I am looking for some advice for setting up an IoT sensor network in remote areas. It needs to be as plug-and-play as possible as it will not be done by technicians...
I work for an international NGO with projects in Central, West and East Africa, Middle East and LatAm. Most of our projects are in remote towns and villages. We would like to improve our data collection, primarily for energy (ie the power consumed from our generators, specific devices, different facilities, etc), and maybe some temperature/humidtity/CO2, potentially some water tank level monitoring, eventually borehole monitoring, and whatever else comes up.
To me it looks like Lora could be a good protocol in many of these applications due to lack of cellular coverage, the distance between sensors and possible Wifi/Ethernet, and the long battery life in sensors.
Clearly there is no existing Lorawan in these areas so I would need to create this from scratch.
Our offices typically have a (semi) reliable internet connection (VSAT or 3G if available) and these are generally within about 500m of where sensors should be located.
My understanding is that I need to:
- Install a Lora Gateway device connected to the internet.
- Deploy sensors that use the Lora protocol.
- Set up an IoT platform to collect, store and visualise the data
- Associate the sensors with my platform
- enjoy the fruits of my labours.
So my questions:
- Is my understanding correct?
- Regarding gateways, do I need an outdoor gateway? Or is an indoor gateway likely to be able to receive messages from up to 500 m (rural settings, building structure concrete blocks, other structures minimal and made with mud bricks)? Or internal gateway with external antenna or external gateway (mindful of cost increases). Is that totally a 'it depends on the sensor' kind of question?
- I will need to ship these items directly to non-technical users. Are there full plug-and-play gatweays available (I understand that I will still need to have a way to associate the sensor with the platform). Or is there always a need to do a set up on each gateway?
- Any recommendations for low cost gateways that are as plug-and-play as possible and could meet these requirements?
- IoT Platform for early testing - any recommendations for a platformfor the intial testing phase? Again, as an NGO, budget is tight...
Perhaps this is way too vague, and apologies if the answer is RTFM...
Many thanks to any and all