Have you heard about Long Range Radio (LoRA) Wide Area Network (WAN) or simply LoRAWAN? It is based on Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). It is a specification that allows companies to create low power affordable devices that anyone can use to connect multiple devices. These devices are typically set to cover up to 2-5 kilometers (1.24 – 3.1 Miles) in dense urban areas and 15 kilometers (9 Miles) in suburban areas (source: RFWireless-World.com). It is a non-profit alliance of many big players like Cisco, IBM, SingTel, and many others.
Even as companies were creating the specification, building out the devices, Dutch Entrepreneur Wienke Giezeman inspired by a $1000 USD LoRAWAN device pitched an idea to Amsterdam council. The idea was to have anyone who could afford a device install it in their location that can be used as a gateway.
According to thenextweb.com, (one of the many companies in Amsterdam that hosts this $1000 USD device), several companies hosted the device and with approximately 7-10 devices hosted by various companies, Amsterdam was able to quickly enable the first social, crowd-sourced ecosystem to help creation of a The Things Network (TNN) – another word for connecting various devices. Now the city is open sourcing this entire network to allow its citizens to build apps and solutions that can accelerate the connection of the devices. For example, a device on the boat that develops a crack and leaks water can quickly communicate with the $1000 gateway to inform the shipping company and seek help (even if the boat owner isn’t aware of it), bikes and their locations can be traced and tracked, community lights when they stop working can inform the government to be replaced, and a lot more.
Well, what is disruptive about this idea? A whole lot. A Kickstarter campaign planned in early October is focused on sourcing funds to create devices that could enable creation of these $1000 devices at a $40/$60/$200 price points thereby making it affordable for every household. If every household, purchased and installed these devices (or) it will be a matter of time when AppleTV, GoogleTV, Gaming Consoles, CableBoxes will ship with those devices thereby enabling every home to connect potentially to a gateway, it will enable a ecosystem that will disrupt the way we live – our safety, emergency responses, city assets, convenience, parking, automation, and all of it could simply get overhauled. In fact, you could technically see a day wherein homes are contributing back to the city extra capacity from these devices for a fee and create a things economy. Not to mention what this would do to the network providers.
It is too early to get excited but we can only hope that the City of Amsterdam shows the way for rest of the world. This can truly be a technology creating Exponential Impact. What do you think?
Some additional resources to learn about things mentioned here:
- SpringWise talking about City of Amsterdam
- TheNextWeb.com – a participant in this initiative talking about it
- LoRA Alliance Websites for folks with geeky instincts
- The Things Network site that is planning a KickStarter campaign