• Kieran Murphy

LPWAN For Property Management

Choose your building interoperability protocol with care

Property technology is a new field, and ZiggyTec is an early entrant. When fellow businessmen find out what I do for a living, they ask me hard questions: "What do I think about GRESB?" "How much solar PV capacity can I fit onto a Dublin rooftop?" "Why should I bother installing smart meters?"

Over the months to come, we'll be addressing those questions right here on the ZiggyTec blog. (And on the 'Smart Building Sourcebook', our linked set of Pinterest boards -- watch this space.) I'm going to begin with a classic: "Why are you guys so into LPWAN?"

As this is likely to be your first encounter with that unfriendly-looking acronym, I'd better explain that the 'smart building' concept is a loose one, and that players in this new field have trialled all kinds of solutions. It's obvious that you're going to need wireless communications if you want to call your building 'smart'... but what sort of wireless?

There are several contenders, among them WiFi, GPRS, Zigbee and LPWAN. All have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here's why we recommend the last to our clients in property management.

LPWAN doesn't use up client bandwidth

The WiFi bands are busy and expensive to access. If you choose WiFi to connect your building, you'll need to pay the phone company for all the data transmitted by your smart meters and other devices. But the narrow-band IoT implementation of LPWAN which we use for most ZiggyTec rollouts exploits low-traffic portions of the radio spectrum... making it cheap to run.

LPWAN doesn't waste power

The clue is in the name! LPWAN stands for Low Power Wide Area Networking. By keeping transmissions to the bare minimum, your LPWAN installation makes the best possible use of its onboard power. A ZiggyTec sensor will run for five years before it needs a battery change.

LPWAN scales well

LPWAN is designed to hit the sweet spot in buildings management: hundreds of nodes spread across multiple blocks. We get many times the range of ZigBee, but without the bandwidth limitations of GPRS. Everyone wins.

LPWAN is flexible

LPWAN offers a unique 'one-two' of technical capabilities.

To date, most of ZiggyTec's installations have been in urban areas where we can make use of an existing cellular signal. That's the narrowband IoT application of LPWAN.

But LPWAN also has an out-of-town aspect called LoRa, or long-range. LoRa allows us to provide clients who don't receive a cellular signal with the same connectivity options they'd enjoy in town.

Of course, they'll need to install their own LoRa gateways, which look and behave like wireless routers... but that's another story!

For more on IoT networking technologies, see ZiggyTec's Smart Building Sourcebook.

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