Demystifying Technology: IoT Communications, Conclusion

IoT - Internet of Things
© jirsak –

Overall Architecture


There are 3 main network topologies used by IoT devices:







Point-to-point is used to connect only two devices together, usually within a very short distance. 


Mesh network

Each node can act as a wireless data endpoint or repeater, typically used for home automation.


Star network

Relies on a router, access point or gateway between the endpoints and the application server.


Most industrial long-range technologies use a star network topology with a similar structure:

  1. Endpoints: Battery powered devices connecting over wireless connection (e.g., LoRa)
  2. Gateway: Receiving data from endpoint, sending to network server using Internet Protocol (IP)
  3.  Network server: On-premises (e.g., ChirpStack) or cloud-based (e.g., TTN)
  4.  Application server: Processing received data and acting upon (e.g., send push notifications)


Example: ISEC7 SPHERE IoT Architecture
Example: ISEC7 SPHERE IoT Architecture

Determining Factors

The best technology is the one that best fits your own needs and requirements. For example, a door sensor in your house will not require the same bandwidth nor power as a 24/7 surveillance IP camera at an airport, or a GPS tracking device on a shipping container.


However, determining the right technology for your needs comes down to a combination of three factors:


1.       Range


o   Distance from the central node (10 feet, 10 miles, etc.)

o   Static vs. motion? Roaming?


2.       Power consumption


o   Plugged vs. battery powered


3.       Data rate


o   Payload size

o   Required network bandwidth

o   Acceptable network latency


Use cases


There are thousands of use cases out there with the endless increase of IoT device integrations in sectors like industry, transportation, healthcare, and law enforcement:




#1 – Apartment Complex Video Surveillance


A gated community wants to deploy IP video cameras for 24x7 surveillance inside the premises. Data will be streamed to a secured back-end server located in the building maintenance room for both backup and display in real-time to a mobile device or computer using a web browser or dedicated app with dedicated credentials. Building and street pedestrian entrances, as well as private common areas like swimming pools or parking lots need to be covered, but with as little cabling as possible for aesthetic reasons (no existing pipe to funnel them). Power sockets can be made available to power the cameras using existing electrical wiring.




Recommendation: Wi-Fi, due to the high amount of data being sent wirelessly over a rather short distance.



Apartment Complex Video Surveillance


#2 – Asset Tracking


A shipping company wants to GPS track their shipping containers in real-time along its delivery route by either boat, truck, or railway. They also want to have extra information like container inner temperature, humidity, open/closed door, etc.




Recommendation: In this scenario, NB-IoT or LTE-M would clearly be the best option, as a monitored device will be in-motion, having to transmit data over a long range from any location in the world (roaming) in real-time. In some cases, the device itself might also use another technology like LoRaWAN or Bluetooth to connect to other local devices and collect data from them (e.g., temperature or door sensors attached to the container).



Asset Tracking


#3 Mall Smart Parking


A mall wants to implement a new smart parking solution to make the car parking process easier for their customers, advising them on big screens, in real-time, of available parking spaces on each floor of the garage. Battery-powered sensors in the ground will be used to determine whether a lot/space is available (no car parked) or not (car parked), send the information to a back-end server that will process the data, and send it to the screens located on every floor.




Recommendation: In this scenario, both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT could be viable solutions as both have deep indoor penetration. Since IoT devices are static, used locally, and send payload often (thus requiring higher refresh rates), LoRaWAN might be the best option. Although a dedicated LoRa gateway will need to be deployed, device management will be easier than having to provision all devices with eSIM (for NB-IoT) and manage those subscriptions with a wireless provider(s).



Smart Parking in a Mall


While there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to IoT communications, you should select technology that covers your use-cases, even if it’s more than one. An IoT aggregator like ISEC7 SPHERE IoT can help, ISEC7 SPHERE IoT can be configured to monitor and alert on your sensors across all your IoT deployments, manage those sensors and more importantly provide interoperability to your preexisting solutions for alerting, ticket creation, or even a crisis communication solution.


We are pleased to offer this new solution and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about ISEC7 SPHERE IoT. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like assistance in reviewing your IoT communications options.


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(C) Rémi Frédéric Keusseyan, Global Head of Training, ISEC7 Group