From March 11th to 15th, 11 students took part in the latest session of the “LoRaSat” training course at the International Center for Environmental Research and Education (CIREN), dedicated to the deployment of LoRa networks, a satellite technology adapted to the challenges of Laotian communications infrastructures, for environmental monitoring applications.

In the current context of global changes and the need for enhanced environmental monitoring, there is an urgent need for real-time transmission of the information and data collected, in order to better anticipate high-risk situations (flooding, spread of disease, etc.) or situations requiring immediate action (switching on an irrigation system, turning on a fan in overheated stables, etc.). Usually transmitted to Internet gateways and servers using GSM or WiFi connections, Laos has many remote areas where these technologies cannot be exploited.


Facing this situation, new LPWAN (low power wide area network) communication technologies offer an encouraging alternative, as they are less expensive and require less energy to reach satellites. This is particularly true of the LoRa satellite and its LoRaWAN telecommunications protocol.

Objectives of the training course

After two initial training sessions focusing respectively on the design of environmental monitoring applications and the operation of environmental sensors, this third and final session of the “LoRaSat” training course was dedicated to the deployment of applications on the LoRaWAN network protocol.

Its aim was to provide the technical knowledge to:

  1. build and use LoRaWAN systems;
  2. evolve towards “satellite LoRa” systems;
  3. ensure the associated power supply in the context of remote areas of Laos (natural or cultivated environment) thanks to mini-solar panels.

Students first learned about the principles and technical aspects of LoRaWan and LoRa satellite technologies. The devices built were then installed and tested in the environment of Nakai-Nam Theun National Park in Nakai district (near the town of Thakek), Laos.

Participants also received training in power supply issues, allowing them to design solar panels capable of recharging batteries even in low-light conditions (during the rainy season or under forest cover).

Hosted by Jean-François Printanier (IRD, France) and Khampasith Chanthavong (MounoyDev company Lao PDR), this session was more technical than previous ones, and yet brought together 11 participants with a good knowledge of electronics and programming already, and a desire to progress in their field.

Acknowledgements

Once again, CIREN and IRD would like to thank the Francophone University Agency (AUF) and the Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) for their support.

Contact:

Christian Hartmann, Researcher at UMR iEES-Paris (IRD)