Chips, Systems and Services
Huge opportunities exist today for implementing systems that build Smart Cities. From controlling energy waste to Smart Lighting and traffic control, IoT technologies including sensors, AI platforms, cloud services analog ICs and wireless connectivity products all have roles to play in Smart Cities.
In some ways, Smart Cities can be thought of as the ultimate form of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) at work. While IoT implementations in factories and agriculture can be fairly large scale, Smart Cities are inherently large-scale deployments often involving diverse public and private networks and stakeholders. Sub-segments of the Smart City include traffic control, public security, waste management, Smart Lighting and more.
Serving the needs of Smart City system developers, a wide range of technologies have emerged over the past 12 months, all useful for various large and small elements of Smart City networked systems. These range from box-level AI solutions and sophisticated IoT cloud services, to chip-level solutions for implementing LoRa wireless edge nodes and battery-powered IoT devices. Meanwhile, new concerns related to COVID-19 have increased the urgency for implementing many kinds of Smart City applications.
SMART ENTRANCE COUNTER
There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has created needs for special kinds of Smart City solutions. Governmental regulations all over the world have driven an urgent need for solutions to secure social distancing in public buildings in order to support slowing down the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, Infineon Technologies developed a system that counts people while entering and leaving buildings or rooms and ensures social distancing at the same time. The Smart Entrance Counter solution is a miniaturized, discrete radar board (20mm × 15mm) that accurately and anonymously counts people with one single 60GHz radar sensor and integrated software (Figure 1). A traffic light system informs whether an entry is allowed or not.
Infineon Technologies says its Smart Entrance Counter solution is a closed system. On one hand, it prevents overcrowding, on the other hand it enables businesses to keep their operations running. And most importantly, due to the use of radar technology, personal data are 100% protected. The system counts a person, but does not know who it is, says the company.
Infineon expects volumes for this kind of solution to amount to 90 million units globally. Infineon’s Smart Entrance Counter solution with XENSIV 60GHz radar sensor is contactless and can easily be installed on the side or ceiling of an entrance or exit. It can be implemented in all kinds of building types, such as public buildings, retail and grocery stores, restaurants, schools or corporate spaces—for example, cafes, offices and the like.
SECURE CONTACTLESS TRANSACTIONS
Large-scale contactless payment capability was already a key technology for Smart City applications, in mass transportation, for example. But new requirements for social distancing have amplified these demands. And the worldwide impact of COVID-19 makes contact-free transactions a necessity. Serving such needs, in June NXP Semiconductors announced its new MIFARE DESFire EV3 IC, a chip that provides advanced security and seamless integration of mobile services for a new era of security and connectivity in smart city services (Figure 2).
As the third evolution of NXP’s proven contactless MIFARE DESFire portfolio, the latest IC is backward compatible and offers enhanced performance with a greater operating distance and improved transaction speed. In combination with its advanced security features, the new IC delivers faster, more secure transactions that are truly contactless, such as paying for parking, accessing offices or campuses and using other essential city services—all touch-free.
NXP’s MIFARE product portfolio is used in Smart City installations worldwide. The new MIFARE DESFire EV3 IC builds upon the portfolio’s heritage of powering mass transit ticketing. An extensive set of security features in the MIFARE DESFire EV3 IC provide more ways to protect data and help ensure privacy. The IC hardware and software are certified to Common Criteria EAL 5+, and the IC supports a broad choice of open crypto algorithms. A card-generated MAC helps to securely authenticate transactions, and a new Transaction Timer feature helps mitigate man-in-the-middle attacks so it’s harder for an attacker to interfere with the transaction.
Meanwhile, the MIFARE DESFire EV3’s new Secure Unique NFC (SUN) messaging feature offers a more secure method for maintaining data confidentiality and integrity. Each time a card, phone or ticket is tapped with the SUN featured enabled, a tap-unique authentication message and crypto-secure URL are generated that can be sent to a server for verification, which makes taps unclonable.
Support for MIFARE DESFire EV3 will be integrated into NXP’s MIFARE 2GO cloud service, which manages digitized MIFARE product-based credentials and helps streamline mobile integration via NXP’s ecosystem. With this, Smart City services can be seamlessly deployed to NFC-enabled smartphones, wearables and other mobile devices.
For simplified deployment, each MIFARE DESFire EV3 IC is pre-configured with keys to enable delegated application management, which supports seamless, over-the-air updates to already deployed smart cards using NFC-enabled smartphones. In addition, NXP’s upcoming MIFARE Plus EV2 IC will provide a drop-in replacement for upgrading existing MIFARE Plus and MIFARE Classic product-based installations for higher security.
IoT PASSENGER COUNTING
Mass transit passenger counting had already been a popular emerging technology. But, as with so many other things, the COVID-19 era brings the importance of this capability to the forefront. Eurotech’s passenger counters, already installed on urban and intercity bus lines, allow accurate real-time passenger monitoring, remotely and onsite.
Eurotech’s technology was selected by Thales as a supplier of embedded hardware and IoT software for the CAVE project “Automatic Counting of Passengers” in some of the Grand Paris Express’ metro lines. In addition to using the power-over-Ethernet (PoE) version of Eurotech’s DynaPCN passenger counter, the solution is based on ESF (Everyware Software Framework) for the onboard software for data collection and remote configuration, and EC (Everyware Cloud) for the ground software to enable Société du Grand Paris to securely access passenger counting information and to use this data internally or by sharing it externally.
The DynaPCN 10-20 is a compact, low power, autonomous device based on non-contact stereoscopic vision technology (Figure 3). It has been specifically designed for passenger counting above the doorways in buses and trains. It can also be used to count people as they enter or leave buildings or any area with restricted access. Stereoscopic cameras capture images of the area below the device. Thanks to the integrated high luminosity infrared LED indicators, it can operate in any type of lighting condition. The extended temperature range capabilities allow integrators to use the device in a wide range of climatic conditions.
The DynaPCN 10-20 analyzes the height, shape and direction of any object passing the field of view. If the object is recognized as a person entering or leaving, the incoming and outgoing counters are incremented accordingly, along with time and date information. Data transfer is made via an Ethernet interface. The onboard insulated digital I/O interfaces can be used to directly communicate with intelligent doors or flow control systems, guaranteeing optimal functionality at all times. For example, it can stop counting when the doors are closed.
LoRa FOR CONNECTIVITY
Because of the inherent spread-out nature of Smart City network implementations, LoRa has emerged as a popular wireless connectivity technology for these applications. Over the past couple years, the release of LoRa (long range) chip solutions have accelerated as technology providers race to keep pace with demands. IoT networks based on the LoRaWAN specification have been deployed in 100 countries. For more on LoRa as a solution for Smart Cities, see the sidebar “LoRoWAN: A Foundational Network for Municipal IoT Solutions” at the end of this article.
In an example of a recent LoRa device, in August STMicroelectronics (ST) added a QFN48 package to its STM32WLE5 wireless system-on-Chip (SoC) portfolio. The STM32WLE5 combines ST’s STM32L4 ultra-low-power microcontoller (MCU) technology and Semtech SX126x sub-GHz radio IP optimized to meet local radio-equipment regulations worldwide (Figure 4). The chip’s single-silicon-die integration helps save bill-of-materials (BOM) costs and simplifies system designs. ST targets the device for use in connected, smart devices for applications in metering, city management, agriculture, retail, logistics, smart buildings and environmental management.
The STM32WLE5’s new 7mm × 7mm QFN48 package option makes it suited to a simplified two-layer board design that further eases manufacturing and reduces BOM costs. The STM32WLE5 supports multiple RF-modulation schemes including LoRa spread-spectrum modulation as well as the (G)FSK, (G)MSK and BPSK used by various sub-gigahertz long-range protocols including proprietary protocols. Users have flexibility to apply their desired protocol stack, whether created in-house, sourced externally or chosen from off-the-shelf software such as the LoRaWAN and wM Bus (wireless M-Bus) stacks that are available from ST and authorized partners.
ST has engineered the integrated RF stage to address global markets while improving performance and easing manufacture. Features include dual low-power (14dBm) and high-power (22dBm) transmitter modes with highly linear performance from 150MHz to 960MHz, spanning the sub-1GHz unlicensed frequency range, which ensures technical compatibility with RF regulations in all world markets. Sensitivity down to -148dBm helps to maximize RF range. Only a single crystal is needed to synchronize the high-speed external (HSE) clock and the radio, delivering a further savings in BOM.
The new QFN48 package extends the STM32WLE5 portfolio, which also includes devices in a 5mm × 5mm BGA73. Three different flash-memory density options are available per package, offering a choice of 64KB, 128KB or 256KB, and all devices feature a high proportion of user-assignable GPIOs. All feature ST’s ultra-low-power MCU technologies, including dynamic voltage scaling and proprietary adaptive real-time ART Accelerator that allows zero-wait execution from flash.
In order for LoRa wireless connectivity to be deployed on a large scale, cities need to put LoRa infrastructure technology into place. Feeding such needs, Semtech announced a collaboration with Nesten, a developer of specialized blockchain and IoT-based solutions for optimized communications networks. The effort supports the continued roll out of the Nesten’s LoRa-based node platform.
Following the successful 2019 deployment of its first-generation G1 wireless node based on Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol, Nesten has increased the integration of its LoRa-based wireless infrastructure in several key markets throughout the US and abroad, and has begun mass production of its node platform to empower individual IoT management.
Nesten’s G1 node is a wireless gateway enabling LoRa, Wi-Fi, GNSS and Bluetooth-based data communication in real time. Nesten recently announced the deployment of more than 270 G1 nodes throughout the Dallas metropolitan area, with additional LoRa-based infrastructure deployed across major markets in the US, including Houston, Georgia, California, the New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. suburbs, as well as select markets in Canada, Mexico and South Korea.
Nesten’s consumer-based deployment model enables end users to deploy their own flexible LoRa-based applications built on the G1 node, and operate and maintain their own IoT network without the associated costs traditionally found with telecom carriers. Leveraging the end user and blockchain as the cornerstone of each LoRa-based deployment, Nesten is also able to provide extensive data protection and privacy. Several IoT use cases currently utilize Nesten’s open-source LoRa-based infrastructure. These applications exist within a wide variety of vertical markets, including smart parking, personal emergency detection and pet tracking and geolocation, home security and more.
LoRa EXPRESSWAY APPLICATION
In an example of LoRa technology in action, in August Semtech announced that Korea Expressway Corp. (KEC) has built a network based on Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol for its expressways as the first stage in its ongoing four-year IoT deployment plan in the country (Figure 5).
Beginning in 2019, KEC deployed 78 LoRa-based gateways over 306km of expressway. Woojoo Telecom, a systems integrator and SK Telesys, a LoRa-based gateway manufacturer and network server provider, were selected as operators for this project, conducting communication tests on roads and in tunnels to establish the high-quality IoT network. Currently, the network offers many strategic functions including parking space and trash bin fill monitoring at rest areas, and real-time condition tracking for shock-absorbing barriers and guardrails.
In the coming years, KEC plans to expand the LoRa-based network’s applications to include landslip detectors, road-freezing sensors, electronic displays, fire extinguishers in tunnel and expressway lights. By continuing to migrate applications from legacy 3G/LTE connectivity to LoRaWAN, KEC expects to reduce operating cost by up to $2 million per year. LoRa devices and LoRaWAN networks cover hundreds of uses cases essential to city and often countrywide infrastructure, says Semtech. These deployments increase efficiency and cost savings for those government entities providing public infrastructure such as nationwide expressways, and LoRa devices represent an ideal technology and connectivity backbone.
CELLULAR IoT PLATFORM
Implementation IoT over existing cellular infrastructure is a popular option for Smart City system developers. To smooth the way, in July Cloud of Things announced a collaboration with Monogoto, a cellular provider implementing cellular connectivity alongside secure private LTE networks. The two firms rolled out a global offering to smart product manufacturers that reduces complexity and risk, and speeds time to market with advanced services supporting secure edge-cloud deployments.
The Cloud of Things’ DeviceTone IoT Suite, which includes its patented CloudSwitch technology, has been integrated with Monogoto’s global cellular connectivity platform using the Monogoto IoT SIM (Figure 6). This makes it simple to spin up and scale connected systems, including automatically and securely registering end-points to the network, whether those end-points are fixed or mobile, on land or at sea, are indoors or outdoors and include single or multiple sensors.
This means that Smart City system developers can take full advantage of a real-time operating system using a single network with security embedded merged with a single platform based on Microsoft Azure’s worldwide infrastructure that can connect to any cloud. The combination of the two platforms is enhanced with APIs, which means smart product/utility companies and solution providers can benefit from a unified, customized provisioning, management and maintenance environment.
Monogoto offers global coverage in all major markets, including their innovative “cellular suitcase” and the ability to roam into private networks like CBRS in the US for service in remote places. With its multiple cellular profile container, the Monogoto Secured IoT SIM has a globally redundant footprint in more than 170 countries and 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE CAT-M1 connectivity federating more than 550 cellular networks. Supporting standard UICC (triple form factor), eUICC and iUICC, the Monogoto IoT SIM card guarantees compatibility to any IoT device/use case.
The first joint offering from the two companies is an end-to-end prototyping package, which includes the DeviceTone Genie, a ready-to-run device launched in June, and made available on the Microsoft Azure IoT marketplace, and Monogoto‘s kit, which includes zero code service creation for rapid flow formation and global IoT cellular connectivity. Designed specifically for the connected field service market, the DeviceTone Genie Starter Kit that comes with a full featured IoT environment and with a Monogoto SIM and complementary support services.
GPS: A CRITICAL ASSET
Because Smart City networks are deployed on large scales, many of their applications depend on GPS location and timing to ensure ongoing operations. This can include power utilities, financial services, mobile networks, transportation and more. As a result, GPS has become a critical asset in Smart City implementations. To protect that asset, in June Microchip Technology announced the release of a major software update for its BlueSky GNSS Firewall product, providing a higher level of resiliency against GPS vulnerabilities for systems dependent on GPS signal reception.
Microchip’s BlueSky GNSS Firewall Software Release 2.0 performs real-time analysis to detect jamming and spoofing for protecting reception of the GPS signal and hardening response and recovery to avoid signal disruption (Figure 7). BlueSky GNSS Firewall Software Release 2.0 includes charting and advanced threshold settings of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observables such as satellites-in-view, carrier-to-noise, position dispersion, phase time deviation and radio frequency (RF) power level to simplify system turn-up and deployment.
BlueSky GNSS Firewall Software Release 2.0 includes improvements developed by Microchip as a result of participation in an industry live-sky testing event hosted by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and open to all providers. Microchip’s participation in the DHS-hosted GPS Testing for Critical Infrastructure (GET-CI) events, with scenarios including spoofed signals, has helped the company to identify new solutions to prevent signal disruptions. The Blue Sky GNSS Firewall Software Release 2.0 release improvements are based on the result of the 2019 live-sky testing and other input.
Microchip’s BlueSky GNSS Firewall Software Release 2.0 is provided as part of a subscription service and is installed on the BlueSky GNSS Firewall device. When connected to Microchip’s TimePictra management software, critical infrastructure operators also can monitor and analyze GNSS signals in cities, across geographic regions, throughout ,a country and even globally.
BUCK-BOOST DC-DC CONVERTER
Smart metering is key subsegment of Smart Cities. An ability run battery-operated smart metering devices is vital in today’s applications where data-collection via IoT is the only practical option. That means devices that can operate for at least 10 years without changing batteries. Along these lines, in September Texas Instruments (TI) rolled out what it claims is the industry’s first DC-DC buck-boost converter to combine programmable input current limit and integrated dynamic voltage scaling to extend battery life by at least 50%. The TPS63900 maintains the industry’s lowest quiescent current (IQ), 75 nA, with 92% efficiency at 10µA and delivers up to three times more output current than competing devices, says TI (Figure 8).
It can be challenging for engineers to design for low IQ while providing enough output current to send signals between connected smart grid applications and a network via commonly used radio-frequency standards, such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and long-range and wM-Bus. The TPS63900 helps engineers conserve energy in wirelessly connected applications that run on batteries.
The TPS63900 integrates dynamic voltage scaling to deliver power while keeping the system at the minimum voltage required to operate efficiently, maximizing battery life and reducing required maintenance for industrial applications. This feature enables design engineers to optimize power architectures for ultra-low-power sensors and wireless connectivity ICs, supporting applications that can operate for at least 10 years using the primary battery. For example, the buck-boost converter can be paired with TI’s MSP430FR2155 in security sensors or wireless IoT sensors to monitor the vibration of water pumps for predictive maintenance and help drive down costs. The TPS63900 is now available in a 2.5mm × 2.5mm wafer small outline no-lead (WSON) package.
AI SYSTEM FOR SECURITY
Security is another area of Smart City development where technology can make a difference, and specifically technology combining AI and IoT. Exemplifying this trend, in July IEI Integration introduced the FLEX AIoT Dev Kit equipped with 9th Generation LGA 1151 Intel Core/Xeon processor, Intel Q370/C246 chipset and DDR4 memory (Figure 9). The FLEX AIoT Dev. Kit is specifically designed for edge learning inference computation and features modularized, rich interconnectivity. Various input/output interfaces are provided for engineers to integrate cameras, sensors and motion control equipment to fast respond to accidental event.
The FLEX AIoT Dev. Kit features rich I/O and two PCIe slots (x8) to support add-ons like accelerator cards (Mustang-F100-A10 and Mustang-V100-MX8) or PoE cards (IPCIE-4POE) to enhance performance. The Mustang-F100-A10 is a PCIe-based accelerator card using the programmable Intel Arria 10 FPGA that provides the performance and versatility of FPGA acceleration. The Mustang-V100-MX8 is a PCIe-based accelerator card using an Intel Movidius VPU that drives the demanding workloads of modern computer vision and AI applications.
The FLEX AIoT Dev Kit’s Mustang accelerator card can be used for analyzing multiple streams of video data and handling real-time tasks such as age, gender and face identification. The data collected can be used in precision marketing, VIP customer service and customer flow analysis to further provide relevant product information through digital signage display to improve product sales and inventory control.
In addition to face identification, the solution speeds up the characteristic recognitions of vehicles such as license plates, vehicle models and colors. It can be applied in services like traffic steering analysis, illegal parking/helmet detection and trajectory tracking. Furthermore, vehicle license plate analysis can be deployed on highways for electronic toll collection, and can provide enhanced security by establishing a database of suspicious vehicles.
MORE AI AND SMART CITIES
Late last year, Integrated Device Technology (IDT), a subsidiary of Renesas Electronics, announced a partnership with industrial AI specialist ONE Tech to provide an end-to-end, integrated IoT and edge analytics solution aimed at optimizing the performance and use of city assets.
The joint IoT with Edge AI platform combines IDT’s BLE and 6LoWPAN wireless interconnectivity devices, sensors and MRAM non-volatile memory data storage with ONE Tech’s IoT Platform and Micro AI. ONE Tech’s platform and AI deliver performance optimization, security and analytics for connected devices and assets (Figure 10). The combination results in an end-to-end IoT ecosystem—from node-to-edge-to-cloud—that is well suited for a variety of Smart City applications, including connected community, water and waste management, and energy and asset management.
According to IDT, the IoT with Edge AI platform is a good alternative for IoT developers who do not want to develop their own cloud platform, nor want to use other major cloud platform solutions. Such development requires expertise in configuring wireless modules, sensors and other connected devices. The platform is designed as a ready-to-go solution that configures and provisions sensor and wireless products, allowing IoT developers to easily scale and customize the platform to the unique requirements of their applications and devices.
Securing connected assets and optimizing their performance are the most critical aspects of managing Smart City environments, says ONE Tech. By avoiding unexpected asset downtime, increasing the productivity of field teams and protecting all data, cities can maximize their return on investment for all their public service projects while redirecting any savings to other critical initiatives.
Using the IoT with Edge AI service, users can activate and manage any IDT/Renesas device. It lets you define workflows for automating business processes and create real-time event notifications. The platform enables you to store big data and apply AI/machine learning (ML) to perform advanced analytics and gain deeper insights. You can monitor real-time location and performance for all your IoT connected assets and orchestrate an end-to-end digital experience for your Smart City IoT deployment.
Like many industries and organizations, municipalities have the opportunity to transform their operations and service delivery by making smart technology investments and building successful partnerships. The process of becoming a “Smart City” is supported by the evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) products and services which has become a global market with significant activity in most countries and regions.
As municipalities explore opportunities to deliver city-wide IoT services, they are in a unique position to partner with first-movers in their region to deploy and manage smart city solutions on a common and open network architecture. Partnering with water utilities, for example, provides municipalities with a unique opportunity to create a shared network infrastructure capable of supporting a wide range of commercial and citizen-facing applications.
LoRaWAN networks designed for water metering are among the most capable. They are high-density, built with abundant capacity and secure. With a carrier-grade LoRaWAN network in place to support Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployments, municipalities and utilities can partner to rapidly deploy and expand their IoT initiatives. Easy LoRaWAN gateway deployment and cloud-based network management allow for multi-service utilities (water, gas, electric) to deploy service and safety applications at a low cost and in a collaborative fashion. Beyond utility metering and service monitoring, municipalities can rapidly deploy LoRaWAN solutions for waste management, smart parking, environmental monitoring, asset tracking, pest management, public safety and more.
Additionally, municipal leaders should consider that short-term measures taken in response to global crises often lead to changes that last for decades, making today’s technology decisions as important as ever. The COVID-19 crisis has made access to reliable, real-time environmental data an absolute necessity. Contactless data collection not only supports a wide variety of business reentry initiatives, but it will be a key component of driving long term operational efficiencies, improving service delivery, implementing sustainable practices and ultimately achieving a higher quality of life for citizens.
— Contributed by Senet, www.senetco.com
Cloud of Things | www.cloudofthings.com
Eurotech | www.eurotech.com
IEI Integration | www.ieiworld.com
Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com
NXP Semiconductor | www.nxp.com
Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com
Senet | www.senetco.com
Semtech | www.semtech.com
STMicroelectronics | www.st.com
Texas Instruments | www.ti.com
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2020 #363 – Get a PDF of the issue