The University of Tartu and Nordic Automation Systems (NAS), developer and manufacturer of LoRaWAN systems, launched the first public free-to-use LoRaWAN gateway, thereby offering the companies in this area an excellent opportunity to test their products and later bring them to the market.
What is LoRaWAN? LoRaWAN™ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things in a regional, national or global network. LoRaWAN targets key requirements of Internet of Things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services. The LoRaWAN specification provides seamless interoperability among smart Things without the need of complex local installations and gives back the freedom to the user, developer, businesses enabling the roll out of Internet of Things.
LoRaWAN network architecture is typically laid out in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways is a transparent bridge relaying messages between end-devices and a central network server in the backend. Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections while end-devices use single-hop wireless communication to one or many gateways. All end-point communication is generally bi-directional, but also supports operation such as multicast enabling software upgrade over the air or other mass distribution messages to reduce the on air communication time.
LoRaWAN networks have gained considerable interest worldwide, as they allow using sensors with 10-year battery life, which may be located up to 15 km away from the gateway, even under the ground and in other hard-to-access places. This means that the advantage of the LoRaWAN technology over mobile technologies consists in its ability to support more devices than the latter in a larger coverage area. The gateway collects real-time data and transmits them to the LoRaWAN network, where the user can analyse the collected data. This technology can be used in hundreds of industries, including manufacturing, science, healthcare, agriculture and public utility service sectors – for example, for water, electricity, gas and heating metering.
According to Professor Alvo Aabloo of the Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu, the LoRaWAN gateway launched in cooperation with NAS is a good opportunity for the effective development of practical learning. “The University of Tartu’s computer engineering programme is designed to train engineers and leading specialists for the Estonian information and communication sector. Thanks to the gateway, students can use new practical possibilities for studies and for writing their theses,” Aabloo pointed out the advantages the gateway offers to students. The CEO of NAS Viljo Veesaar also believes that the essential purpose of building the public LoRaWAN gateway is to give students and researchers more opportunities to experiment with the LoRaWAN infrastructure. “The University of Tartu is the leading centre of research and training in Estonia, and therefore an ideal community to develop cutting-edge Internet of Things solutions in Estonia,” he added.
Aabloo added that besides the development of teaching, the gateway also holds a practical output. “The Intelligent Materials and Systems Laboratory of the Institute of Technology cooperates with many Estonian and European companies in the field of Internet of Things and portable electronics. LoRaWAN is one of the leading technologies in the world, which allows the development of low-energy Internet of Things solutions. Therefore, the area developers now have an opportunity to test their prototypes and later bring them to the market. So our gateway will serve as a prototyping laboratory for the enterprises of South Estonia,” said Aabloo.