Becoming ‘smart’ is a goal a lot of cities around the world want to achieve. Laying the infrastructure for a data network for the Internet of Things (IoT) can be one way of approaching this goal. Several Danish cities are in the process of doing this. The latest city to join is Aarhus. Benefitting from The Things Network, a worldwide IoT movement, Aarhus has successfully launched a community-owned IoT network for the city.
The aim of The Things Network is to spread and develop IoT and make it possible for all to connect ‘gizmos’ around the city to the internet – for free, and crowd-sourced by the community. “The idea is to create a community network that everyone in town can help to expand. The initiative comes from the Netherlands, where a group had built a data network that covered the whole of Amsterdam within four weeks. Among others, with the help of businesses and private individuals. That is what we are trying to start up in Aarhus as well”, says Kim Søvsø, who is jointly responsible for The Things Network Aarhus, which has just held their first network meeting.
The technology used is based on the standard LoRaWAN, which makes it possible to, for example, connect sensors to the internet without using 3G or Wi-Fi. At the same time, the batteries are very efficient – devices last for several years – and it has a range of up to 15 km, depending on whether it’s an urban or a rural zone.
Through a network of this kind, it is possible to connect items to the web and gather information about their environment. This could be, for example, sensors in a parking lot, which tell you whether there is a free parking space available before you travel there. You could also put a sensor on your bike, which sends a message to your smartphone when it moves. So you could receive a notification if it moves when you’re not nearby – suggesting that it may have been stolen.
“It is important to get people to understand that the Internet of Things is not an unmanageable endeavour”, explains Lasse Steenbock Vestergaard, Smart Urban Designer affiliated with OrganiCity. “Anyone can make a sensor that can become part of this network. From the point at which you do not know anything until you have created a sensor providing data, maybe a week goes by. There are good tutorials on the Internet and the technology is cheap, so we are facing a quite central place, where IoT can become common property and a part of the citizen’s toolkit.”
At the next The Things Network Aarhus event, we will hear more about IoT and LoRaWAN and will build some transmitters together. Look out for our next blog to learn more about what we discussed.