An interesting development in applying the Internet of Things to an urban scale:  A low-cost, low-power, low-bandwidth but wide-range network that is so cheap, volunteer groups are setting up city-wide test networks.  And even right here in my home city of Amsterdam!

Via the LoRa Alliance:

LoRaWAN™ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things in regional, national or global network. LoRaWAN target key requirements of internet of things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services. This standard will provide seamless interoperability among smart Things without the need of complex local installations and gives back the freedom to the user, developer, businesses enabling the roll out of Internet of Things.

Via The Verge:

The Things Network (TTN) …is a subscription-free, community-owned LoRaWAN network that now blankets Amsterdam, [allowing] any number of possible solutions enabled by the diverse and unimaginably vast array of wireless and battery-operated things coming to our cities.

A LoRaWAN gateway can speak to tiny, battery-powered LoRaWAN sensors and gizmos from more than 10 miles away (line of sight) or within a few miles if obstructed by the walls of a building. LoRaWAN devices can typically last years without needing new batteries depending upon how frequently they wake to communicate. Fixed sensors can realistically be powered forever with just small solar panel.

Imagine living in a neighborhood that notifies you when a parking spot is free, or a nearby charging station for your Chevy Bolt is no longer in use. Imagine garbage cans and dumpsters that alert sanitation crews when they’re nearing capacity, instead of just overflowing onto the sidewalks. Picture a place that sends an alert to your phone when the smoke or CO detectors inside your house sense trouble, or when a window is left open as it begins to rain. Cities so smart that they will help you locate your lost purse, keys, or umbrella even if you lose them while traveling abroad. That’s the future that TTN is hoping will come to Amsterdam and beyond without requiring 3G, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth in every device.

The city of Amsterdam was blanketed with LoRaWAN last August using only 10 gateways at a cost of $1,200 dollars each. In just six weeks the community-owned network was funded and implemented by volunteers without the help of a telecommunications company. It’s completely free to use by anyone in the city — no subscription or logins required. And costs are about to drop dramatically in July when TTN starts shipping its $200 LoRaWAN gateway to Kickstarter backers.