How LoRaWAN® enables back-tracing and helps businesses protect their workers from COVID-19 threats

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How LoRaWAN® enables back-tracing and helps businesses protect their workers from COVID-19 threats

During the current times and as the second wave of Covid-19 is ramping-up, we must take severe protection measures to care for ourselves and the people around us. This not only applies to our family members and friends, but also to those who we work with.  Workers are an organization’s most valuable asset; therefore, proximity policies must be enforced in enterprises in order to help prevent Coronavirus from spreading and comply with mandatory safety measures. This is crucial to keep a healthy work environment and to avoid costly temporary shutdowns. This issue is what led Actility to put its IoT expertise in geolocation and network management to work to create a digital Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing Solution. 

How proximity detection is used to control virus propagation

Covid-19 sanitary policies focus on two main goals: enforcement of distancing policies, and rapid and immediate identification of contamination clusters in case of confirmed infection. 

Wearable devices, conveniently packaged as ID Badge holders have been designed to help ensure compliance with social stance guidelines while on a job site or at a workplace, where essential work might need to continue despite the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, but where it can also be tricky to maintain a proper distance between workers without a reminder system. 

Image of Abeeway's Smart badge tracker around neck of construction worker

When the Smart Badge records two or more people exceeding the safety limit, the badge will warn the worker by two levels of audible feedback (warning and immediate danger) or through a visual alarm. 

The badges are connected via LPWAN network to a back-end sanitary policy management application which generates statistics that help identify areas where close contacts occur – e.g. corridors – and help in the continuous improvement of office or factory floor optimization. The badges implement edge processing considering both distance and time, so workers will be warned, and contact registered even if they stay within 5 or 6 feet, but for too long. 

This compliance solution protects workers by ensuring secure social distancing, but it is also protecting the continuity of corporate operations and – by avoiding costly full shutdowns- provides instant RoI. Temporary business shutdowns are necessary when companies are not able to trace contacts, so for precaution operations need to stop until each worker has been tested and provided with negative results, which tends to extend to a full week for each case and causes significant losses as well as unpredictable delivery delays.

Digital contact tracing is achieved by connected badges that report every contact to a central sanitary policy management system, where they are saved for 2 weeks. When a Coronavirus infection is detected, instant back-tracing allows to identify only those workers who have been in close contact with the infected person and limit testing to this cluster only, which minimizes disruption to operations. In addition, several studies have shown that rapid identification of a cluster is essential to prevent propagation, as anyone in the cluster may also start to propagate the virus. With instant back-tracing, propagation gets under control even with a 60% to 70% success rate in effectively isolating the subject contacts.

Quarantine graphics
Figure 1: From Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing, Ferretti & al.

In order to limit the number of potential contacts, the solution also supports zoning policies. This may be organized as distinct work zones, helping workers remain within their assigned area by audio notification, or by organizing shifts. The system can optionally inform management if workers repeatedly violate such zoning policies. 

Compliance & enforcement of maximum density policies can also be implemented through this solution by audio warning when the maximum density of workers is reached in a specific shared area. The solution is also capable of optimizing sanitation of shared assets by analyzing usage in real-time and ensuring compliance while triggering cleaning only when needed. 

Figure 2: Indoor & outdoor coverage of mobile assets with LoRaWAN macrodiversity
Figure 2: Indoor & outdoor coverage of mobile assets with LoRaWAN macrodiversity

How does LoRaWAN® technology make it possible 

LoRaWAN® is the Low-Power Wide Area Network (LP-WAN) technology enabling this digital sanitary policy enforcement and traceability solution. 

LoRaWAN® is a global communication standard developed by the LoRa Alliance. It allows long-range wireless communication at a low data rate, reducing power and cost for transmission, and targeting key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility, and localization services. 

In the context of this use case, the key features of LoRaWAN® are its support for macro-diversity, i.e. within a building all antennas, indoor and outdoor, collaborate to create seamless coverage even for mobile assets. Unlike mesh networks that need to self-optimize for a given asset location and therefore cannot connect mobile devices, the LoRaWAN® Badges work indoors and outdoors, anywhere in the facilities. The Actility ThingPark network server leverages the link quality information received from all gateways to dynamically select the antennas used and optimize indoor & outdoor radio quality. 

If additional antennas need to be installed to ensure full coverage of underground and other hard to reach areas, no configuration or radio planning is needed, the ThingPark platform automatically reorganizes the network to leverage all available antennas and increase coverage and capacity. This makes LoRaWAN® the ideal technology for proximity and contacts back-tracing solutions, as it is easy to install and configure, requires few gateways due to long-range and excellent indoor penetration of the sub-GHz spectrum scales easily, and works indoor & outdoor for fixed and mobile devices.

While Covid-19 is the immediate priority and likely to remain so during H1 2021, companies are also mindful that any investment needs to be preserved after COVID. LoRaWAN® is an open technology that thousands of devices already available in the ecosystem and the same LPWAN network can be leveraged for sub-metering, predictive maintenance, and hundreds of other use cases. Likewise, the Smart Badge offers future-proof features that cover worker safety (evacuation monitoring, man-down, lone worker SoS), security (visitor tracking, geofencing of danger zones), and can be complemented with other LoRaWAN trackers with form factors optimized for asset & tool tracking.

What about privacy?  

Many have proposed technology-based solutions for contact tracing, including leveraging existing data gathered by smartphones and consumer applications to chart transmission. But those efforts also have considerable privacy implications and require the use of a smartphone — which isn’t viable for accurate workplace tracking in high-traffic environments.

For the purposes of privacy protection, Abeeway devices retain a log to provide internal contact tracing capabilities in case of positive coronavirus case diagnoses. It doesn’t include location tracking and it’s not tied to any specific personal identity information for any respective employee who wears them in terms of sharing info.

By creating a dedicated wearable device, Actility and Abeeway help employers avoid doing something invasive with their workforce, since it’s instead tied to a fit-for-purpose device with data shared only with their employers, and it’s in a form factor they can remove and have control over. Mobile devices also can’t do nearly as fine-grained tracking with indoor environments as dedicated hardware can manage.

Is this solution what my company needs? 

The Proximity detection & Contact Tracing Solution can be tried out on a smaller scale with the new Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing Starter Kit, a demo package which combines the Abeeway low-power multi-technology trackers powered by ThingPark, the Actility’s IoT network management platform, allowing to live the full experience of how  LoRaWAN®  can help to enforce proximity policies and keep employees safe.

Get to understand the solution in detail

Watch Actility’s Webinar on Proximity Detection and Contact Tracing for COVID-19. Presented by Olivier Hersent, CEO at Actility , with Rohit Gupta, Product Manager at Actility , and Bert Vanaken, Founder at WMW. Find all the details about the Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing Solution here.

Orange Business Services implements a cutting-edge COVID safety solution in Singapore with Actility & Abeeway

Image showing different assets of OBS social distancing with Abeeway trackers

Orange Business Services implements a cutting-edge COVID safety solution in Singapore with Actility & Abeeway

AUGUST 7, 2020 | written by actility

Orange Business Services Singapore has implemented their COVID Safety Distancing Solution. An extremely easy to set-up turnkey system for enterprises, which helps to keep employees safe from COVID-19 threats by using our Abeeway Micro Trackers, connected through LoRaWAN and with a dedicated app, also combined with Thermal & Mask Scanning techniques. 

Image showing different assets of OBS social distancing with Abeeway trackers
Image showing different assets of OBS social distancing with Abeeway trackers

Orange Business Services Singapore has implemented their COVID Safety Distancing Solution. An extremely easy to set-up turnkey system for enterprises, which helps to keep employees safe from COVID-19 threats by using our Abeeway Micro Trackers, connected through LoRaWAN and with a dedicated app, also combined with Thermal & Mask Scanning techniques. 

The system, based on Actility’s Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing Solution, alerts employees who don’t comply with the COVID-19 measures dictated by the company, allowing to detect people with atypical temperature measurement trying to enter the workspace facilities, employees not respecting social distancing between each other, or crowds exceeding the number of people allowed in each area of the workspace. 

The set-up of this system is exceptionally easy and just requires a temperature recognition system before entering the workspace and the creation of an employee list including full names, employer IDs and a recent photo (to ensure facial recognition). If an employee registers a higher than normal temperature reading, an alert containing the details of the employee will be sent to the system manager and the facility manager allowing them to take immediate actions. 

Due to the difficulty of keeping full time social distance, the system also includes a safety social distancing solution which consists on alerting employees via audio and visual cues if they were to unconsciously get too close to their coworkers. This solution works through Smart Badges assigned to each worker. These devices, linked to the individual’s profile have been designed by Abeeway, Actility’s subsidiary specialized in low-power geolocation, and work through portable multi-mode trackers with embedded sensors which combine multiple geolocation technologies to offer accurate and continuous outdoor and indoor geolocation and alert workers when they are not complying with the established social distance guidelines. The administrator will also be able to configure the alert notification system, including who and how to alert. The solution will also log these incidents into the system, to keep a record of date, time and location of when the encounter happened.  

Guests can easily be invited to the office, it is simply required to send them a link via email before the meeting date, allowing them to pre-register. Once they arrive to the office, their temperature will be taken and they will be assigned a Smart Badge linked to their profile while they are within the premises, being able to reprogram the badge when the guest has left the office. 

This safety distancing solution also has a unique feature which allows facility managers to set crowd density for enclosed specific areas. Once that maximum number of people is reached the Smart Badges will automatically trigger alerts to everyone within that specific facility. A very useful feature for office canteens, meeting rooms, demo spaces and showrooms where crowds can gather very quickly. 

Orange Business Services Singapore’s COVID Safety Distancing Solution has improved enormously the safety in their offices due to this solution and now offers contact tracers and managers a comprehensive 360-degree view to help them make more informed decisions on the necessary actions to take for different employees based on their actual interaction and exposure risks.  

Contact us today to find out the best solutions for your industry.

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AWS and Actility have the best way to start an IoT project

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THE ACTILITY BLOG

AWS and Actility have the best way to start an IoT project

AUGUST 7, 2020 | written by actility

Thinking about deploying an IoT use case? Don’t start from scratch, AWS just announced the availability of 29 IoT solutions from AWS and its partner network (APN) to address common use cases in automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, and connected home. Two of these solutions use LoRaWAN® expertise from  Actility, offering our Actility ThingPark Enterprise Solution and ThingPark Location Low-Power Asset Tracking Solution.

All aspects of an enterprise can be data-driven, meaning that they can store huge amounts of insights which can work to improve customer experience, increase workers efficiency and leverage innovation, accelerating time to value. AWS has a broad and deep IoT knowledge, which allows to build an enormously varied end-to-end devices portfolio, designed for virtually any purpose and which now includes Actility’s solutions. 

Read our PR: “Your dedicated IoT network just one click away: LoRaWAN® now available in AWS Marketplace with AWS IoT Core, from a market leader.

So… how can I apply this to my own company ?

By getting an end-to-end solution you are allowing yourself to address common IoT use cases in manufacturing, tracking, healthcare, or any other industry by using LoRaWAN connectivity.

Actility has become one of the main AWS IoT partners by joining the AWS IoT Solution Repository, and by offering Actility’s ThingPark Location Low-Power Asset Tracking Solution . This solution provides AWS’s Catalog with a complete low-power geolocation solution for the Internet of Things that surpasses simple GPS by offering a switchable location technology which enables outdoor and indoor asset tracking, working through low-power consumption trackers connected to LoRaWAN, with a modular location engine powered by Abeeway.

Moreover, Actility ThingPark Enterprise Solution – A LoRaWAN private networking solution efficiently connects an organization’s most valuable assets. It provides a scalable multi-gateway LoRaWAN connectivity infrastructure as well as dashboards for key operational insight and alarm management.

This large range of products can be found in the AWS Partner Device Catalog , where you can search and filter solutions by industry, solution type, use cases and AWS services, to help you quickly find the right solution for you. Our ThingPark Location Low-Power Asset Tracking Solution and many more can also be found in AWS IoT Solution Repository or can be bought directly from the AWS Marketplace. 

Contact us today to find out the best solutions for your industry.

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Covid-19: how the Internet of Things can save People

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Covid-19: how the IoT can save people. Solutions from WMW, Abeeway and Actility

Press Release, Hasselt / Paris, 07.04.2020 

WMW, a Belgian “framework” for IoT, Abeewaya location intelligence solution provider for IoT, and Actility, the leading provider of Low-Power WAN networking solutions, are launching several solutions to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic at different stages, using various geolocation technologies and low-power IoT networks.  

The three companies have integrated their solutions: WMW is an adaptive registration dashboard with micro-modules, allowing to visualize data from IoT devices and get valuable insights. The WMW solutions takes inputs from Abeeway devices processed by ThingPark Location Enginethe fused location provider platform of Actility.  

There are 3 solutions that are offered: 

1) Private Proximity Registration. Companies that want to return to work demand solutions to protect their employees. This kit provides a private network and personal trackers to maintain a dynamic virtual geofence around an employee at site level. Since we will have to be careful for several more months to come and our employees are our most important assets, this solution helps to prevent and warn against proximity. 

2) MySpace Monitoring. Elderly people, that we would want to follow up a little closer, can be in closer contact with their caregivers or family. Panic buttons, sensors that monitor movement, energy, and even doors, can be used in hospitals and rest homes, but also for people who still live at home. This allows direct, but also indirect, anomalies to be reported and timely action can be taken. 

3) Quarantine Monitoring. People who should live in (self) quarantine do not always follow the rules and sometimes dare to go outside their zone, posing a high risk of spreading the virus. This solution registers the breach and informs about it.

Quarantine monitoring image

Deploying technology against Covid spreading 

The world of IoT is usually aimed at the visualization and big data of the things that our society uses to help an organisation or industry to operate. Examples cover a very wide range such as Smart Waste, Smart Parking, and even Building Management. WMW is not just an IoT Platform, but more specifically a technology (framework) to build platforms. Thus, WMW have taken a step back to create greater flexibility and to allow them to build tailored applications fully focused on the “use case”. This flexibility is extended very far. For example, the WMW platform is device-agnostic, network-agnostic, database-agnostic, and is being used worldwide through partners. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve focused primarily on applications, derivatives of the 97 apps we’ve already built, that can handle various impacts and observations around Covid-19. Our resellers worldwide are close to their governments and this allows us to draw global conclusions that are not valid only in Belgium. Of course, it helps that we know a lot of device makers and that we can help inspire their strategy. After all, we report the questions from the market back to them,” according to Bert Vanaken, CEO of WMW. 

Abeeway offers a complete low-power indoor&outdoor fused geolocation solution for the Internet of Things that surpasses simple GPS. Through location intelligence, we enable efficient management of your mobile and fixed assets, protecting people and monitoring animals. We give organizations, industries, logistics companies, and the entire supply chain transparency and more effective processes.  

Abeeway decided to contribute its extensive expertise in the field of low-power geolocation in order to help people, companies and hospitals in the fight against COVID-19. With the Abeeway tracking system, including miniature trackers and badge trackers, you can set automated alarms and geofence boundary alerts to register breaches, help people to remain  alert and allow proximity back-tracing, according to Olivier HersentActility & Abeeway’s CEO.

Picture of the Abeeway micro tracker in hand

Worldwide availability 

These innovative solutions can be deployed everywhere on available LoRaWAN public networks or also using dedicated private networks.  

Actility  ThingPark Enterprise platform provides SaaS as well as on-site private IoT LoRaWAN network managementThingPark is the market leading LPWAN platform, deployed by over 50 service providers worldwide, and adapted to the needs of Enterprise use cases. It focuses on security, simplicity and rapid deployment on campuses of any scale, providing seamless connectivity without dead zones to for people safety or any other IoT use case.

Abeeway logo

About Abeeway, an Actility Group company  

Abeeway is the market leader in low-power indoor & outdoor fused geolocation and a provider of disruptive IoT tracking solutions worldwide. Abeeway offers the most energy-efficient, reliable and flexible geolocation solutions using unique tracking devices and a smart Multi-technology location system optimized for long-range and low-power-consumption leveraging LoRaWAN™ connectivity.  

Abeeway is a member of LoRa Alliance™ and is an Actility group company. 

www.abeeway.com

Actility logo

Actility is a world leader in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark platform and network technology to deploy, operate and maintain public and private wireless IoT networks within a unified, scalable and versatile network infrastructure. The vast majority of nationwide LoRaWAN® network service providers (over 50) and hundreds of companies trust ThingPark™ all over the world. Through its subsidiary AbeewayActility also provides patented ultra-low power tracking solutions. ThingPark Market offers the largest selection of interoperable IoT gateways, devices and applications to simplify and accelerate deployment of use cases.   

Website: www.actility.com

WMW full logo

About WMW  

WMW is a product of ClearDigital NV, a Belgian player in the IoT spaceWMW is not an IoT platform, but a technology to build platformsThe library approach is unique in its kind and allows the development of applications, with maximum flexibility and tailoring towards customised use cases, in extremely short time. It has produced over 100 applications already and is being sold worldwide by resellers and partners in the Telco world (such as Orange, NNNco, LRTC, …), and in the System Integrator world (such as SCSK – subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp ,Capita, …) . 

wmw-hub.com 
ClearDigital NV – WMW 
Bert Vanaken – CEO 
+32 498 520 479

Sharing economy meets home networks

THE ACTILITY BLOG

Sharing economy meets home networks

AUGUST 14, 2019 | written by OLIVIER HERSENT, CEO & CTO ACTILITY

The recent Amazon Sidewalk announcement has implications far beyond a new sexy feature on a smart speaker, it represents a fundamental paradigm evolution of home networks and a key enabler for smart-communities. Interestingly, it is likely to impact not just the richest economies: in fact the paradigm change is even more fundamental for countries with low per-capita income implying low budgets for any kind of smart-home/community initiative.

So… what is this ? Some of us will remember the initiative of FON, back in 2006, which attempted to turn the WiFi technology into a pervasive collaborative network. Martín Varsavsky thought that using the millions of home WiFi access points just for home networks was an incredible waste of resources. A perfect city network was at hand at virtually no incremental cost : just share ! Unfortunately WiFi collaborative networks didn’t take off to the anticipated scale : the WiFi technology wasn’t really designed for sharing, and the limited range, about 20 to 40m in urban areas, required mass adoption to cover full cities.

But recent LPWAN technologies, such as LoRaWAN, do not have these issues. They are designed for long range : experiments have shown that an average radius of 400 to 500m for an indoor picocell is realistic in big cities. They are designed for sharing : unlike traditional mesh networks or WiFi, all LoRaWAN antennas collaborate and form a seamless network. If 10 antennas are in range of a sensor, all 10 antennas will be used to decode each frame from the sensor, dramatically improving Quality of Service, and reducing Packet Error Rate. Even better, the collaboration technology is completely dynamic and will automatically “adopt” and leverage any new picocell, and even works across collaborative networks by leveraging a standardized peering protocol (LoRa Alliance Back-End interface 1.x).

The end result is that full coverage of a city may be obtained by deploying a surprisingly low number of picocells. Many companies can deploy such picocells at a ridiculously low incremental cost : internet providers (though new LPWAN add-on board to triple play modems) and smart speaker companies are the most obvious ones. Telcos and cable operators will probably not like to see big portals building a strategic over-the-top community network on top of their fixed broadband infrastructure without reaction, so you can expect smart speakers to shoot the new collaborative LPWAN feature first, followed by Telcos and cable operators.

In rich economies, you will soon be able to track your pets, connect alarm systems, get a better parcel delivery tracking system, so this is good news. For the emerging economies, this is a game changer.

Take the example of Ho-Chi-Min city, 2090km2.

With a traditional smart home model, say with a Zigbee transceiver in each home, costs are linear, so there are no economies of scale, and it is hard to provide the feature for less than about 5-10USD per home. Also the use cases remain scoped to home only, limiting revenue opportunities.

 

By contrast, assuming an easy macrocell LoRaWAN network on few high points already covers 1/3rd of the area, the rest of city coverage can be achieved with about 1000 picocells. Statistically, only the first 1000 homes need incremental investment. The marginal cost of the smart community goes asymptotically to… zero. And many use cases are now made possible : connected smoke detectors, bus, bike and scooter tracking, gas and water metering, gas bottle refill optimization… all things that are really useful for the city and community development.

Of course, this needs a mental switch to accept some randomness in the network operation and deployment, not knowing upfront exactly which numbers of picocells will be used, etc… but relying on randomness does not mean giving up QoS. LoRaWAN picocell networks have a very high degree of macrodiversity, i.e. many antennas receive the signal in parallel. If one disappears, there is no impact on service. In fact such redundancy means much more reliable networks, which is somewhat counter intuitive. These picocell networks also use relatively high datarates at very low power : this means short transmit times and ultra-low, unbeatable battery costs (50 to 100x below cellular networks). This opens the door for many use cases that require both low device and low connectivity costs.

I find it somewhat ironic that the aggressive search of economic optimum in our capitalist economies finally concludes that… sharing is our best option 🙂

More details and hindsight in this webinar recording.

Credits : Nicolas Jordan, Actility for the comparative TCO model, individual or LPWAn collaborative

Contact us today to find out the best solutions for your industry.

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