The City of St. Albert has launched a Smart City sensor pilot project, which is the first pilot within a larger review of wireless sensor networks and management platforms throughout 2017. The pilots are intended to provide a low-risk, low-cost means to test the application of sensor networks and platforms with a focus on evaluating communications reliability and range, device integration, platform functionality and cost.
This first pilot involves the installation of a small weather station on the roof of a City facility, remotely connected to a wireless LoRa network - a low-power wide-area network intended to connect wireless battery operated devices over distances of up to three kilometers away in urban areas. A second location and different sensor device is also under review, to increase the range of the pilot and the type of information collected over the LoRa network.
“This is a great example of how St. Albert is leading the way as an innovative community that places high value on collaboration and data-based decision making,” says Mayor Nolan Crouse. “It is important for the City to assess several technologies as it considers expanding its sensing capacity in the most effective and economical manner. I’m also proud that our Administration works hard to ensure that the City is well-positioned to capitalize on opportunities both now and into the future.”
The weather station’s sensors collect instant readings on outdoor temperature, humidity, rainfall, barometric pressure, wind speed and wind direction. This data is then transmitted wirelessly every few minutes to LoRa network equipment, which is connected to the Internet and stored within a database to make the results available through a web portal. Readings can be provided as instantaneous data or graphs showing trends over longer periods of time and may also be downloaded or posted for public viewing.
The pilot aligns directly with St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan – a guiding document that describes how the community will advance innovation and collaboration efforts, and apply new technologies and data sources for public benefit. The delivery of small pilot projects and the expanded use of sensors to collect and respond to live data were each referenced as priorities within the Master Plan.
To support the pilot, officials in the City’s Innovation and Technology Services department are working with two partners - the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and Edmonton based company Zedi.
Zedi is a leading technology and services company in the field of upstream oil and gas production operations. Zedi is currently expanding its ‘internet of things’ (IoT) platform and expertise for use in other applications in support of Alberta’s communities. Zedi expanded its IoT platform by introducing LoRa to the Alberta market in other pilot activity in late 2016. The use of LoRa combined with Zedi’s existing integrated platform meant the company could install the St. Albert weather station and have it reporting wirelessly that same morning.
NAIT’s involvement is through its Bachelor of Technology (BTech) program, designed to educate future technologists with the technical theory, innovative skills, and ethical and social awareness to meet the challenges of today’s economy. Three BTech students are working on a capstone project which intends to assess several technical considerations for LoRa networks, including effective range in urban and rural areas, power consumption under various real-world conditions and reliability of communications. St. Albert is a strong supporter of NAIT’s BTech program and has participated in several recent shared projects.
The pilot is scheduled to finish in spring 2017 with a "capstone" presentation by the NAIT students and a final report to Zedi and City Administration. The City also has plans to test additional sensor networks, devices and platforms over the course of 2017, as part of its larger review.
For more information on St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan and the City’s current initiatives, visit stalbert.ca/smartcity.
For more information on Zedi, visit zedisolutions.com
For more information on the NAIT BTech Capstone program, visit nait.ca/78678.htm.