Innovation That Matters

Free, open, crowdsourced city-wide IoT network


The Things Network is helping to build free city-wide internet in Amsterdam, without the use of wifi or 3G.

A world where internet access is free for all, where an Internet of Things is networked by the users, for the users. Is it possible? In Amsterdam, it’s already happened. The Things Network (TTN) is planning to build a global, open, crowdsourced Internet of Things data network, and work is well underway.

In a period of just 6 weeks, Amsterdam was transformed into a city-wide accessible network, without the help of any big business or telecoms companies — it has been entirely crowdsourced. TTN initiator Wienke Giezeman saw the potential in a new technology called LoraWAN (Long-range Wide Area Network) to create gateways for connecting municipal geographic zones. The devices allow things to connect to the internet without the use of wifi, 3G, or Bluetooth. It has a wide range and cheap development and installation costs — EUR 1500 for 7 mile radius devices — and the team will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to develop a cheaper EUR 200 unit.

Pilot projects already underway in Amsterdam include devices that alert boat owners to potential flooding of their moored vessels, and a device to monitor users’ bikes. The port of Amsterdam, which struggles to support the cost involved in setting up wireless networks across the whole port area, has also been contributing to the project. After the rapid success of Amsterdam’s crowdsourced city-wide activation, TTN is hoping other cities will be queuing up to create their own citizens’ network.

LoraWAN technology will allow the IoT to change the way cities function — with crowdsourcing from those who can afford to install gateways, all the inhabitants will benefit from having their city connected. What other projects are possible with a Things network?



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