There’s some great products being showcased at CES this year but I was especially drawn to those co-locating on the LoRa Alliance stand.  From home health devices, through to wide-ranging smart utilities and new clever-city lighting there seemed to be a lot more low-powered wide area network (LP WAN) focus than ever.

I’ll be honest, four months ago I didn’t really understand LP WAN, and against many technical people I still know very little... but after several months' researching the topic I think I just about understand why people are talking about it.

In my simple view of the world, LP WAN offers the simplest way for businesses and cities to finally start adopting the much-hyped Internet of Things.  Simply speaking, with LP WAN you can deploy hundreds, if not thousands, of sensors and connect them for very little cost.  And because of their low powered nature, you can implement sensors and not have to worry about them for years – they need no maintenance and rarely need replacing. 

However, in many conversations I’ve had with ‘traditional’ businesses and public bodies it’s not the cost that is the real barrier.  It’s the time, effort and perceived disruption to the usual way of doing things that means the Internet of Things is bypassed or actively ignored. 

I believe LP WAN might have the answer here too.  From some of the initial projects we’ve started scoping for the North East network, the majority fit into the category of ‘let’s deploy some sensors and see what it says about our way of working’.  In this approach little time or effort has to be expelled nor does the usual way of working have to be changed.

And the result,? Well we don’t know yet, but given the above facts it cannot make things slower, less intelligent or reduce productivity.  At worst slight improvements will occur and at best, ‘traditional’ industries and cities will see a step change in their way of working.

I’m looking forward to the early stages of this calendar year to see if the internet of things really can come to useful fruition – if you want to know more about getting involved in the North East LPWAN test bed drop me a line.