A road sign that tells you when it has fallen down

February 15, 2017News

Mats Lindoff from Combain started the first Smart Cities Square where he talked about connected devices in the smart city.

As it was hosted at Mobile Heights Center, there were many questions and thoughts on which technology is the best to use for connected devices, LoRaWAN, wifi and others were debated.

“How many traffic signs are there in Malmö? 50 000-60 000, they are not really sure. So it is a good business idea to keep track of the signs, right?” Mats Lindoff started off by talking about the costs of monitoring and maintenance for road signs. Instead of using resources to drive around and do inventory, why not let the sign tell you if it is still in place, if it has fallen down and maybe what the temperature is near the sign? To be able to do this, a small sensor is placed on each sign. Using LoRa* technology, over 40 000 devices can communicate with one base station. To be
able to cover the Municipality of Helsingborg, 4 base stations are needed. The battery life is long, at least 10 years, depending on how often the sensor is to broadcast its message.

Questions from the meeting

Arne Hansson from Ideon was the moderator for the meeting and he had the first question:
Is it your vision to build an ecosystem around this solution?

“Yes, we want to build a nationwide system, but the first application are for traffic signs. Moving forward we want to be able to add more devices.” The audience suggested connecting waste bins so that they are emptied as needed, not according to a schedule.

Why LoRa* instead of wifi?

Because the technology is here, it works now. We can definitely use other technologies in the future, but we want to use what works right now. We get greater coverage with LoRa, up to 10 km, compared to 100 meters with wifi.

Isn’t it possible for me to vandalise the sign and steal the sensor?

Yes, it is possible. But then we’d know about it as it is a connected device.

Do you think that smaller municipalities are prepared to buy signs like these?

I think it is like with everything else, it depends on the business case. We are looking into providing “traffic sings as a service” later on.

Arne: Perhaps you should start where they are building a new town or district, like Kiruna or Brunnshög.

Join us at the next Smart Cities Square

The next Smart Cities Square meeting is on March 15, 08:30-09:00 at Mobile Heights Center.

Find out more about Combain
* LoRa stands for Long Range Radio. It is the wireless technology mainly targetted for M2M and IoT networks.  Ref : https://www.lora-alliance.org