18 April 2016
Taipei Plans Imminent Launch of Citywide LoRa Data Platform
A new LoRa (Long Range) wireless network is set to transform connectivity across Taipei.
The Taipei city government is working on the launch of its LoRa (Long Range) IoT (Internet of Things) initiative, a low-power, long-range wireless protocol. According to IBM, the communication range of LoRa can be up to 15-20 kilometres. Its compressed communications format, however, means it is only suitable for data rather than audio or video files. It is, though, entirely compatible with wearable devices.
LoRa wireless communications base stations have already been installed in every administrative district in the city, as well as in the Yangmingshan national park. As a result, the municipal government is confident that the LoRa network will extend across the entire city.
Once up and running, the new network can be used to track children, seniors and pets, instantly pinpointing their location throughout the city. It can also be used to access readings from water and gas meters in the more remote areas, dispensing with the need to dispatch staff to undertake this task. It is hoped that, in the future, the technology will be capable of transmitting data over greater distances.
According to the Taipei City Department of Information Technology, the government body overseeing the project, any business looking to develop LoRa compatible apps will be granted free access to the platform. It is hoped that this will provide a boost to Taiwan's IT and creative sectors.
Speaking at the Smart City Mayor's Summit & Expo in March this year, Charles Lin, the city's Deputy Mayor, was keen to emphasise Taipei's inherent advantages when it comes to implementing a smart city policy. In line with this, he cited the fact that many Taipei residents are highly receptive to new technologies, with internet penetration and smartphone ownership in the city already exceeding 70%.
Lin also underlined the quality of the city's ICT industry. In Taipei's Neihu Technology Park alone, he said, there are more than 4,000 such companies, while the city is also home to a vast array of design and research talent, as well as a host of international corporations.
To capitalise on these advantages, the city government has established a Smart City Committee, with the mayor serving as the convener and a number of business leaders in the relevant sectors providing input on future policy development. The government has also launched a dedicated Smart City Office. Its brief is to identify public requirements and convert these into business opportunities, while simultaneously acting as an industrial collaboration platform. It will also provide technical support to various government bureaus and departments.
Sylvia Yeh, Taiwan Office