Power-sipping San Francisco network could have IoT devices buzzing

The city will install antennas at its libraries for the low-power, wide-area network

A wireless network planned for San Francisco could once again make the local library the best place to go for information.

The data collected there won’t be much fun to read, but it may help consumers, businesses and local agencies take advantage of connected objects. The city agreed to install antennas at its libraries as part of a pilot project by French vendor SigFox to build a network for the Internet of Things. Each antenna will cover a broad swath of the city, and it could allow San Francisco to expand the IoT services it offers today.

The city is no stranger to IoT. It already uses connected sensors and meters to determine the demand for parking on certain streets and periodically adjust hourly rates so drivers are more likely to find a space when they arrive. Rates go up on more crowded blocks and down on less crowded ones, but no more than once per month. The program is active in seven pilot areas around the city and uses an app to show drivers the current rates.

Through the deal with SigFox, San Francisco hopes to provide more efficient city services while attracting more tech startups, of which it already has a bumper crop.

Some proponents of IoT say it could transform the way city governments operate. Urban infrastructure like parking meters and traffic lights can be networked for automation and for collecting data about long-term trends. The city of Chicago uses GPS (global positioning system) to track its more than 400 snowplows in real time and gives that information to its residents through a smartphone app.

SigFox’s LPWAN (low-power wide-area network) technology represents a slow but energy-efficient way to communicate. The company has already built LPWANs in France and other countries, and it hopes eventually to cover large parts of the U.S. The San Francisco deployment will be the largest of ten city networks SigFox plans to build around the country.

LPWANs are similar to cellular networks but designed for IoT equipment such as sensors and meters. Those devices typically need to be small and to run for years on one battery. Low-power networks make that possible while delivering less bandwidth than cellular -- less than 1Kbps, in the case of the SigFox U.S. network -- but enough for the IoT gear. SigFox faces several LPWAN rivals, including the LoRa Alliance and backers of a low-power form of LTE.

As one of the centers of the U.S. digital economy, San Francisco has made several moves to build out advanced network infrastructure. In 2006, it made a deal with EarthLink for a Wi-Fi network to blanket the city, but that project failed when EarthLink pulled out of the Wi-Fi business. More recently, the city built a free Wi-Fi network along its central Market Street and in parks and public buildings. There is also a growing fiber network among city facilities.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?