000 devices per gateway. With more gateways, more sensors and devices can be connected. The gateways will accept messages from all sensors within reach.

The gateways forward data to the LoRaWAN network server. These connections can be by Wi-Fi, Ethernet or cellular. In Issue 267 we discussed MQTT. This communication protocol can be used between the gateway and the network server (broker).

The network server or broker makes data available to the user applications, such as pollution monitoring or car counting apps.

LoRaWAN architecture
LoRaWAN architecture, modified from original image by Brivadeneira, CC by 4.0.

Security

Systems are deployed on public or private networks. LoRaWAN uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and 128-bit cryptographic keys and algorithms.

Vehicle and People Counting

LoRaWAN is ideal for remote counting due to its low power consumption and long distance communication. For example, we are using it to count illegally parked cars in national parks, providing park authorities with information about numbers of cars every few minutes. It is also a commonly used communication method in smart cities.

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