The Future of Smart Buildings Leveraging LoRa®

Once started from stones and woods, technology has evolved from time to time to improve the modern lifestyle. Especially within the last decade or two, wireless technologies have given a whole new meaning to buildings and infrastructure. This article outlines what a “Smart Building” is, why it is needed, and how LoRa is the new technology to help the smart building to become a reality.

 

What is a Smart Building?

Once buildings were built for the primary function to facilitate accommodation for the people and offer comfort against the outside environment. Already evolved from stones & bricks to glass & metal, these buildings still have untapped potential. With the power of the Internet & connectivity, a smart building can offer much more convenience, safety, and control via the collection of data.

How hard is it to manage a house? Managing a building or a corporate park is far more difficult. Smart buildings aspire to manage a handful of moving parts effortlessly. These dynamic infrastructures can leverage wireless technology & sensors to manage various services of the building, including lighting, humidity, air quality, accidental fire, air conditioning, energy management, and security. Smart buildings are already here, and these buildings offer great value.

 

What are the technological needs to create a Smart Building?

There’s a good reason why so far, the concept of Smart Building was not demanded even though we spent 90% of our lifetime in buildings. The reason lies in the difficulty of such massive transformation, construction, and associated challenges. A Smart Buildings is beyond just the comfort and ease of access. A Smart building is environmentally friendly, makes the most of sustainable energy, and is performance oriented. As such, so far, technological limitations have made Smart Building construction seem like a science-fiction concept.

However, the introduction of LoRa technology has changed this concept to reality. LoRaWAN® technology is the perfect fit when it comes to the construction of a Smart Building. This is due to the characteristics of LoRa technology, such as extended range, strong penetration through surfaces, and reduce energy consumption. These qualities of LoRa technology are very crucial for IoT-based Smart Buildings. On top of that, now we have a set of sensors that can accurately allow implementations of LoRaWAN®-connected buildings. All the hardware capabilities with IoT connectivity and a software user interface can transform any infrastructure into a smart building.

 

How do Smart Buildings work?

The construction of a Smart Building or transforming an existing building into a smart one is quite like traditional IoT implementations. In the case of buildings or any similar architectures, there are a few different core portions that must be transformed with relevant sensors/nodes and should relate to the Internet using a network. Temperature, energy, lighting, humidity, fire alarms, and air quality are a few of those crucial parts of Smart Building architecture where sensors and network connectivity are needed.

LoRaWAN®-based Smart Building can consist of indoor and outdoor LoRaWAN® gateways that can offer internet connectivity throughout the architecture. The communication flow here is quite like other IoT systems where sensors or end-point devices would have bidirectional connectivity with LoRaWAN® gateways.  Then, these gateways would concentrate all the data from nodes and share it with the network server. Here, LoRaWAN®-based smart buildings can use a private LoRaWAN® network instead of a public one as private networks can perfectly serve a particular Smart Building’s purpose.

Therefore, at the end of the whole communication flow, a user with an end application or user interface can access the sensor’s information and control devices from anywhere at any time. Just with the help of the Internet. Other than that, these systems also need to verify the environmental conditions to choose suitable gateways with proper IP ratings. A right LoRaWAN® gateway, an accurate sensor, and reliable connectivity are all needed to make a perfect intelligent building ecosystem.

 

How to turn an existing building into a smart one?

As per the working of the whole Smart Building ecosystem, the transformation of an existing building should begin with defining the required services to control or monitor. Once there is enough clarity about the requirements of a Smart Building, one can start installing relevant end-nodes and sensors as the first phase of transformation. Such relevant sensors may include a temperature sensor, energy meter, smoke detector, light sensor, parking sensors, etc. There’s no protocol to which sensors one must install in their Smart Building, and therefore it is up to the individual needs of the building.

These sensors would also need enough gateways to ensure that no information gets lost on the building. Therefore, enough indoor, and outdoor gateways are installed in a manner that their combined range covers a whole building. Once these nodes and getaways are in place, the user also needs to set up a network server infrastructure where all such data can be collected. Moreover, this cloud server should also be accessible with an easy platform through a web user interface or a mobile application.

 

What are the various applications & benefits of a Smart Building?

Applications of a Smart Building can be based on the implemented system components. However, there are few common use cases of Smart Buildings where an average Smart Building system may use the following sensors for different applications and benefits:

To remotely monitor temperature throughout the building and ensuring that the right environmental conditions are preserved as needed. For example, a smart building can ensure that the server room is kept at the right temperature to protect IT infrastructure. IoT temperature sensors can detect any overheating and alert authorities or control ventilation and air conditioning system to reduce any failures.

Smoke detection is a common and popular application for Smart Buildings as it can be the key to quick emergency alerts in case of any accidental fire. The benefit of having such a service system can be as significant as saving lives in any industrial building or refinery.

Sensing air quality is finally viable with the improvements in air quality sensors. It is now evident that monitoring air quality can be help avoid any critical health shortcomings in the long run. Such an application can yield advantages for places where chemical reactions and hazardous gases take place.

From monitoring water flow or usage to electrical energy consumptions, Smart Buildings must evolve current infrastructure to create a sustainable future. A variety of metering devices can play a role in Industry 4.0 infrastructures. Proper metering and data logging is the first step towards examining and transforming into a healthier architecture.

On top of these, there are light sensors, geolocation sensors, and smarter energy outlets available. These nodes can make a Smart Building as efficient as    IoT infrastructures with service benefits such as monitoring, security, remote access, failure detections, data analytics, and all over a productive environment to grow.

 

If you are interested in experiencing a Smart Building by implementing a LoRaWAN®-based system, reach out to us. We can help you to know more information and guide you through the entire transformational process.