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IoT Solutions for Transportation

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Among industry sectors that are rapidly adopting IoT technology, public transportation is one that can benefit the most from gains in operational efficiencies, cost savings, safety and security. The automotive industry also has unique needs, and some excellent innovations are emerging to support that market as well.

In this post we will look at some specific IoT solution examples for transportation from the Digi collection of customer success stories, such as Positive Train Control (PTC), vehicle analytics, ticketing systems, transit system security and high-speed passenger Wi-Fi.

IoT-Enabled Solutions for Transportation

Smart city IoT transportation iconsTechnology advances are supporting the development and deployment of IoT solutions across the transit sector. For example, the networks themselves have advanced with the rapid growth of 4G networks and the advent of 5G.

Meanwhile, 2G and 3G networks are shutting down, contributing to the growth of new and enhanced products and systems optimized for more advanced networks. In metropolitan areas today, the reliability of cellular networks now rivals, and even exceeds, traditional wired networks.

Moreover, new mobile access router technology provides the critical connectivity to support these applications. For example, Digi transportation routers provide secure cellular connectivity and multi-purpose data routing for demanding
transit and industrial environments affected by factors such as
temperature fluctuations, moisture, movement and vibration.

Transit sector solutions must meet a range of objectives, depending on the use case:

  • Public transit systems: Improve on-board rider experiences, including safety, with high-speed Internet connectivity
  • Railways: Improve train safety and responsiveness to emergency situations, while meeting PTC regulatory requirements
  • Trucking/supply chain: Track vehicle analytics, reduce the need for truck rolls, and expand automated processes to save operational costs

Case Study Examples: IoT Solutions for Transit and Automotive

Digi customers develop a wide range of IoT applications and solutions using Digi products. Here are a few examples of solutions that serve the transportation sector today.

SEPTA: Positive Train Control (PTC)

SEPTA

The Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) provides light rail, subway and bus service to more than one million riders daily in and around Philadelphia. SEPTA was one of the early transit systems to mobilize their Positive Train Control (PTC) installation, a sophisticated train-signaling system designed to prevent crashes, derailments and track worker injuries resulting from speed and signal violations.

SEPTA worked with Digi to deploy the right connectivity solution for PTC:

  • • The Digi® WR44-RR mobile access router.
  • • PTC message routing and wireless communications via a Mobile Communications Package (MCP)
  • • An integrated, drop-in MCP assembly that houses Digi WR44 RR, a 220 MHz TDMA radio, power supply and RF filters

TransPort WR44 RR Train configuration

Results

The Digi WR44 RR is the integral communications hub in all locomotives and vehicles, relaying PTC data messages to and from waysides via 220 MHz radio and enabling remote system maintenance, configuration and network management over a cellular link.  Increased network reliability and rail system visibility extends performance beyond PTC toward Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), resulting in more efficient scheduling, greater capacity and increased fuel savings.


Read our white paper on rail-certified cellular communications: The Fast Track to Positive Train Control Compliance.


TransData: Passenger Ticketing and Information System

Train passengerSystems integrators in the IoT space have enormous opportunity today to support the needs of organizations across the transport sector, from city bus and light rail agencies to trucking companies in the supply chain, and long distance passenger trains. The needs are growing as these agencies work to meet compliance requirements and compete in their marketplaces by providing enhanced services and improved security.

TransData is an IoT systems integrator that develops applications for public transit, such as payment and identifications systems, for the Slovak market. TransData’s flagship product is a multi-faceted solution that supports a broad range of public transport capabilities:

  • • Secure fare transactions
  • • Easy-to-use electronic card system simplifies passenger experiences
  • • GPS-tracked route guidance minimizes delays
  • • Display local shops, restaurants and points of interest
  • • More reliable Internet access and high-speed passenger Wi-Fi
  • • Monitor traffic activity with on-vehicle security cameras
  • • Route communications through a central depot or dispatch

Results

The applications above are enabled by Digi ConnectCore® 6 ultra-compact system-on-module (SOM), which supports TransData connectivity requirements at an affordable price point. TransData ticketing and information systems require superior video performance, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and connectivity to the vehicle data system and cellular modem. The applications also require a stable package and small form factor that can withstand rugged conditions such as extreme heat, humidity and vibration while maintaining network connectivity to perform these complex tasks.

SMART: Public Transit System Computer-Aided Dispatch

SMART city transit

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Rapid Transit (SMART) metro bus fleet of 330 biodiesel and hybrid-electric buses covers more than 1,100 miles and supports 32,000 riders daily. With this extensive fleet, it is critical to monitor the vehicles in order to ensure the highest levels of passenger safety and on-time performance.

The business problem to solve involved the upgrade of an aging CAD/AVL (Computer-Aided Dispatch / Automatic Vehicle Location) system built on a legacy analog radio network connected via three leased towers. SMART first evaluated migrating from analog to digital signals and increasing the number of towers, but that was cost-prohibitive. Ultimately SMART switched to VOIP on cellular for CAD, taking advantage of the packet priority services built into the Digi WR44 R mobile cellular router.

Results

With its switch to a cellular-based AVL, SMART can collect and analyze a much wider range of data and metrics — including vehicle location and speed — in real-time. Maintenance data is also captured to help prevent breakdowns and accelerate repair cycles, in order to minimize vehicle downtime. Data is transmitted to the operations center through a highly secure VPN tunnel, while operators can communicate with Central Dispatch using VoIP handsets.

Due to these upgrades and enhancements, the SMART leadership estimates they are saving over $70,000 each year.

Macchina: Auto Control Center

Macchina and Digi devicesMacchina worked with Digi to develop an affordable 4G LTE solution with a small footprint. The team chose the Digi XBee® Cellular embedded modem based on its design – an open source interface for car hobbyists and professionals to program a device or service into the automotive aftermarket.

“Our vision is to offer a ‘one-to-many’ interface,” explained Josh Sharpe, Macchina chief technical officer. “In the database world, you might call this middleware. The device maker will be able to create one device with one interface to our board – and we handle integration to hundreds of vehicles.”

The product therefore enables developers to “Another way to think of Macchina is that it’s like a key to unlock the control center of the car. Once you are in, you can use Macchina to make changes and tweaks to the car. You can do anything from simple projects, like stopping that annoying ding, to more complex upgrades such as unlocking more horsepower or improving fuel economy.”

Results

Macchina essentially provides a project template that enables development and encourages innovation. Developers appreciate the open source platform to write code, as well as a community of car hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals to consult with as they explore various approaches to their own product development.

Summary

The transportation sector is seeing a substantial adoption of IoT solutions to improve safety, public transit monitoring and routing and ridership experiences. A complete set of Digi solutions satisfy a range of transport needs, from Positive Train Control, high-speed Wi-Fi and surveillance cameras, to secure IDs, easy-to-use ticketing systems and more efficient route management.

Additionally, the Digi professional services teams can provide guidance at any point, from wireless design services to proof of concept, PCB layout and certification assistance.

>> For more information about Digi’s IoT solutions for transportation, contact us today, or download our white paper, Making the Connection in Transportation.

 

Mission Critical Communications for Transportation

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City residents expect their transit systems to run on schedule. To make that happen, regional transportation officials need to be able to dynamically redirect capacity where needed during rush hour, special events and unforeseen incidents. Transit agencies are also expected to immediately activate emergency response procedures following a disaster. All this requires a communication network that is fail-safe, interoperable and highly secure. Most would agree that today’s networks are not completely adequate, and that further improvement is required to achieve more effective communications.

In this post, we will cover IoT solutions available for the broad-spectrum needs of the transit sector, including railroad companies, city transit systems and emergency responders. We will review specific connectivity solutions that support the requirements of these organizations, from secure IoT devices to cloud-based management platforms and professional services to help guide IoT implementations.

PTC Automatically Controls Trains to Prevent Collisions, Derailments or Switching Errors

Some, but not all, railroads have met the Positive Train Control (PTC) deployment deadlines, which continue to be extended. The challenges most often cited include system complexity, capital investment and spectrum allocation. The communications network adds to the complexity, due to the need to integrate a fiber backbone with cellular and 220 MHz, and to deal with 220 MHz interoperability issues. The communications network is considered a safety-critical PTC system component, so if it is in a failed state the train can proceed at reduced speed only if other signaling systems are operating.

To help expedite PTC compliance, Digi offers a complete communications connectivity solution that includes the Digi WR44 RR router, purpose-built for the rail industry and designed to be mounted on board locomotives and rail cars. It meets all rail-certification requirements for AREMA C and H, EN50155 and AAR S-5702. Communications interfaces include hardened connectors, specifically M12 for Ethernet and serial, as well as TNC connectors for antennas. Digi routers offer drop-in deployment with simple, secure remote control.

PTC message routing and wireless communications use a Mobile Communications Package (MCP) featuring an integrated assembly that houses the Digi WR44 RR, 220 MHz TDMA radio, power supply and RF filters. Functioning as the integral communications hub in locomotives and rail cars, Digi WR44 RR relays data messages to and from waysides via 220 MHz radio, and enables system maintenance, configuration and network management over a cellular link.

Another key component to help maintain both device and network health is supplied by Digi Remote Manager®. It gives you a single, secure platform to access data and manage IoT devices from anywhere. Digi Remote Manager also enables effective and efficient control to keep PTC deployments on track – edit configurations, update firmware, and monitor, schedule and automate tasks – all from a central location.

Today, transit agencies can leverage both existing LTE, LTE-Advanced and evolving 5G international standards for mission critical applications and services over commercial cellular networks. The services can be built on protocols and mechanisms that guarantee priority and preemption for voice, video and data, to meet the needs of the new First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and enable better device interoperability across different agencies.

Protecting Citizens and Critical Infrastructure

With this new and evolving technology, first responder vehicles, traffic and transit systems will be able to utilize specialized on-board cellular mobile access routers as network gateways that securely bridge local subnets to agency systems. Agencies seeking to deploy these routers will need to understand how to evaluate them for reliability, ruggedness and security along with ensuring forward compatibility as new public safety applications emerge. Note that Digi Professional Services can provide assistance with implementation, installation and other needs.

Mission critical services are being deployed in stages. Fortunately, the structural network technology used for priority voice, video and data is currently in place. Bandwidth on shared or reserved spectrum can be allocated for priority access using dedicated bearers with associated quality-of-service levels. Transit agencies that deploy equipment compatible with these structural capabilities can take advantage of the priority data services available today, and then efficiently layer future services such as group video calls with simple firmware upgrades.

Due to advances in network equipment and services, most buses have an on-board cellular router that functions as a communications gateway for the various systems. A bus has become a mobile data center of sorts. Central dispatchers can coordinate the bus fleet through transmission of location and voice communications. Voice communications are increasingly implemented using IP technologies, Voice over IP (VoIP) or Voice over LTE (VoLTE). As a result, these systems are mission critical and need to run over a fail-safe communications network. In this recent whitepaper, Making the Connection in Transportationread how transit operators can consolidate cellular connectivity for smart, safe, and more efficient operations.

As always, passenger safety and security are the chief concerns of all transit agencies. There are few on-board systems more important in this area than the mobile access router – the method of communication that links the entire chain of command. The recent standards developments are just now enabling deployment of mobile access routers having forward compatibility with the many new services envisioned for mission critical applications. Reliable communications for all on-board systems ensures a safe environment is maintained and that authorities are promptly notified of any incidents.

The new Digi WR64 transit router is designed for mission critical communications, with support for priority, pre-emption and failover to backup networks. This is critical for coordinated dispatch and reliable location tracking following an incident when cellular networks may be overloaded, in order to expedite the arrival of emergency response teams. Additionally, multiple transit applications can be combined on a single communication platform. GPS, vehicle tracking, on-board payment systems, ticket kiosks and more can be managed with one router. By consolidating vehicle connectivity, agencies can improve operational efficiency and effectiveness while helping extend the life of transit assets.

Related white paper: Making the Connection in Transportation: How Transit Operators Can Consolidate Cellular Connectivity for Smarter, Safer, and More Efficient Operations.

 

The New Standard for Dual Redundant Communications

Digi WR64 Cellular Router

Passengers today demand a faultless on-board Internet experience. And with so many transportation options available, transit organizations must provide seamless Wi-Fi to retain and grow their ridership. Meanwhile, agencies must also be able to integrate vehicle data from engines, logistics programs, fare collection, security cameras, even digital signage – all while maintaining the highest level of security and reliability with a suite of cybersecurity features: Digi TrustFence®, a data privacy and device security framework, IPsec VPNs and dual concurrent cellular links.

Digi WR64 meets these complex simultaneous needs with dual CAT 11 cellular modules and dual high-speed Wi-Fi radios so that transit agencies can securely segment private data from public data, and deliver an Internet experience that keeps riders coming back. Internet access for riders is managed separately without impacting on-board communications systems.



The Future of Transit Connectivity


Digi designs and manufactures industrial-grade communications equipment used in transportation and transit systems around the world. The newest member of the family is Digi WR64, a mobile access router with the latest cellular, WLAN and GPS technology. This high-performance router is designed to meet the complex requirements of the transit industry and other demanding applications that must meet strict operating standards, without disruption. While the new Digi WR54 is a compact general purpose router for transportation and public safety applications.

Digi cellular routers, servers, adapters and gateways support critical and emerging needs in rail, bus, traffic, emergency response, energy and smart cities. They enable connectivity to standards-based and proprietary equipment, assets, IoT devises and sensors – to ensure reliable communications over virtually every form of wireless or wired system. An integrated remote management platform helps speed deployments using highly efficient network operation for mission critical functions such as mass configuration and firmware updates, including system-wide monitoring with dashboards, alarms and performance metrics.

The future of transit belongs to agencies, operators and authorities that can leverage smart, secure and cost-efficient connectivity to improve the rider experience, lower costs and improve safety and performance. With cellular routers like Digi WR64 and Digi WR54, organizations can consolidate remote connectivity and simplify their infrastructures.

Steve Mazur, Digi Business Development Director, will be hosting a round table at Smart Transit in Philadelphia, October 23-25. Visit our Events page for more information.

Introducing Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE‑M/NB‑IoT

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Last week, we released Digi XBee3™ Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT, a single SKU that provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with a simple way to integrate low-power narrow-band cellular connectivity into their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This latest addition to the Digi XBee3 lineup combines global connectivity, built-in security, and design flexibility for IoT applications.

Digi XBee3 Cellular smart modems accelerate time to market for product designers, OEMs, and solution providers by quickly enabling wireless connectivity and easy-to-add functionality. Building on industry-leading technology, pre-certified Digi XBee3 modules offer the flexibility to switch between multiple frequencies and wireless protocols, as needed.

Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT expands the Digi XBee Ecosystem of wireless modules, gateways, software and development tools — all engineered to accelerate development and deployment to market. Ideal for low-data (typically <5 MB per month and where latency is not critical), low-power, low-cost applications, Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT modules feature a power saving mode that extends sleep time and battery life.

With Digi Remote Manager®, Digi XBee3 Cellular can be easily configured and controlled from a simple, central platform with over-the-air (OTA) updates. Built-in Digi TrustFence® security, identity and data privacy features use more than 175 controls to protect against new and evolving cyber threats. Standard Digi XBee API frames and AT commands, MicroPython and XCTU software tools simplify tasks such as set-up, configuration, adding functionality and testing.

>> Find more information and get started with the award-winning Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT.

Summit Envirosolutions Streamlines Data Processes with Wireless Sensors and Digi

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At our Global IoT Conference earlier this year, we sat down with local consulting firm Summit Envirosolutions to discuss the sophisticated, yet simple, information systems that gather and evaluate critical environmental data used to provide more insightful recommendations.

Focusing specifically on cultural, environmental and water resources, Summit resource management teams help clients better follow regulatory guidelines at local, state, and federal levels. John Dustman, a hydrogeologist with Summit, shared how everything from agriculture and mining to food processing and municipal supplies use our most valuable resource, water. This requires a certain level understanding, of course, but also demonstrates that groundwater can still be a big mystery to many. To find out more, watch the video:

With over 20 years of experience developing groundwater visualization tools, Summit combines the power of environmental science with data management tools to monitor the quality of water – and to enhance our understanding of physical, biological, and chemical relationships. Summit was also a collaborative developer of AQUILYTICS, software that uses continuous water level and flow rate data to perform hydrogeological tasks that were previously unavailable in any other software program.

Summit developed a protocol for acquiring telemetric data, and created an environmental/water supply database and corresponding graphical user interface to enable instantaneous access, querying, graphing and GIS visualization. “It’s like an MRI for a water well,” said Dustman, “and the ROI is almost immediate from a couple of perspectives.”

>> Read the full Summit customer success story to see how they streamlined the data collection process with Digi Connect Sensor+.

IoT Development with Wireless Communications: Getting Started

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Embarking on an IoT development project presents many questions that need to be answered — whether you have extensive experience in machine-to-machine communications or you are just starting out. This enormously fast growing field offers a growing selection of supporting components and connectivity methods, and for developers it can feel like the landscape changes daily. In this post we’ll lay some groundwork to help make sense of it all, and talk about the key things to consider as you are preparing to launch an IoT development project.

While we may not be able to completely mitigate the overwhelm factor, we can certainly help to highlight the important considerations that drive decision making and provide resources for getting answers.

Wireless Technology in IoT Product Design

At the heart of the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is wireless technology, made possible via RF or radio frequency. This technology enables devices to communicate with another without being physically connected. With its roots in the early 20th century, RF technology is not new. But it has grown to include cellular devices and other advances, keeping in stride with an enormous demand for new consumer and industrial applications.

Technological enhancements that support this incredible growth include the speed and bandwidth of the underlying networks, extended battery life of IoT devices, broader capabilities of wireless communication protocols, and more secure management of devices and networks. These advancements have allowed a significant number of industries to replace expensive, and often unreliable, wired communication with wireless communication.

Wireless communication in smart city applicationsMillions of miniature wireless devices — sensors and radio modules — now gather and send data in a vast array of environments from smart cities to manufacturing facilities and other industrial settings, and deliver that data faster than you can blink.

To manage it all, cloud applications such as Digi Remote Manager® allow network administrators to monitor the health and security of their devices from a central console, update the firmware of many devices with one command, automate security monitoring, and get notified quickly in the event of a problem anywhere those devices are deployed, worldwide.

That said, how do you get started designing and developing a successful IoT or IIoT product? While there’s far too much to cover in a single blog post, we can talk about some of the key things you will need to know if you are going to develop a product incorporating wireless technology.

Oh, and we have exciting news: Digi has an upcoming guide to all the concepts and important considerations in wireless communications for IoT product design. Sign up now to get notified of its release.



Key Considerations for Wireless Design in IoT

Launching a wireless design project can be daunting. You need on-staff expertise, supporting professional services, or both, to define your requirements, design and develop your IoT product, and ensure that it will pass testing and certification to meet your time-to-market promise. You will need to carefully assess the costs involved in building your product against your go-to-market pricing and ROI goals. And you will need to ensure that you have a strategy for secure device operation.

The considerations vary by the type of application, and there is no one-size-fits-all process. For example, an industrial tank sensor and a wearable device that reports heart metrics are both IoT applications, but with very different requirements. However, in most cases, the key considerations can be summarized as follows, regardless of the product parameters and its intended use.

Product Requirements

Be sure to take time to assess all of your product requirements. It is far too common for teams to launch the design process without taking the critical first step of accurately identifying the market needs, which can be a costly mistake. Some of the considerations in this phase include:

  1. Market and use case: What is the intended use for the finished product? How much data does it need to process, and how fast? Are you solving a real business problem with the product? Time to market is also a key consideration, as market opportunities can be short lived before other competitors fill the space.
  2. Target price: How will you price your product against any competing products? You want to ensure that you can build sell your product within that market’s price expectations.
  3. Physical placement: How and where will the product be used? For example, will your IoT product be placed in a stable location, such as a medical facility, warehouse or industrial tank? Or will it be on a moving vehicle such as a bus, or perhaps worn by a cyclist or runner?
  4. Geographic location: Where in the world do you want to sell the product? This will affect several design decisions, your entire go-to-market strategy, and the types of certifications required.

Wireless Connectivity and Range

There are several questions to answer in the process of determining your IoT product connectivity requirements:

  1. How will the product connect and transmit data? Will the product have access to a reliable wireless connection, and will it need to communicate over Wi-Fi or cellular for best performance? This decision has several ramifications. For example, a Wi-Fi network will need a gateway for data routing, and local technical support personnel, while a cellular network is maintained by the carrier and requires less maintenance, but it will require a data plan. Note that you can also enable both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.
  2. Will the deployment location have structures or objects that can obstruct the signal, or will it be deployed in a remote area?  For example, are you developing an industrial IoT product to be deployed deep in a mine or on a remote oil derrick? If so, you will need a strategy for managing connectivity issues.
  3. What type of antenna will you need to support your connectivity requirements? Antenna requirements are based on several factors including the wireless range needed, size of the device, its location and placement, the radio hardware and wireless communication protocol, and whether the device is indoors or outdoors.

Battery Life

Determining whether your IoT product will be wireline powered or battery powered is a significant decision and involves several considerations. The type and location of the device will help to determine whether it should be rechargeable, or whether it is more important to design for proactive battery management to support long battery life. For example, you would expect to regularly recharge most cellular devices, such as wearables, but a device that monitors a remote industrial tank would require a battery that needs to be changed out infrequently. Another key consideration in IoT development is that some wireless protocols are better suited to battery-powered devices than others.

Certifications and Time-to-market

Wireless products have certification requirements based on the region(s) in the world in which they are deployed. For example, in the U.S., wireless products must pass FCC and cellular certifications. Other regions have different requirements, and you will need to meet them all if you want to market your product worldwide, or in multiple regions. This process can be arduous if you have not planned and designed your product with knowledge of the various certification requirements in mind. On the other hand, planning for certification, and even starting with pre-certified communication modules, can dramatically reduce the time, cost and pain involved in moving through the certification process.

Building your product using a pre-certified module and designing your product for rapid certification can also help speed your time-to-market. IoT product developers often struggle with the question of whether to build their product from the ground up or start with pre-built components. If you have plenty of time and your application’s end-user cost is more important than time-to-market, you may want to build. If you need to get to market quickly to release a competitive or in-demand product, building your IoT application based on pre-certified modules will likely give you more advantage.

Launching Your Product Design

Once you have determined your IoT product requirements in detail, and ensured that you have a feasible product that meets a market requirement, you are finally ready to embark upon your product design. The electrical design of a wireless product includes the layout of your PCB, considerations around isolation of your RF signal, impedance matching, types and locations of ports and connectors, and power supply. To make these determinations, you will need to have an experienced RF engineer and mechanical engineer on staff, or have the ability to consult with a professional RF design services team to create the board layout and ensure component decisions match the product requirements.

As a best practice, consider performing a feasibility study to ensure your design plan is going to work, and start by prototyping the product to learn about any obstacles you may encounter in your final design. Resolving these issues in the prototyping phase of your project can save an enormous amount of time and cost, and ensure that you get to market on schedule.

Design and Build Resources

Digi offers a wide range of solutions for every aspect of your wireless product design process, from a complete suite of product components, to professional design services that can support your design, feasibility, certification, testing, security and deployment requirements, to documentation and Knowledge Base articles. To learn more about Digi’s end-to-end solutions for IoT development, contact Digi today.

>>Be sure to sign up to get notified of the release of our upcoming guide, Wireless Communication Basics: A conceptual guide to RF technology for IoT.

Cellular Simplified: Introducing the Digi XBee3 LTE-M/NB-IoT Smart Modem

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With over 10 million modules deployed, Digi XBee® is the world’s #1 choice for embedded wireless connectivity. With the introduction of Digi XBee3™ Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT, Digi has simplified the task of integrating the latest LTE and low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology into IoT devices. What makes LTE-M/NB-IoT such a great fit for wirelessly connecting a wide range of applications? Here are six good reasons:

  • Low Power Consumption – Most devices can last years with Power Savings Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX).
  • Greater Coverage – Cellular networks are nearing almost complete coverage and are suitable for indoor and outdoor deployments.
  • Enhanced Security – Digi TrustFence® provides a tested and fully integrated security framework designed for the industrial IoT. The built-in security of Digi TrustFence gives you secure connections, authenticated boot, encrypted data storage, secure JTAG, secure software updates, and TLS v1.2 for secure over-the-air data transmissions.
  • Efficient Data Transfer – Enabled by small, intermittent blocks of data
  • Network Availability – As carriers continue to build out their networks to the furthest and remotest areas, there are fewer limits to where you can deploy.
  • Decreasing Costs – Many carriers are rolling out data plans expressly targeting the unique nature of IoT devices, making cellular connectivity a far more affordable option.

Another good reason is how easy it is to integrate with AWS IoT Core. Digi international is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner, and the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT is a smart cellular modem that is AWS verified to work with AWS IoT. With built-in Digi TrustFence® security, MicroPython programmability, MQTT connectivity, and TLS 1.2 encryption and bi-directional authentication – make it easy to connect to AWS IoT Core. Watch the video below to see everything included in the kit and for a step-by-step tutorial on connecting Digi XBee3 Cellular directly to AWS IoT Core.

Digi XBee3 offers the largest selection of global protocols and frequencies, with one-socket-simplicity, to connect IoT networks around the world. Simple software tools enable the convenience to connect to locally or remotely configured devices. The Digi XBee3 form factor can future-proof designs with ongoing connectivity to new technologies as they emerge, giving product designers flexibility to swap out radios for different regions of the globe. Digi XBee3 allows customers to accelerate time to market and minimize costs with the right combination of easy-to-use hardware, software, and a library of helpful resources. Digi XBee3 modules also share a common API and AT command set allowing customers to substitute one module for another, or event switch protocols with minimal development time and risk. And if that isn’t enough, you can embed your own custom logic using the popular MicroPython environment.

Digi Remote Manager®

Sidestep the frustrations, roadblocks, and pitfalls of RF projects thanks to Digi Remote Manager, multiplatform, intuitive application that lets you easily set up, configure, test, and deploy Digi XBee3 modules. Digi Remote Manager along with XCTU includes all of the software tools you need to get up and running with Digi XBee3—fast.

Digi XBee® Ecosystem™

Furthermore, the Digi XBee® Ecosystem™ offers a full range of hardware, software, and resources to quickly bring connectivity to devices. From a full library of technical documentation and articles to the largest collection of Digi XBee projects on the Web, you can draw inspiration from a broad range of useful examples, guides, videos, and tutorials for your next idea. Whether you’re just learning about wireless communication and Digi XBee3 or you’re an experienced developer, you can consult the Digi Knowledge Base for IoT information and tips—and the Digi Forum where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members in the community. From prototyping to end-to-end connectivity solutions, count on Digi XBee Ecosystem examples, guides, tips, libraries, and software tools for guidance.

>>Download the new whitepaper Advantages of Digi XBee3 Cellular for more information on the key advantages of this cellular solution.

How to Pick the Right 4G LTE Technology for Your Business Needs and Applications

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With the shutdown of 2G and 3G networks looming on the horizon, many organizations are faced with the difficult question of “So, what’s next?” The key question to really ask is, “Well, what is the application?” Meaning, what is the current or projected use case and how will it be impacted by the new LTE technology. In addition, ask yourself where are you today and where do you want to be in five years; and most importantly, what business problems are you trying to solve with the new network capabilities?

You’ll soon find there are many items associated with those key business and technology questions that need to be further analyzed:

  • Bandwidth: determine whether you need data transferred in bursts or as a steady feed over time; and decide if you need to transfer only a few bytes or several GB each day.
  • Data Plan: evaluate if data will be needed in real time, or if a several second, minute or hour delay is tolerable, and choose the most economical plan.
  • Connectivity: decide if your organization’s communication requirement is to be localized across a building, plant, or a city – or even across a country or worldwide. Consider whether you must always remain online, and if downtime could put you at the risk of lost revenue, regulatory penalties or safety violations.
  • Environmental: assess whether your equipment will be in a climate-controlled environment or outdoors in harsh, even hazardous settings. Determine if AC power will be available, or if battery or solar power is the only option.
  • What about 5G? Finally, weigh the pros and cons of waiting for 5G. Do you want to take on a bleeding-edge technology in its initial stages, or would you rather rely on a proven leading-edge technology like 4G? Will a bleeding edge technology make your application or its output better? Keep in mind that 4G is also evolving into 5G over time.

Today, we are at a fork in the road. One path can leverage Gigabit LTE for high-speed applications in retail, enterprise or transportation industries that need to connect sites or people with mains-powered, high bandwidth – and higher cost – solutions. The other path can leverage 4G LTE optimized for IoT applications in industrial locations to connect machines and other critical assets that require low bandwidth, low cost, and low- or battery-power as indicated by the chart below.

4G LTE Evolution for IoT

Each 4G LTE technology has its pros and cons, while carriers considering a roll out of LTE-M or NB-IoT as a secondary network only adding to the complexity. Here’s a deeper dive into the technology options for IoT devices:

  • CAT 1: represents a good fit for many single-device IoT applications with mains-power, such as digital signage and kiosks, industrial controllers and security cameras. It is globally available where LTE is accessible.
  • CAT 3/4: with the potential of speeds up to 100-150 Mbps, this technology is designed for IoT routers connecting multiple devices. However, it may be excessive for most single-device IoT applications.
  • CAT-M/LTE-M: fits traditional 2G-type applications, devices that require mobility, such as asset trackers, as well as battery-powered IoT sensors. Defined in 2016, it is not yet fully globally available, but is predominant in North and Latin American and Asian markets with early LTE adoption.
  • NB-IoT: best fit for battery-powered devices that do not require mobility, such as fixed-asset sensors. Also defined in 2016, it is not globally available as this time, but suits markets with late LTE adoption, like Europe.

4G LTE Evolution for Gigabit LTE

Now let’s go down the other path with a look at Gigabit LTE and the 4G evolution to 5G.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaborative group of telecommunications associations that defines the standards to build the foundation of cellular networks, such as LTE.

Since its initial release in 2008, LTE (Long Term Evolution) has evolved, and continues to evolve towards 5G over time. Typically, 3GPP releases a major update of the standard every three years, followed by a minor release. To differentiate between major LTE releases, 3GPP introduced marketing names such as LTE-Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro. Release 13/14 were a key milestone for Gigabit LTE because the speed doubled to 1.2Gbps. Release 15, to be released later in 2018, will be the first standard defining 5G.

Source: Telit

 

Four Requirements to Achieve Gigabit LTE Speeds

1. More RF channels and carrier aggregation: think multiple highways to transport more vehicles. Gives you better us of the available spectrum, as many carriers don’t have 20 MHz of licensed spectrum per band available.

  • Higher peak data rates
  • More capacity for bursts of usage
Source: Qualcomm

2. Higher-order modulation (HOM) (see Figure #2): think of a bus versus a car to transport more people (i.e., data) per vehicle, where the cellular network and device are constantly adjusting the modulation based on signal conditions. The downside of HOM is that a noisy or weak signal is harder to demodulate, which can result in retransmissions and lower speeds.

  • 16-QAM: 4 bits/symbol
  • 64-QAM: 6 bits/symbol, 25% improvement over QAM-16
  • 256-QAM: 8 bits/symbol, 33% improvement over QAM-64
  • 1024-QAM: 10 bits/symbol, 25% improvement over QAM-256.

3. More MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antennas: think multi-lane highway with traffic moving on two directions (using multiple antennas to both transmit and receive data in parallel). Most devices today have two antennas per cellular modem, while Gigabit LTE devices will require four antennas to achieve higher speeds. For many devices, this means moving from direct-attach to cabled antennas.

4. More spectrum: the use of licensed, shared or unlicensed spectrum (3.5GHz/5GHz) for additional bandwidth now includes License Assisted Access (LAA) and Citizens Broadband Radio system (CBRS).

  • Citizens Broadband Radio System (CBRS)
    1. As of April 2015, the FCC authorized shared commercial access of the 3.5GHz band with incumbent military radars and fixed satellite stations
    2. The CBRS spectrum is assigned individually by Spectrum Allocation Server (SAS), 3 priority access levels
  • MulteFire
    1. MulteFire Alliance is a new industry alliance promoting private networks based on LTE technology
    2. MulteFire scales from LTE for IoT to Gigabit LTE
    3. It is not part of any 3GPP standard yet, but is considered for Rel. 16
    4. MulteFire could someday replace Wi-Fi networks

Private LTE networks provide new opportunities for either enterprises to deploy secure communication for increased flexibility and added security, or for the Industrial IoT (IIoT) to build a private network, for example in remote farming or mining sites to run industrial IoT devices and applications.

4G LTE Advanced Pro is here today and paving the way to 5G as outlined above. Though, you will not see Gigabit LTE speeds right away. You can expect speeds above 100 Mbps under good conditions on licensed LTE networks. Even higher speeds will become possible where unlicensed spectrum and infrastructure become available.

Cellular Routers to be Critical for Public Safety Communications

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The National Public Safety Broadband Network is the nation’s first cellular broadband network dedicated to public safety. It will be providing more reliable communication for first responders by enabling better device interoperability across public transportation agencies throughout the United States. This new technology will allow agencies to utilize purpose-built transit cellular routers as a means to improve communications. Continue reading to see why fail-safe interoperable network is critical.

Public Safety Challenge

The public safety challenge is to protect citizens and critical infrastructure so that incidents can be mitigated faster with a more coordinated response. And the role of public transportation is only increasing as cities grow larger and denser, as an urban incident will require coordinated dispatch, and perhaps even evacuation. Traffic systems will also be a key element to incident resolution in order to expedite the arrival of response teams and direct traffic flow around the incident, which may necessitate remote access to onboard or roadside cameras and message boards.

However, commercial networks can crash when overloaded and legacy mobile radio networks are not always compatible, which is why a fail-safe interoperable network is required for emergency group communication, multi-media transmission of video, images and data; plus, reliable location tracking, economies of scale and the ability to interconnect with legacy systems also come into play.

Cellular-based Communication Solutions

The Public Safety Broadband Network is leveraging both existing LTE and advancing 5G international standards for mission critical services over commercial cellular networks. The services are built on new protocols and mechanisms that guarantee priority and preemption for voice, video and data, and will include push-to-talk, group calls and direct mobile-to-mobile. First responder vehicles, traffic control and transit system will now be able to utilize cellular mobile access routers as network gateways that securely bridge local subnets to agency systems. Agencies will need to know how to evaluate routers for ruggedness and security, along with forward compatibility as new public safety applications emerge.

How to Select a Router for First Responder Applications

Is your organization ready to take advantage of mission-critical cellular networking capabilities? Join our Director of Government Business Development, Steve Mazur, and Vice President of Application Engineering of Telit to learn what factors to look for in first responder cellular communication solutions: why speed matters, the role of cellular communications, and how to measure ruggedness and security in cellular devices.

>>See more details and register today.

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