Community Internet of Things (IoT) Network

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Council’s Community IoT Network allows everyone to get involved in IoT from innovators, entrepreneurs and hobbyists to businesses, community groups and schools.  

The free to use, public network is now one of the largest IoT networks of its kind in NSW and spans right across Lake Macquarie.  

The local network provides many opportunities for the community and businesses to connect devices to measure things like environment and weather patterns, collect customer traffic data and track a piece of equipment or product via GPS.  The possibilities are endless and people can also build their own devices if they are not able to get a device off the shelf that does what they want.  

The Community IoT Network runs on the global The Things Network (TTN) which uses LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology and has been deployed around many parts of Australia. This means devices that work on the network in Lake Macquarie will also work in Sydney, Perth, the Sunshine Coast and anywhere there is TTN coverage.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of devices in the physical world to the virtual world (and/or each other) via the internet.  This includes mobile phones, smart watches, smart lights, smart fridges, weather sensors, electricity meters, vehicles and almost anything you can think of. 

It is estimated that there could be more than 64 billion connected devices by 2025.  These devices connect to the internet using a number of technologies including wi-fi, mobile (4G/5G), Bluetooth and low powered wide area networks (LPWANs).

What is Council’s Community IoT Network, The Things Network (TTN)?

Council’s community IoT network supports everyone to get involved in IoT from innovators, entrepreneurs and hobbyists to small businesses, community groups and students. 

The network gives the public free access to The Things Network (TTN), a low powered wide area network (LPWAN) which runs on LoRaWAN, a low power IoT protocol, and utilises long range LoRa radio technology. 

You can buy and/or build your own TTN compatible devices/sensors/nodes to utilise the Community IoT Network.  These devices/sensors/nodes could be used to control, track or sense some aspect of your business, home or environment.  For example, water metering, soil moisture monitoring, local weather measurement, asset monitoring/tracking etc.

TTN is supported by a global community of enthusiasts who share their knowledge and lessons learnt. 

 

 Get in touch with the local TTN community

 Find out more about LoRaWAN

 Find out more about The Things Network

How does the Community IoT Network work?

Compatible devices/sensors/nodes send data over the free, unlicensed LoRaWAN radio frequency band to a gateway which then sends the data over the mobile network (4G) to The Things Network servers in the cloud.  End to end data encryption is used to secure and protect the privacy of data transmitted over the network.

Council is providing the network to send data across.  We are not providing the devices/sensors/nodes or the end data points for storage/use/visualisation of data from devices/sensors/nodes.

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I’m interested in utilising the Community IoT Network, where do I start?

Council is running workshops as part of the Hunter Innovation Festival 3-16 May 2021.

 Register now

We have an enthusiastic local The Things Network community who you can get in touch with via https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/community/newcastle-lakemac/

Meshed have a guide on how to connect devices/sensors/nodes to The Things Network in Australia https://meshed.com.au/how-to-connect/

Get inspired by use cases provided by the international The Things Network community https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/labs/

Where is there Community IoT Network Coverage?

 See map of current gateways and their tested coverage areas

Coverage is not only provided by gateways Council has installed, it is also provided by other Councils, State Government, businesses and individuals who have installed gateways on The Things Network.  This means there is coverage across many places in Australia.

Will Devices/Sensors/Nodes work elsewhere from the Lake Macquarie City Council Community IoT Network?

Yes, they will.  The Community IoT Network utilises The Things Network, which has been deployed not only around many places in Australia, but also globally.  This means you can use your device/sensor/node in Sydney, Perth, the Sunshine Coast to name a few.

 See map of current gateways and their tested coverage areas

Note: Different radio frequencies are used in different regions of the world so not all devices work everywhere globally or may require modification to work.  This is also true in some parts of Australia as two radio frequencies are used in the country (AU915 and AS923) and not all gateways provide coverage for both frequencies.

Will Council be able to see the data I send over the Community IoT Network?

No, your data is private, Council is unable to access it. The Things Network uses end to end encryption to transmit data over the network.

 More information on network security

Do I have to buy devices/sensors/nodes to use the Community IoT Network?

Compatible The Things Network devices/sensors/nodes can either be bought off the shelf or made/built.

How do I find compatible off the shelf devices/sensors/nodes to use on the Community IoT Network?

You can try searching LoRaWAN sensor or LoRa sensor (make sure that the sensor is able to be provided on the Australian available frequencies AU915 or AS923)

 Search The Things Network marketplace

 Ask the local Things Network Community for advice

What are some example uses of the Community IoT Network?

  • Measuring the weather
  • Counting how many people walk past a business or use a space
  • Measuring the water level in a water tank
  • Detecting when a door, window or gate is open
  • GPS tracking a piece of equipment, a vehicle or even an animal

 Find more use cases

How is Council using the Community IoT Network?

Examples of how Council currently utilises the Network include measuring weather and air quality, tracking lifeguard rescue boards to detect rescues and measuring amenities usage.  Council continues to open up data collected on the Network via Council’s interactive Open Data Portal.

What opportunities does the Community IoT Network provide to local businesses?

Local business are able to use the Network to get experience with IoT without making a large investment or long term commitment.

The growing IoT market presents a huge opportunity for the Lake Macquarie economy.  Major industries set to benefit from and uptake IoT are construction, mining, manufacturing, healthcare and agriculture.  As we move away from traditional delivery of these industries there is opportunity to pivot existing businesses and expertise in Lake Macquarie and put it toward delivery of IoT in these industries, in particular around the invention, testing, manufacture and maintenance of IoT hardware.

Is the Community IoT Network a commercial grade network?

No it is not. The free, publicly accessible version of The Things Network (TTN) is not considered a commercial grade network. A commercial grade private version of TTN is available through The Things Industries and there are companies in Australia who can help you with deployment.

Alternatively you can also explore using the commercial grade LoRAWAN network provided by NNNCo which is available in Lake Macquarie.