Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
INTERVIEW Byron BeMiller and Ken Sinclair
Byron BeMiller, Vertical Lead, Smart Buildings, Semtech
Byron BeMiller is Vertical Marketing Director for Smart Buildings at Semtech and the head of the LoRa Alliance® Smart Building Working Group. He is the former VP of Sales at TrackNet, an IoT solutions provider that was acquired by Semtech. He holds a BSEE from the University of Illinois and an MS in Management from Georgia Tech.
We’re seeing a lot of interest into 5G technology and how it will be
the next wave in the era of connectivity. How will that affect LoRa and
what sets LoRa apart from 5G connectivity?
Next generation networks are going to reshape the way we think about
connectivity but 5G isn’t the answer to everything. 5G is great for
critical services but for many IoT solutions deployed in cities, homes
and buildings, the power and bandwidth required to support 5G networks
does not make it an ideal choice. LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol
provides a low power, long range alternative to 5G that is widely
adopted by the IoT industry. Over 500,000 LoRa-based gateways are
deployed in over 140 countries. We’re expecting over 130 million
LoRa-based end nodes to be deployed by January 2020. LoRa isn’t just an
alternative, it is the platform of choice for many IoT applications
Sinclair: What are your predictions for the smart building landscape? What services are receiving the most attention?
We’re seeing a lot of interesting developments in the smart utility
space, specifically around leak detection. Sensors are frequently being
deployed in areas near pipes and areas prone to water leakage such as
bathrooms and kitchens. These battery-powered sensors can last up to 20
years and are programmed to sense humidity and temperature
fluctuations. At the onset of a leak, data is quickly routed to a
LoRa-based gateway, where it is then sent to application servers or
Cloud services to be processed and relayed to the end user, preventing
costly water damage to buildings.
Another area we’re seeing a lot of movement in is smart offices. Our partners have been particularly interested in IoT solutions to address evolving trends in the workplace around topics such as intelligent offices, shared spaces and remote work agreements. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from customers who recently made the shift to smart office deployments. For example, after a brief trial period Capgemini was able to increase desk and room occupancy to more than 75% and are now on track to deploy over 85,000 smart office sensors across its 25 locations worldwide. This push comes at a time where the cost of office work spaces have grown significantly and we’re seeing a market demand for solutions to help cut costs. For instance, the average cost annually per a work station in Silicon Valley is a staggering $15,000 according to Cushman & Wakefield and to address this, office managers are moving toward shared spaces and using IoT solutions to improve desk and room occupancy rate.
Heading into 2020, we’re expecting significant growth in these two areas as IoT technology becomes more accessible. Office managers will be looking for new ways to manage their spaces and LoRa-based deployments are well positioned to shake up the industry with intelligent solutions.
Sinclair: You’ve shared a few articles with us before and a common theme seems to be the importance of connected solutions to help building managers make cost-saving decisions. What are your tips for a building manager looking to deploy their first smart-solution network?
space is different and needs can differ across companies. Identifying
what solution is best starts with some very simple questions:
where building managers can cut costs is essential to understanding
what solutions will be the most effective. For example, if you require
staff to be present daily, identify solutions to manage temperature and
electricity. Room occupancy sensors can be used in conjunction with an
automated system to turn off lights in unused spaces.
Sinclair: How important is an open networking protocol to an IoT ecosystem?
An open networking protocol encourages solution interoperability and
connection to regional, national or global networks. In our case, the LoRa Alliance,
a global non-profit organization comprised of more than 500 members,
was formed to collaborate and share experiences to promote and
drive the success of the LoRaWAN® protocol as the leading open global
standard for secure, carrier-grade IoT LPWAN connectivity.
Sinclair: Privacy is a priority for many building managers and employees. How do you approach the data collection needed for some IoT deployments? What are your thoughts on the security of IoT networks?
We completely agree that privacy must be a top consideration for anyone
adopting smart building technology. With the introduction of GDPR, IoT
solutions must adhere to strict industry regulations. The sensors I’ve
mentioned above do not track user specific data and cannot be traced to
an individual. For example, a desk occupancy sensor can only relay
information on whether or not a desk is being used and not who is using
it. IoT security should be taken extremely seriously, especially with
the growing number of devices being connected every day. Fortunately,
LoRaWAN networks are very secure and its baseline authentication and
security framework is based on the AES 128 encryption scheme as
implemented by IEEE 802.15.4/2006 Annex B [IEEE802154]. By using
separate keys for user data encryption and authentication/network
integrity, LoRaWAN technology offers a higher level of security
compared to single key implementations. Typically LoRaWAN networks use
two methods for IoT device connectivity, Activation by Personalization
(ABP) and Over the Air Activation (OOTA), both of which are difficult
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