“Smart cities” is indeed a staple expression in today’s IoT world, but have you ever heard about “smart villages”? Well, they exist, they are great, and they excellently showcase how versatile IoT technology is and how much it can benefit the world at large.
Through the SOM project and enabled by Future By Lund, Smarta Byar (Smart Villages) was born in Swedish Veberöd. Smarta Byar is the brainchild of Jan Malmgren, and the project aims to better village citizens’ lives using the latest IoT technology.
The SOM project
The SOM project, or Smarta Offentliga Miljöer (Smart Public Environments), was born through cooperation between Malmö city and Lund city and a wide range of local businesses. The project aims to make these cities smarter by evaluating and testing IoT technologies and solutions in public environments. Sensative installed a LoRaWAN network in Lund to enable local IoT devices to communicate on a reliable and versatile protocol. Some use cases have been to monitor parking spots, trash bins, traffic flow, soil conditions, and plenty more through IoT sensors from different Swedish manufacturers.
Smarta Byar / Smart Villages
The Smart Villages project was born out of Veberöd local Jan Malmgren’s passion for making lives better for his fellow residents in the village. It started with Malmgren developing an app where the citizens of Veberöd could discuss ideas, issues and cooperate to realize local projects. A while later, Malmgren heard that the SOM project had led to a LoRaWAN network established in Lund, and he quickly joined the project to see what IoT could do for his village.
Through the SOM project, Malmgren found financial support for his testbed and expert help from other actors. In addition, many parties wanted to see how IoT would look in a village setting, and there was quickly a diverse mix of use cases developed in the somewhat unique environment that constitutes a village.
The Smart Villages project also volunteered their testbed to another project, CritiSec. CritiSec deals with IoT security for sensitive digital infrastructure, such as for a smart village where traffic, lights, electricity, and more become connected and vulnerable.
Through Sensative, a LoRaWAN gateway was installed in Veberöd, enabling Smarta Byar to realize their projects. Additionally, Sensative’s DiMS platform Yggio acts as the central data collecting layer for the smart village, making the data actionable.
Unga Smarta Byar / Young Smart Villages
Smart Villages is rapidly developing and branching out. One of the more recent projects is Young Smart Villages (Unga Smarta Byar). IoT courses have been established at a local school to encourage IoT activity and inspire new generations of digital innovators. The focus of the studies rests around sustainability on both social and environmental levels to find solutions to modern and forthcoming challenges – Public transportation, renewable energy, and the school environment are some of the areas that the students have explored so far.
A digital twin of Veberöd
To truly lay the foundation for an IoT village, Smart Villages developed a 3D model of Veberöd, also known as a digital twin. Digital twins are typically used to digitally visualize data and simulate real-life scenarios, producing the scenario to see any challenges or opportunities before realizing the project. In this case, Smarta Byar wanted a complete view of Veberöd to be able to view developments digitally in real-time. They started by mapping the village from above via a drone, which LTH (Faculty of Engineering) in Lund helped make a 3D model of. When the 3D model was complete, Sensative helped extract data from our API to map all the sensors around the village. Now, Smart Villages shows all sensor activity in real-time at the “IoT lab” which Malmgren has set up in the village. Apart from displaying the digital twin in the “lab,” the municipality has the opportunity to see when issues arise. If a citizen reports a problem, like a broken street light, the municipality can see if that issue has already been reported or remedied.
As mentioned earlier, the village use cases have been many and broad, dealing with everything from farmers to street lights. Below, we go through some of the cases that are a reality today or are in the works.
With its bountiful nature, Veberöd is home to many recreational outdoor areas that are very popular, especially during summer times with long treks and barbecuing. By implementing Sensative Strips MS +Comfort multi-sensors with humidity and temperature monitoring, Veberöd municipality can report in real-time on which barbecue areas citizens are using at the moment. The idea is simple and effective – When sensors detect high heat levels around one outdoor barbecue, one can assume that someone is actively using it.
Cattle water supply
The region of the most Southern Sweden, Skåne, is the main agricultural region of Sweden, and local farmers raise plenty of cattle. Cows need their water, which often is automatically pumped up to a trough where the cows drink.
The story goes that two times during the Swedish traditional Midsummer Eve, a certain farmer had to leave the party to fix the pump. The first time the farmer realized the pump’s malfunctioning, it was through cows breaking out of the pasture onto the roads in search of water.
During the other instance, Sensefarm’s humidity sensors were installed, connected to Sensative’s Yggio platform, to detect any lack of water. So, this time, an alarm was sent out when the pump malfunctioned, letting the farmer fix the pump before any cows ran away, leaving all parties to a hydrated Midsummer Eve.
By installing Sensative Strips MS +Comfort with the Yggio platform, Smarta Byar can collect data on heat levels in bus shelters. This data will inform the municipality which bus shelters that responsible parties need to improve for travelers’ comfort. On hot days, it is not uncommon to see travelers hiding behind the bus shelters to catch some shade, so this might inspire the local public transportation company to improve bus shelters in the region overall.
Together with Telia, another IoT operator in the region, and through NB-IoT, the municipality is trialing a type of bike tracking. The idea is that owners will be personally connected to their bikes, so when someone moves a bike without the owners’ phone is geolocated close to the bike, the system will send out an alarm to the owner and law enforcement. GPS tracking of vehicles is becoming increasingly popular, especially public ones like bikes or electric scooters for rent.
For as long as we can remember, pre-school gates have had chains and other security implementations that are too difficult for small children to open. This security measure works well overall, but it is certainly not foolproof. Smarta Byar has now installed Sensative Strips MS +Guard to monitor open/close on these gates. Pre-school staff can now monitor gate statutes in real-time through the Yggio platform, and the IoT platform can send out alarms when a gate is open for too long. This monitoring means less worry for the pre-school staff and a higher security level overall.
A project in the works is to monitor water quality in conjunction with local water utility company VA Syd. The idea is to see to what level, if any, the citizens or companies unintentionally pollute the water. If pollution is detected, then Smarta Byar and VA Syd will see how they can remedy it. Apart from water quality, they also want to see if citizens are using excessive amounts of water in any way. In any instances where citizens seem to waste water, the actors want to find new solutions and encourage citizens to be more modest with their usage.
School projects (Young Smart Villages)
Measure signal coverage
To try out the technology and do some investigative work, students wanted to see if the stated signal coverage between sensors and gateways lived up to their standards. Such a test is an excellent school project for getting into IoT.
Group room occupancy
Students wanted to monitor which group rooms for studying are accessible at the moment. Instead of manually checking each room, as we did in the pre-IoT days, students can implement presence sensors to detect and report in real-time if any students are actively using a space.
Sound level monitoring
Schools pretty much spell noise, with so many students at young ages. Students wanted to see what level the noise really is at. What if the noise level at times is above acceptable levels? Maybe it will be time to implement some noise-canceling solutions as an answer.
3D view of school
Inspired by the digital twin of Veberöd, students now want to develop a 3D model or digital twin of their school. When dealing with digital twins of buildings, digital blueprints of a building are used as the foundation for the 3D model, where sensors are placed out on the map, reporting their data in real-time.