Making Cities Smarter

Bringing the Smart City to Life in Calgary

 

The adoption of smart city technology is helping the City of Calgary become more sustainable, connected, and efficient. The process started over 20 years ago as Calgary steadily built its municipal communication infrastructure. More recently, the City partnered with Semtech to deploy its LoRa® devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) for connectivity combined with LoRa-enabled devices, sensors and gateways as the tools to provide data communication. Its open standards, ease of deployment, quality, software compatibility and security were all factors that led Calgary to its LoRa implementation.

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Calgary is one of the first cities in North America to build a municipality-owned, carrier-grade LoRaWAN network. The LoRaWAN-based network is intended to foster future innovation and accelerate the IoT development in Calgary. The LoRaWAN-based network began with three grade mega gateways installed on radio towers across the City. Each gateway can support 16-channels on the receiver side and two- transmit channels. The gateways provide up to a seven-mile radius of coverage in a dense urban environment.

 

Active sensors from the City and the University of Calgary are communicating on the network for a variety of use cases. We can point to three specific implementations as case studies for how smart cities can come to life.

 

Improving Quality of Life in the City

 

Excess noise in cities can cause disturbed sleep, hearing loss, cognitive disorders and high blood pressure. It is difficult for municipal noise ordinances to consistently manage disturbances as assessments of noise and monitoring are performed infrequently and are primarily complaint-driven. With LoRa, Calgary has built a network of low-cost acoustic sensors to enable the continuous monitoring of sound in the city. Through machine learning, these sensors can categorize sounds - such as trains, construction and even drag racing. As time goes by with continued study these devices will be capable of identifying a larger pool of noises. As a next step, Calgary will look to spatially correlate the information over time and location to help determine the appropriate response patterns to automatically alert officials when noise has exceeded its threshold and a disturbance is caused.

 

Tracking is the key to understanding the pace of play at the Shaganappi Point Golf Course, one of the oldest courses in the City of Calgary. Embedded sensors in golf carts provide the Calgary Recreation and Information Technology team valuable insight into pace of play. The details shared by these devices show the time it takes customers to complete the course and how long they take at pivotal locations. Anomalies can be easily detected, alerting court marshals when golfers need support or assistance. Ultimately the Shaganappi Point will be able to compart the total cost of ownership of an in-house solution against off-the shelf industry products and determine if the pace of play solutions should be deployed to all City-operated courses.

 

LoRa Technology is also helping regulate three-acres of botanical paradise at the top of the CORE shopping center in Calgary. Known as the Devonian Gardens, it’s one of the largest indoor gardens of its kind that is home to over 10,000 ground cover plants, 250 trees, a 900-square-foot “living wall”, koi ponds and a children’s play area. Sensors are used to monitor the health of the garden through the real-time measurement of light, water, air and soil characteristics. Understanding these properties helps reduce disease and the penetration of pests. Horticulturists at the Devonian Gardens can adjust lighting, humidity and soil salinity per the data provided by these sensors to efficiently maintain a tropical environment despite the indoor challenges.

 

Potential for Growth

 

These three use cases are just the start of Calgary’s vision for what it’s calling its City Network of Things (CNoT). Calgary encourages companies, researchers and individuals to test and develop IoT ideas and products in real-life environments. The City hopes many of its 32 business units will use its CNot, eventually connecting tens of thousands of sensors.

 

For more details, visit Semtech.

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