Environmental monitoring is a broad application for the Internet of Things. It involves everything from monitoring levels of ozone in a meat packing facility to monitoring national forests for smoke. Using IoT environment sensors for these various applications can take an otherwise highly labor-intensive process and make it simple and efficient.

Below, we’ve outlined eight of the most common IoT environmental monitoring use cases, a few considerations when selecting an IoT network, and why a low power, wide-area network (LPWAN) may be your best solution.

8 IoT Environment Monitoring Use Cases

  1. Monitoring air for quality, carbon dioxide and smog-like gasses, carbon monoxide in confined areas, and indoor ozone levels.
  2. Monitoring water for quality, pollutants, thermal contaminants, chemical leakages, the presence of lead, and flood water levels.
  3. Monitoring soil for moisture and vibration levels in order to detect and prevent landslides.
  4. Monitoring forests and protected land for forest fires.
  5. Monitoring for natural disasters like earthquake and tsunami warnings.
  6. Monitoring fisheries for both animal health and poaching.
  7. Monitoring snowfall levels at ski resorts and in national forests for weather tracking and avalanche prevention.
  8. Monitoring data centers for air temperature and humidity.

Some Considerations When Selecting Your Network For IoT Environmental Monitoring

Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) are often not suited for long-range performance, which makes them a poor choice for running environmental sensors. WiFi has long-range performance limits as well, and the infrastructure costs involved in setting up a Wi-Fi network can be prohibitive.

Mesh topologies like ZigBee wouldn’t work for IoT environmental monitoring either, as the sensors are not close enough together (and could be on the ground)—so getting solid point-to-point links would prove to be very difficult.

And aside from cellular M2M networks being power hungry, expensive to deploy, and costly, they also wouldn’t work in many rural environments without cellular service. That leaves low power, wide-area networks (LPWAN) as an ideal choice for IoT environmental monitoring.

Why LPWAN For IoT Environmental Sensors?

Low power, wide-area network (LPWAN) technology is perfectly suited for environmental monitoring, as it can connect devices that need to stay in the field for an extended period of time and send small amounts of data over a long range. Some IoT applications need to transmit only tiny amounts of information—like a sensor that sends data only if it senses smoke in a forest.

Looking for a detailed explanation of low power, wide-area networks? Download this free, 16-page white paper.

There are a number of reasons you may want to select LPWAN technology for your IoT environmental monitoring:

  • Long battery life. Once in place, LPWAN sensors don’t need to be  touched for five to 10 years, which makes them ideal for areas that aren’t easily serviceable. Many LPWAN technologies also allow environmental sensors to be powered by solar, which is an excellent green method for remote terrains.
  • Low cost. If you want to do widespread detection of anything from air quality to forest fires, you need a relatively high density of sensors—and purchasing the LPWAN sensors won’t break the bank.
  • Long range. The end-nodes and antennas of an LPWAN system can be deployed from 500 meters to over 10 kilometers apart depending on the technology.
  • Satellite backhaul ability. It is possible to couple your long-range wireless system with satellite backhaul so your gateway is always connected to the internet. This allows the gateway to be remote, without worrying how you’ll get the monitoring data back.

In Summary

If you’re contemplating using LPWAN technology for your IoT environment monitoring application, you’ll want to take an in-depth look at the fundamental concepts behind LPWAN (like sensitivity, processing gain, and interference) as well as a review of industry leaders. Click the link below to get your free LPWAN whitepaper today. WhitePaper Download CTA

Written by Brian Ray

Brian is the Founder and CTO of Link Labs. As the chief technical innovator and leader of the company, Brian has led the creation and deployment of a new type of ultra long-range, low-power wireless networking which is transforming the Internet of Things and M2M space.

Before starting Link Labs, Brian led a team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab that solved communications and geolocation problems for the national intelligence community. He was also the VP of Engineering at the network security company, Lookingglass, and served for eight years as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his Master’s Degree from Oxford University.

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