A fews weeks ahead of the LoRaWAN World Expo (Paris – July 6-7, 2022), IoT Business News had the opportunity to interview Donna Moore, CEO of the LoRa Alliance®. In this interview, Donna shares with us the latest developments and dynamics of the LoRaWAN technology in the Covid and post-Covid contexts, as well as the specific focus and ambitions of the soon-to-come LoRaWAN World Expo.
Last year, the LoRaWAN standard experienced its strongest year ever in terms of adoption, deployments, and expanded capabilities. How do you explain such dynamics in the context of global pandemic and chip shortages?
Donna Moore: It is widely recognized that the pandemic massively accelerated digital transformation. First, it increased the awareness and need for IoT, for applications ranging from assuring safety to automating processes to the importance of capturing real-time data to make decisions. Many industries faced questions about how to serve a greater number of people without sacrificing the level of service, all while facing labor and material shortages, as well as logistics and supply issues. This created fear and uncertainty, which all – in turn – significantly accelerated digital transformation in business, government entities (local, state/regional, and national), and the public sector.
LoRaWAN was the best solution to capture this acceleration because of the technology’s ability and readiness to enable IoT. LoRaWAN is an open standard, with the largest ecosystem, and already had millions of successful deployments globally. When the pandemic hit, overall demand increased, and so did the need for solutions “right now,” which further accelerated LoRaWAN’s scaling. Although supply chain and logistics issues remain, the LoRaWAN ecosystem had the ingenuity to solve challenges that Covid brought to light, while continuing to advance the technology in parallel.
Have new applications and use cases emerged for the LoRaWAN technology in relation to the COVID crisis and global health situation?
I would say yes and no. Many of the applications were not necessarily new, but the development time from the initial use case to the deployed product was significantly accelerated. LoRa Alliance members rapidly met the needs of new use cases based on the need for social distancing and safety. Some examples of use cases that emerged or were leveraged to address Covid-related challenges were:
Providing communications capabilities and repurposing LoRaWAN panic buttons for use as hospital call buttons in makeshift hospitals
Monitoring air and water quality
Finding ways to keep employees safe via monitoring and creating six-foot distancing solutions
Monitoring public restrooms to ensure they were always clean
Monitoring buildings for cleaning, room usage and contact tracing
It is important to remember that all these use cases had to be performed without any face-to-face interaction. Emerging requirements like these drove LoRaWAN’s growth in multiple vertical markets such as utilities, industry, smart buildings, and smart cities. It also became readily apparent that once a network is set up for an initial application, it is very easy and cost effective to add additional applications and expand into new markets.
The LoRaWAN World Expo will take place in Paris on July 6-7. This global event will include dedicated sessions on environmental sustainability. What were the drivers for this particular focus?
Our vision is to improve the quality of people’s lives and the environment. Sessions dedicated to environmental sustainability are a direct extension of that vision. But more than that, environmental sustainability has become a worldwide necessity, not just a goal, so it is a crucial need to collaborate as a global community to solve these issues.
LoRaWAN is ideally suited for environmental applications because it is low power and long-range, devices can be updated remotely with firmware updates over the air, and gateways and devices are designed to withstand the elements. This allows sensors to be deployed at great distances for long periods without worrying about battery life. In addition, LoRaWAN is the only LPWAN with a variety of network options. Solutions can be deployed on a public, private, satellite, community or hybrid network to empower many applications, even in remote areas.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Internet of Things Guidelines for Sustainability report1, 84% of IoT deployments currently address, or have the potential to address, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How does this potential translate into the LoRaWAN ecosystem? Has the Alliance seen significant growth in the number of environmentally and socially responsible projects? Can you give some examples?
LoRa Alliance’s vision to improve quality of life and protect the planet’s resources fully supports the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and its objectives to strive toward a peaceful and prosperous planet. As the de facto standard for low power wide area networking (LPWAN) connectivity for internet of things (IoT), the LoRaWAN standard is deployed in a wide variety of solutions that support these global goals. In fact, in 2020, the LoRa Alliance launched the “LoRaWAN for Good” initiative supporting the UN’s 17 SDGs. We asked members to submit their deployments, and they enthusiastically responded to show how they are addressing the planet’s needs. This campaign was the beginning of a multi-stage approach to supporting the UN’s SDGs, and we are now evolving this campaign to focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. We have dedicated a special focus at the LoRaWAN World Expo to this evolution by devoting an entire track to ESG topics.
I am happy to share a sample of deployments that exemplify the LoRa Alliance’s, and its members’, commitment to creating a smarter and safer planet.
For Water Conservation, LoRaWAN has been integrated into water management systems, smart homes, and buildings to monitor water usage, optimize use to avoid waste, and identify leaks before they become a problem.
For Sustainable Farming, farmers and ranchers use LoRaWAN to measure environmental conditions that influence crop production and livestock health. This increases efficiency, maximizing yield while minimizing expenses.
For Flood Monitoring, LoRaWAN is used to monitor rising sea levels, rivers, and streams. Collected data has been vital for alerting officials when there is a high flood risk.
For Wildlife Protection, LoRaWAN is used to track endangered species and protect them from poachers. Actionable data is analyzed to allow park rangers to follow wildlife movement and monitor park perimeters, ensuring wildlife safety.
The line-up of speakers announced at the Expo includes several representatives from EU commissions and regulatory authorities. Is this a sign that LoRaWAN is now visible and recognized by public authorities as a key technology in the telecom landscape, just like the cellular communication technologies are?
Yes, LoRaWAN’s role in the telecom landscape is growing and increasingly recognized by regulatory authorities, governments, and private businesses alike. The LoRa Alliance actively works with regulatory bodies around the world to educate and ensure access to the license-free spectrum. Our recognition last year by ITU-T as a global networking standard furthered our recognition as an important technology in this landscape. Another example of how our active work with regulatory bodies globally has increased LoRaWAN’s visibility and recognition with regulators is the recent authorizations in Israel and India, which allow for full commercial LoRaWAN deployments. In addition, RFPs and tenders from governmental bodies are increasingly specifying use of certified devices using the LoRaWAN standard, demonstrating LoRaWAN’s increased recognition and value as an industry standard.
How does this edition of the Expo stand with regard to previous shows organized by the Alliance? Is there a change in scale for this new edition to reflect the massive development of the LoRaWAN technology in recent years (in terms of adoption and deployments)? Can you give us some key numbers about this event?
The LoRa Alliance is driving and inspiring digital transformation because of our successful deployments, open and large ecosystem, and technical advantages. We are scaling because once a LoRaWAN network is up and running, additional use cases can easily be added without incurring additional costs. Because we are an open standard, unlimited numbers and types of solutions have been developed by hundreds of different companies, all of which drives scale. Additionally, massive IoT is ushering in an exciting era of opportunity to increase global sustainability, safety, and efficiencies for the planet and its people. Because of these factors, the LoRaWAN World Expo will be the largest global event the LoRa Alliance has ever hosted and its first multi-day event. The Expo evolved into such a large-scale event because of the market’s increasing demand for education, desire to network with the LoRaWAN ecosystem, and need for opportunities to explore new partnerships.
Over 90 speakers from around the globe will participate in over 60 sessions across four content tracks. The exhibition floor will have over 70 booths from members of the LoRaWAN ecosystem, and we will host live demonstrations of LoRaWAN in action. Without question, this is the only official LoRaWAN event and one you cannot afford to miss if you are looking to grow your IoT business. The Expo will be the one opportunity this year where you can learn how to develop, deploy, and partner with other members of the LoRaWAN community – this event is not to be missed!