COVID-19, fires, drought. These should have happened sooner or later anyway. Taking a thought? But it could have been even worse! I am sure that the world has already been transformed by a mirror. How? And how was it before, when there were other crises? High time for new technologies.
‘Trackers’ in medicine
I’ve recently watched the news on YouTube about a girl who gave birth in the restroom of a hospital. Well, the story is not pleasant. I don’t know the details, but the location determination inside of a building is already a reality. The presence of a ‘mobile’ (alarm) button in the woman’s pocket would certainly accelerate the timely arrival of medical staff. But it was not there! Because cases like this are rare. And how much money do you need to spend on such ‘buttons’? Sounds reasonable?
With COVID-19, everything is somehow different. This may have already been more than a few cases. You can’t be in two places at once and watch everyone. What if you install BLE-tags (Bluetooth Low Energy) in the wards, in the corridors, and even in the same lavatory, and give patients and doctors personalized ‘trackers’ that will transmit their location? The dispatcher will be able to monitor the situation on the screen and call medical personnel if there is an emergency. Accuracy determination is sufficient, and is able to identify if the patient is in his ward or wherever.
But BLE-tags have been used for many years. What’s new? Earlier, ‘trackers’ transmitted information over a GSM network using GPRS channels (or faster ones). The operating time of the ‘tracker’ was only a few hours. The battery charge worked as long as a mobile phone with working Internet. But in LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), thanks to LoRa’s patented digital wireless data transfer technology, the battery’s life is several years (depending on the frequency of data transfer). LoRaWAN uses unlicensed radio bands, which also allows it to be installed quickly.
The software has functionality similar to that in GPS monitoring systems. Notifications of going beyond the perimeter (geofence), of approaching restricted areas, of crowds in one room over a specified number. For medical facilities, staff monitoring can be added so that before visiting patients they wash their hands, use antiseptics (dispensers), and do not take drugs out of the hospital. From this we can conclude that not all 100% of the staff comply with the requirements of mandatory special hygiene, increasing the risk of infection.
In Madrid, Actility implemented a comprehensive COVID project. The control of the following parameters was organized: air (CO, CO2), temperature, humidity, and ‘alarm’ buttons were used. LoRaWAN sensors also monitored the storage temperature of medicines.
The sun, air, and water are our best friends!
Recently, Kyiv (Ukraine) was recognized as the most polluted city in the world. The reason was the forest fires in Polesie. I want to believe that this is a temporary phenomenon. But the fact that it was not just the forest that was burning, but the forest, which is in the exclusion zone, is a kind of a wakeup call. Villages and cemeteries near them burnt as well. According to data from the AirQuality resource, the level of “Ozone – O3” in some areas of Kyiv slightly exceeded the norm (0.11). But the air quality index – US AQI exceeded the norm by several times. Accordingly, breathing in such air we pollute the lungs, which can lead to pulmonary diseases, heart disease, and oncology.
But what does LoRaWAN have to do with it? In addition to high energy efficiency (low power consumption), this network is best suited for IoT-tasks (Internet of Things). The range of the transmitters reaches 15 km in direct line of sight and several kilometers in the city (depending on the intensity of housing). Its main advantage is that on its basis you can build a secure local area network like WiFi. By installing base stations in advance in cities and near critical facilities, you can quickly organize almost any type of control. Because wireless sensors do not have to be connected to power, and their battery life is several years. The sensor will inform in advance that the battery is low and needs to be replaced.
The main parameters that control the sensors:
1. Temperature, humidity, pressure and air pollution
2. Soil condition and moisture (temperature, pH, chemical precipitation), ‘smart’ irrigation
3. Weather monitoring, water quality (more than 50 parameters)
4. Water leakage (sewerage breakthrough), well-filling level
5. Street lighting, digital displays at stops
6. Garbage collection control, parking management
7. Bicycle and vehicle monitoring
In addition to local execution, LoRaWAN can work in roaming. Yes, it is in roaming, which is of two types:
1. Passive when the network uses network gateways of other operators without transferring control over the end device
2. Seamless when the home network transfers control of the end device
Global roaming is especially in demand for companies that conduct their business in different countries. A function such as tracking goods (containers) will allow logistics companies to monitor their timely arrival online. And using weather stations in various regions of the planet will allow us to study the natural phenomenon and timely predict cataclysms.
In the world, dozens of operators are already deploying IoT networks using LoRaWAN technology. In Ukraine, the first such operator was lifecell in partnership with IoT Ukraine. Base stations are installed in all regional centres.
The World without GPS. Geolocation
LoRaWAN determines the position of the ‘tracker’ (geolocation) by triangulation, using timestamps from the gateways, and measuring the signal propagation delay (TDoA). If the ‘tracker’ contains a GPS module, then the coordinates from it will be transmitted too. In addition to gateways, fixed end devices (BLE-tags) can also have predefined coordinates, which allows you to determine the exact location. For example, BLE-tags are installed in each room of the building. The ‘tracker’, while in the employee’s pocket, reads these tags and transmits the information about them to the dispatch console. In the event of an emergency (injury, fire, leakage of harmful substances), the employee presses the ‘alarm’ button, thereby calling the duty brigade.
But using ‘trackers’ with a GPS module is justified where the location using the method of triangulation and BLE-tags is not possible. And this is usually pasture. In addition to determining the location of the pet, ‘trackers’ can still monitor their health status. When assigning geofences, the farmer will be able to timely receive information about their intersection. And in case of injury of the animal, quickly help it.
In my opinion, ‘trackers’ with ultrasonic sensors could well prove themselves when determining the depth of tillage. Accordingly, information about the use of the work of the plow (or deep-ripper) would be transmitted immediately to the agronomist on the tablet. They do not need to connect to GPS trackers that are installed in tractors. Especially, this function would be in demand when renting the unit. In addition to depth, it would be possible to control the filling of the combine hopper with grain or liquid in the sprayer tank. To prevent spontaneous combustion of grain at elevators, it is possible to organize the monitoring of temperature and humidity parameters.
The economic effect is also obtained from IoT technology in the field of energy consumption control. In most countries, consumption indicators from metering devices from households and elements of basic infrastructure are transmitted remotely by equipping meters with IoT sensors. Automatic control of the use of electricity, gas, warm and cold water allows you to apply a ‘green’ tariff at a given time of the day.
Limitations in LoRaWAN
LoRaWAN also has disadvantages. This technology does not support applications that require a high transfer rate. However, this technology can control other wireless devices, for example, to remotely start transmitting data from cameras in power-saving mode. For devices (Class C) that are continuously in reception standby mode, the actuators operate online power. But for sensors that run on battery power (Class A), reception from the server is available only after the sensor sends data.
It’s high time for new technologies. Whether this will be LoRaWAN is not yet clear. But the fact that IoT technologies will begin to develop rapidly in the near future is already a fact. The resources of nature are running out. Clean air and water will become a more valuable resource for humanity. Control over their use tightens. And here you can’t do without sensors.