A brand-new business area – that can definitely be seen as a good project result! When the municipally owned company Kraftringen became a partner in Future by Lund's Smarta Offentliga Miljöer (Smart Public Environments/ SOM) project they surely didn’t predict to take care of Lund’s sensor communication, the LoRa network – but that is exactly what happened. Now, anyone who needs to communicate with LoRa sensors can easily do so without the need to build or operate an independent infrastructure. Opportunities to connect sensors with the help of Kraftringen are on the rise. Recently, Eslöv and Lomma have also received similar networks.
Kraftringen is in charge of Lund's electricity, heating, cooling, gas, fiber. The newest addition to its catalogue of responsibilities is the sensor network since the autumn of 2019. This one stems from Future by Lund’s SOM project (Smart Public Environments). Kraftringen uses the LoRa technology, and the network creates opportunities to develop services within IoT. The free testbed could thus live on even though it has become a bit stricter and is also open to commercial companies to test their products. It has been previously installed to test pre-commercial projects in the sensor network area.
Future by Lund and the SOM project have installed three base stations in spring 2017 to establish an open city-wide wireless LoRa network in Lund's central urban area. The network was accessible to various actors at a pre-commercial stage free of charge to provide students, interested individuals and small as well as medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with an easy option to participate in the development of the Internet of Things.
During this time, Håkan Skarrie, business developer at Kraftringen, was one of the first sub-project leaders.
− Before SOM, we did not have much knowledge of the IoT and sensor area, but with the project we learned more about the subject and the opportunities it harbours for us, says Håkan Skarrie. Relatively early in the project, we saw the opportunity to build a completely new business area with sensor communication. Our solutions are now on a completely different level, we have an infrastructure, we use Sensative's sensor platform Yggio and we have taken over and expanded the LoRa network from the project. This makes it much easier for us to set up and test new sensors in the future and we can offer sensor communication to our customers.
In autumn 2019, Kraftringen took over the project’s network and built more base stations to create a good coverage over Lund. Those who had previously tested products within the SOM project could now also commercialize and develop their services. Other actors with a need for sensor communication can also connect to the existing platform. At the same time, the original testbed remains and continues to offer a possibility to test ideas at a pre-commercial stage. The test bed is targeting students and SMEs and gives them the opportunity to try out ideas and develop different services free of charge for a certain period of time.
The sensor network technology is called LoRa. The word LoRa stands for Long Range. LoRa is a standard technology in smart cities around the world. Kraftringen also works with Bluetooth and possibly other technologies in the future. In addition, customers are offered an open horizontal IoT platform that makes it possible to gather all IoT devices and data in one system, regardless of application, technology and manufacturer.
So far, the network is used to a limited extent. Next to Kraftringen, mainly the companies that have participated in the SOM project that take part. The company Bintel monitors underground waste containers and Sensefarm’s sensors overlook the watering of the large and newly planted tree in the Lund Cathedral School's yard. Additionally, Kraftringen has built LoRa networks in other involved municipalities outside Lund, beginning with Eslöv and Lomma. Kraftringen is now also part of StadshubbsAlliansen which is a national platform for city network owners who have LoRa networks. With the help of this network, knowledge spreads from Lund to the rest of the country and vice versa.
- We continue to work on finding internal users at Kraftringen and new external customers, says Håkan Skarrie. Through SOM, we have a better collaboration with the municipality and municipal companies around IoT and we are a group that looks at how we can do this best together. We must work together as much as possible so not everyone crafts their own solution. The origin of this lies in the SOM project and through the work in SOM it has gone faster than it would have otherwise. With the project, we have also gained a network and collaborations with companies in this area that we would not have had otherwise.
The SOM project is part of the Strategic Innovation Program for the Internet of Things, IoT Sweden. It is funded by Vinnova and the City of Lund. The project started on September 1, 2017 and lasted until December 18, 2020.
Translation Christin Scheller