ITHACA, NY – A community gathering to discuss the formation of a free and open device-oriented wireless data network for the Ithaca area will be held Tuesday, July 12 in the Borg Warner Room at the Tompkins County Public Library beginning at 5:30.
Often called “the Internet of Things” (IoT), the emerging intelligent network of mechanical devices such as switches and sensors is widely regarded as the next stage in the evolution of internet technology.
IoT uses go far beyond the “intelligent home” concept to include critical applications in agriculture, weather forecasting, medical telemetry, and a wide variety of other cases in which some set of remote devices or processes must be monitored and managed.
The interesting public policy question is whether the part of the IoT system that connects the device to the internet will be publicly owned or rather provided by a company like Verizon Wireless or Google — which may make it free but will then own the data.
An international initiative called The Things Network (TTN), headquartered in Amsterdam, seeks to use a low-power, low-bandwidth wireless industry standard called LoRaWAN to put in place an IoT infrastructure that will initially be owned and implemented at low cost by technically inclined volunteers (http://www.thethingsnetwork.org/).
With a signaling radius of up to 10 km per installation and very low internet bandwidth requirements, it doesn’t take many of these installations to cover an area the size of Tompkins County, and at an installed cost of roughly $1,500 per location, the cost is within the reach of crowd-sourced community funding.
“With Cornell University, the well-known green emphasis of the city and the surrounding agricultural communities, and the local high-tech scene, Ithaca is ideally positioned to convert the innovative potential created by The Things Network into new applications and use cases that will be useful world-wide,” said Wienke Giezeman, Initiator of The Things Network.
The TTN initiative has been in place only since 2015, but participants already include more than 150 communities worldwide that provide free, unlimited internet access to any number of devices. Ithaca will be the second municipality in the United States to build a LoRaWAN network, right after New York City (https://thethings.nyc/).
The local project is being driven by Terrill Moore, owner of MCCI in Trumansburg and leader of the TTN initiative in NYC. This meeting is intended to introduce the public to the TTN concept and recruit volunteers for the initial buildout.
“MCCI is proud to be taking a leadership role in sponsoring the efforts to launch The Things Network in Ithaca and Tompkins County,” said Moore. “This allows us to extend our strategy of standards-based connectivity into wireless applications, and at the same time stimulate the adoption of IoT and Smart City technologies in our home town. The more vibrant the tech community is in the Finger Lakes, the better it is for MCCI and MCCI team members.”
A whitepaper on the LoRaWAN technology is available from the LoRa Alliance at http://www.lora-alliance.org/portals/0/documents/whitepapers/LoRaWAN101.pdf
(featured photo by ITU Pictures on Flickr)