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Connecting smart buildings and smart homes in the IoT era

Market awareness and adoption of smart homes and buildings continues to rise yearly, with 2019 set to be another busy year for the trend. From smart kitchen appliances and smoke detectors to voice assistant-enabled lighting and irrigation systems, builders and homeowners are using IoT to connect everyday devices to the cloud to create new experiences for buyers at a rapid pace. In fact, Business Insider forecasted that in the United States alone, more than 1 billion smart home devices will be deployed by 2023.

The key driver to making this technology work is connectivity that is long range and interoperable with a variety of different applications and implementations.

While short-range connectivity options already enable many connected smart home and smart building devices, more manufacturers are turning to IoT technologies that offer both indoor and outdoor connectivity in one. LoRa-enabled devices deliver exactly that.

The secret is that LoRa technology has the ability to maneuver dense building materials and therefore can reach devices deployed underground — all wirelessly. This offers an advantage compared to other technologies challenged by those conditions, not to mention the high costs and design flaws with running wired networks. Devices connected to a LoRaWAN-based network, the open, low-power wide area networking protocol based on LoRa, can be deployed either privately or by connecting to a public LoRaWAN-based network thanks to the freedom afforded by unlicensed spectrum.

Let’s explore some examples.

Connecting smoke and heat detectors to IoT

The United States Fire Administration estimated that nearly $14.3 billion in property damage was lost to fires in the U.S. in 2015. The majority are smaller commercial fires that usually run high risks for not only property damage, but also human injury. Fires have the capacity to spread out of control within only a few minutes, making early detection a pivotal way to limit potential tragedy.

LoRa-enabled sensors in homes and buildings collect data throughout the day, such as levels of heat, smoke or gas, in a given room. Data from each sensor is periodically sent to a LoRa-based gateway that connects the device to the network, similar to a router. Each gateway can handle the messages of several devices at once. Once a message is sent to the gateway, it is forwarded on to a network server where in can be analyzed. From here, an automatic response can be triggered depending on the conditions in the building. The response is sent to emergency personnel and the property manager via mobile device or computer, allowing them time to respond effectively.

Managing water to wash away high bills

Water is one of the more expensive items on the utility bill, costing Americans on average $15 to $77 per month. From the dishwasher and washing machine to toilets and the shower, water use is unavoidable.

With LoRa technology, it’s easy and affordable to manage home water usage and guard against potential water or moisture damage in the process. Similarly, LoRa-enabled sensors can measure water use and send this data off for analysis. If a problem is detected, applications can automatically shut off the water supply and alert the homeowners. Additionally, the LoRa-based system can send periodic updates to inform the users of their consumption trends. This allows the homeowners, landlords and business owners to see their problem consumption areas and develop and execute a plan for smarter, more efficient water use.

Getting started today

Ensuring the correct wireless system is used is the only way to build or retrofit a dwelling to meet today’s IoT era. As an easy and proven alternative to current wireless communication networks, LoRaWAN-based networks deliver higher penetration in dense urban areas and a longer distance in non-urban areas. Added to the competitive operational cost and extended lifetime of the sensor batteries, this technology reduces energy consumption and contributes to a lower maintenance cost.

The drivers are the same for all LoRa-based initiatives. Easy installation is teamed with the affordable operation of advanced technology. But perhaps the most important driver is LoRa technology’s capability to deliver more functionality and efficiency for builders around the world.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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