How To Build Your Own BMS Control System

Technology-based solutions have been used to control and monitor equipment in buildings for years. With IoT there’s so much more we can now add to create a more intelligent building management system. Learn how you can create your own BMS control system with Alliot & Wattsense.

BMS control systems provide a range of benefits for Facility Managers and companies alike. Most commonly used to monitor and control a building’s electrical and mechanical equipment such as office equipment, lighting, heating and ventilation. Building Management Systems can be used to:

  • Improve energy efficiencies
  • Make savings
  • Increase staff productivity
  • Improve overall working conditions
  • Reduce Carbon emissions

Up until now, many BMS control systems operate under a technology known as BACnet (Building Automation Control and Network). BACnet is one of the most widely used protocols for automation control – helping you to tie together systems such as security and ventilation to develop a BMS client capable of controlling and monitoring connected entities.

These systems provide a great deal of functionality to existing BMS. But what if we could take this to the next level and create even more intelligent Building Management Systems?

Meet the Wattsense Range


Wattsense’s gateways enable you to connect your existing BMS systems to other protocols to create your own BMS control system. Opening up a whole world of opportunities, with these gateways you can connect any of our LoRaWAN® sensors to your existing BACnet system with minimal disruption. The Wattsense range support the connection of a total of 13 different protocols meaning you can monitor and control devices altogether in one place.

Wattsense Box or Hub – What’s the Difference?

There are two versions of WattSense’s gateway available. Depending on how you wish to control and monitor your intelligent Building Management System will help you to select the best device for you.

The Wattsense Box is centrally managed which enables you to configure and maintain the device over the internet using Wattsense’s cloud platform. This can be particularly useful for Facility Management companies who may manage a portfolio of buildings across multiple locations.

The Wattsense Hub, on the other hand is a stand alone device that does not require an internet connection. The Hub can be managed on-site via USB. This device is better suited to those looking to create a stand alone BMS control system.

What can LoRaWAN sensors bring to my BMS?

The possibilities are endless! Maybe your existing system has highlighted an area where energy costs are higher, but you don’t have enough information to identify why. In this instance, you could use the NKE Smart Plug to monitor and control power to devices which may be left running out of hours.

Or perhaps you want to add a new element to your BMS and optimise waste collections.

Whatever you are looking to add to your Building Management Systems we can help. Contact our team today for free expert advice on integrating IoT into your BMS systems.

Keeping LoRaWAN keys safe with the Alliot Key Management System

Any LoRaWAN device needs keys in order to work. They are an integral part of the protocol and used to keep data secure and to authorise devices to be able to connect to your IoT system. LoRaWAN key management is an important consideration.

Nearly all LoRaWAN devices connect to a Network Server using an Over-The-Air-Activation process referred to as OTAA. Amongst other things, this uses an AppKey to authenticate your device and as a basis for data encryption for all communication between the device and your server.

Currently, whenever you buy a LoRaWAN device you need to be given the AppEUI (or JoinEUI as it is known in LoRaWAN 1.1) and the AppKey. It is important that this is done in a secure way. If someone is able to intercept your keys then they can compromise the security of your IoT system.

At Alliot we care so much about your security that we have built a secure service to deliver keys to our customers.

Our LoRaWAN Key Management System (KMS) is free to use for our customers, whenever you buy sensors from us (whether we have provisioned new keys or the devices are using the manufacturer’s default keys), we will load the keys into KMS for you to log in and retrieve whenever you want.

Alliot LoRaWAN Key Management System Screenshot
(Note; the data in this screenshot is fake test data!)

How is This Secure?

Our KMS system offers the following security features:

  • Hardened web server with HTTPS only communication. All access to the KMS web software is over HTTPS, we use modern certificates with only modern, secure ciphers enabled. We regularly run our servers through the Qualys SSL-Labs web server testing tool. Our server is given the highest A+ rating. (See screenshot below).
  • Password hashing and enforced long, secure passwords. We only ever store login passwords hashed with unique salt and many thousand iterations of hashing. This means that there is essentially no way of someone cracking passwords. I have to use the word “essentially” as nothing is impossible but it would take even the most powerful super-computers billions of years to do! We enforce the use of long, random passwords, this seems like an inconvenience but it is the only way of making sure people don’t compromise their own security by using easy to guess passwords. If you aren’t already then please use a password manager tool such as https://bitwarden.com/, https://www.lastpass.com/ or similar.
  • Brute force protection and “back door” access protection. We rate limit login attempts to mean brute force guessing of passwords is basically impossible (this only works when long, random passwords are used as above). We audit our servers and ensure that there are no unnecessary services running, any necessary services (such as ssh) are locked down, monitored and rate limited and administrative logins to servers for our staff are carefully managed.
  • A no login sharing policy. We insist that our customers use individual logins rather than generic per company logins. Each individual login will see the stored keys for the whole customer. The reason for this is two fold. On one hand it discourages people from keeping login passwords in publicly accessible places or emails for their staff to share. On the other hand it gives us an audit trial of who is doing what on the server if we ever need it.
  • The LoRaWAN keys themselves are stored in a database for retrieval. They are stored using modern, secure encryption methods and master keys are kept securely and not obtainable by unauthorised staff. We rotate the encryption keys periodically.
Qualys SSL Labs result for Alliot LoRaWAN Key Management Server
(Screenshot of Qualys SSL Labs results as of 24th May 2021)

This only covers part of the story. It is important that customers are handling keys securely once they have obtained them. Our LoRaWAN Key Management system means you do not even need to attempt to store keys yourself, if you need them again just login to our system at any time. However, it’s still important to make sure that when you are loading keys into whatever LoRaWAN platform you use, that it is secure itself. Feel free to speak to us for recommendations.

Lastly, it’s worth talking about the standardisation of a secure method of device provisioning and key distribution that the https://lora-alliance.org/ have worked on. This involves manufacturers (or potentially distributors such as ourselves) to operate Join Servers which handle the authentication of devices into any LoRaWAN Network Server. It decouples the authentication and encryption setup process from the Network Server and Application Servers meaning the LNS itself does not need to even know the keys anymore. This will add a whole new level of security to LoRaWAN and is a worthwhile addition to the protocol. But it relies on hardware changes to devices, widespread implementation of LoRaWAN 1.1 on devices and servers and adoption by network providers and manufacturers. So we feel that it will come but it will be some time in the future when all LoRaWAN devices and services are using it. Certainly once it is viable outside of the laboratory, we will be offering it to our customers and we lobby manufacturers to accelerate adoption of new specifications such as this.

The Alliot KMS service is available to any customers buying LoRaWAN devices from us. Please Contact Us to get started.

LoRaWAN Network Management – Why use Kerlink Wanesy?

LoRaWAN Network Management is no simple task. With the potential of having hundreds, even thousands of devices connected to your network, there are various implications which are worth considering. We’ve compiled a short blog to help you identify the benefits that Kerlink Wanesy Management Centre could offer you.

Kerlink Wanesy Management Centre

LoRaWAN® networks are free to use, but there are numerous other costs you should take into account. If you are using free-to-use software there will still be costs involved; you will need to learn how it works, maintain it and support it. If you are setting up a private LoRaWAN® network, no matter how small, you are effectively becoming a radio network operator for your customers. The infrastructure of your networks include:

  • The physical gateways
  • The back haul from the gateways to the internet
  • The LoRaWAN® network server

If any part of this infrastructure has a problem, your entire system will stop working which could unravel even more problems for you!

It’s important you have the right support behind you when problems occur. With Kerlink Wanesy (or any other commercial LNS), you are outsourcing this support burden to Alliot and Kerlink.

Network management is often overlooked by end users, this is a key factor to the failure of IoT solutions at the proof of concept stage.

What is Kerlink Wanesy?

Kerlink’s Wanesy Management Centre can be thought as being two things; 1. a LoRaWAN Network Server and 2. Remote Gateway Management.

Kerlink’s Wanesy LoRaWAN network server implements the LoRaWAN protocol and acts as an essential piece of middleware. This is comparable to other products such as Chirpstack, The Things Network and to some extent, LORIOT.

Remote Gateway Management

The Gateway Management element is something that is currently unique to Kerlink. It provides a central, web-based client where you can remotely access your deployed gateways wherever they may. Regardless of how your devices are connected to the internet, you can access them with Kerlink Wanesy. This means you can even access gateways using 3G or 4G SIM cards. With these devices, the gateway establishes a VPN between itself and Wanesy. With this unique feature, you can perform firmware upgrades and diagnose problems remotely without having to make site visits.

Alerting System

Kerlink’s intuitive Wanesy LoRaWAN Network Management also features an alerting system. This enables you to identify potential problems early and monitor the performance of sensors and gateways on your network.

Security

Security of IoT systems is a hot topic. Kerlink Wanesy allows you to deploy a secure platform in the following ways:

  • Hardened OpenVPN configuration and certificate authentication help to ensure secure communication between gateways and the server.
  • Both the server and gateway software are centrally managed and are thoroughly tested by Kerlink’s developers making it simple for you to keep software up to date.
  • Alerting lets you know about potential problems before they cause too much disruption.

Kerlink’s Wanesy Management Centre also offers a competitive commercial offering. Unlike other LNS options, Kerlink Wanesy offers you low on-boarding fees, and is cost based on the number of gateways, not sensors.

Contact our expert team today to discuss the best LoRaWAN Network Services for your solutions.

Our experts are on hand to help you every step of the way
Lets talk

Take Remote Control with NKE’s LoRaWAN Smart Plug

Remote Control Plug

We’ve had lots of requests for a UK variant of a LoRaWAN® Smart Plug. Up until now, these have been hard to come by… make way for the new NKE UK LoRaWAN® Smart Plug! Now it’s here, we’d like to share some of the key features and benefits of this hotly anticipated LoRaWAN® sensor with you.

What is the NKE Smart Plug?

Typically speaking, a Smart Plug is a small adapter that is plugged into a regular electrical wall outlet. Smart Plugs enable you to remotely control connected devices or appliances.

The NKE Smart Plug connects to a public or private LoRaWAN® network to enable you to remotely control connected devices. It also monitors power consumption and power quality measurements such as average/min/max voltage (rms/peak) and frequency.

Uses of Remote Control Plugs

There are many uses for remote control plugs. The NKE Smart Plug is CE certified and is ideal for both domestic and commercial environments. Some example use cases include:

  • Remotely manage the operation of common household electrical appliances
  • Identify areas for improving energy efficiencies
  • Reduce carbon footprints in large office environments by identifying and remotely controlling equipment which may be left running
  • Save money on energy bills in empty premises where appliances may still be connected to power
  • Remotely schedule the hours you want devices to be connected to power with remote power scheduling

We work closely with our partners to help you access the products you need. Our close working relationships with some of the world’s leading manufacturers enable us to help you source and develop the products you require. If there’s something missing from your project contact our expert team to find out how we can help.

Alliot Strike Gold with RAKwireless

Alliot - RAKwireless Gold Partner

We’re delighted to have announced our new partnership with RAKwireless this week. Our new agreement sees Alliot receive the Gold-Level Value Added Reseller status. Find out more about our latest partner news in this short blog.

Who are RAKwireless?

RAK are pioneers in providing innovative and diverse cellular and LoRa connectivity solutions for IoT edge devices. Established in Shenzen, China, in 2014, RAK’s mission is to develop and supply advanced IoT technology and services to the market.

Working together

Our new partnership with RAK sees us add the entire range of IoT sensors and gateways to our portfolio.

“At RAK we value diversity. We collaborate with different partners and we invest time to talk to our partners to understand their unique requirements and help them to realise the business models they need. Our partnership with Alliot strengthens our ideal of working together with partners, no matter how big or small, to accelerate IoT industry progress.”

Ken Yu, CEO of RAKwireless

Alliot Video – LoRaWAN Sensor types

The second part to our educational video series is now live, giving you a glimpse into what is possible with LoRaWAN sensor types and the things that can be done with them.

At Alliot we strive to bring you the very best in IoT LoRaWAN sensors to give you the options to build you perfect solution. All of our team members  have expert knowledge on all our stocked devices through advanced and rigorous testing. With Alliot you can rest assured know that your devices will work with whatever it is you have planned.Our team are available to answer any query you may have about these devices as well as suggest the best products for your project.

Video Transcript – LoRaWAN Sensor Types

LoRaWAN Sensors and what can be done with them

LoRaWAN sensors come in many shapes, sizes and functionality.

Whether you’re looking to monitor air quality, vibration, energy, water flow, soil moisture or even track your assets and livestock. Alliot has the LoRaWAN sensor for you.

The possibilities LoRaWAN sensors present is virtually endless. Using LoRaWAN, sensors can be configured to send recorded data at specific intervals to your LoRaWAN network. Enabling you to monitor and analyse your environment to better improve your efficiencies and productivity.

So what are some of the things you can do with LoRaWAN sensors?

How about tracking the many assets in your warehouse? Such as a forklift, that Dave has left at the back of the warehouse again or maybe?

Amara accidentally left the heating on over the weekend and its costing the company money?

Or how about so Farmer Ted knows when his crops need more water or even more fertilizer.

Maybe even the local council who would like to monitor traffic through the city centre.

LoRaWAN sensors are able to monitor all of these and more, providing you with informative data which you can act on.

Sitting on their own network, LoRaWAN sensors can be quickly installed with little disruption your existing infrastructure – saving you time and money. We can even provision them for you so they’re ready to install straight out of the box!

LoRaWAN sensors have many uses and can help solve all kinds of challenges you might face day to day within your business. Contact our expert team today to find out more about our range of LoRaWAN sensors and beginning your IoT journey.

I hope you found this video informative, please like and subscribe to our channel to stay up to date with all our future videos.

 

Alliot Become Kerlink Gold Partner

Alliot become Kerlink Gold Partner

We’re delighted to have been awarded the Gold Partner Status by Kerlink. Find out more about our recent accreditation in this short blog.

Who are Kerlink?

Based in France, Kerlink is a fast-growing, global brand. Their main focus is around gateways and their industry-leading Wanesy network server. Kerlink’s offering supports the design, launch and operation of many IoT solutions. As founding and board members of the LoRa Alliance, they are leaders in their field.

Operating a tiered partner system, Kerlink base their partner statuses on company performance.

Growth for Alliot & Kerlink

Alliot first became a Kerlink partner in October 2019. Since then our sales and business has gone from strength to strength, helping us to achieve the Kerlink gold partner status!

Despite the challenges we’ve all faced over the past 12 months, we’ve been lucky to have worked with many of our partners to deliver some really innovative projects. Kerlink’s products play a pivotal role in our offering, helping to bring solutions to life. With LoRaWAN gateways for indoor and outdoor use, the Wanesy management centre and the Wanesy Wave tracking solution, Kerlink are an important asset to any IoT set up.

We look forward to further developing our relationship throughout 2021 and growing Kerlink business throughout the UK and Europe.

Discount trade prices available
Speak to the team

A breath of fresh air?

In-person teaching is being reintroduced in the UK this month. We’re looking at ways to monitor and improve air quality in schools (and other workplaces) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

monitor indoor air quality in schools

COVID-safe schools

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been told that meeting outdoors is far safer than being inside. We’re looking at ways to bring people back inside, while minimising the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

Monitoring CO2 levels can give a good indication of ventilation in an indoor space. There is increasing evidence to suggest that CO2 levels correlate with the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The majority of carbon dioxide in an indoor environment comes from breathing. This is particularly true in a classroom situation; with little computer equipment and a large group of students.

Improving indoor air quality in schools can be as simple as creating an alert when CO2 levels rise above a critical amount (e.g. 1000 ppm). When an alert is triggered, the teacher can open a window or door, and allow fresh air to circulate.

We stock a range of LoRaWAN sensors that measure CO2, temperature and humidity. This can be a great place to start for monitoring indoor air quality in schools.

Further health benefits

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers had started to investigate the effects of indoor air quality on health. This is particularly important in schools, as children can develop conditions such as asthma through poor air quality.

To dive a bit deeper into factors affecting indoor air quality; we need to look a bit further than carbon dioxide. We can also look at VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and particulate matter (PM).

In a school environment, you’d expect to find VOCs in things like art and craft supplies, cleaning products and new carpets/vinyl flooring. Particulate matter is mostly from dust and smoke (including car exhaust fumes and cooking smoke). Ensuring adequate ventilation when children are exposed to VOCs or particulate matter is key to their long-term health.

Our indoor air quality sensors allow you to measure a wide range of different parameters. You can get a complete understanding of the air quality levels in your school or educational setting.

We also supply outdoor air quality sensors. These can give you an idea of other environmental pollutants such as ozone or NOx. These generally come from traffic or industrial sources, so would be more relevant to schools in urban areas.

A learning opportunity

Improved indoor air quality in schools is known to have positive health benefits for children. But why not build on your project by getting your students involved?

Our LoRaWAN sensors communicate with a centralised gateway. The information is then sent to an easy-to-use dashboard where you can access the data. Create a science project to monitor air quality in your classroom using real statistics. Invite them to make suggestions on how air quality could be improved.

We also offer proof of concept kits so you can quickly and easily get your project up and running. Create a custom proof of concept kit to include air quality sensors and get to grips with the technology on a small scale.

COVID-19 IoT Solutions
Find out more

To find out more about how you could use technology to make your workplace safer, visit our COVID-19 solutions page. Alternatively, contact a member of our team for help and advice on your IoT project.

Get Started with Alliot’s IoT Starter Packs

Here at Alliot, we know that it’s not always straight forward to adopt new technologies. The Internet of Things provides an endless amount of possibilities, but realising the actual capabilities can be a hurdle for some. We’ve developed a new range of IoT starter kits all designed to help you gain that all important seal of approval.

Created with local authorities in mind, our Smart Town and City IoT starter packs have been carefully constructed to enable you to illustrate the benefits IoT can bring to your applications. Covering areas such as air quality monitoring, irrigation, pest control and people/traffic counting our packs are ideal for those looking to get started in IoT, helping you to quickly demonstrate the possibilities LoRaWAN® can bring to your projects.

Available in three different variants, our IoT starter packs consist of the following hardware.

  Smart Town and City Bronze IoT Starter Pack
BRONZE
Smart Town and City Silver IoT Starter Pack
SILVER
Smart Town and City Gold IoT Starter Pack
GOLD
Occupancy
Air Quality
(Indoor)

(Indoor)

(Outdoor)
Pest Control
Smart Parking
Smart Utilities
Smart Parks
Smart Waste
Flood Alert
Asset Tracking
Legionella Monitoring
Gateway
(Indoor)

(Outdoor)

(Outdoor)

All of our Smart Town and Cities IoT Starter Packs are supplied with 3 months access to Kerlink’s Wanesy Management Centre and 3 months complimentary use of City Nexus’ visualisation tool*.

*Use of City Nexus’ dashboard service after initial 3 month introductory offer will be charged annually on a license-based service.

What does LoRaWAN® offer to Smart Towns & Cities?

LoRaWAN® networks are now widely available across many towns and cities throughout the world. These networks are accessible to all and offer a low power, wide area network meaning the sensors you deploy can transmit data to connected gateways over an area of up to 10 kms. This enables you to deploy various sensors throughout your area. Your deployed sensors could be monitoring different parameters, but they can all communicate to the same gateway. Recorded data is then transmitted via a LoRaWAN® network to your chosen analytics dashboard. From the dashboard, you can then visualise the data, identify potential issues and action the appropriate response.

What’s more, LoRaWAN® devices can be integrated with your existing infrastructure without the need to run expensive cabling – minimising disruption.

Data recorded by LoRaWAN® IoT Sensors can be used by local authorities to:

  • Raise alerts to unusual patterns in data eg. air pollution levels.
  • Improve operational efficiencies and streamline processes such as waste management programmes.
  • Make more informed decisions and allow different departments to collaborate and share information securely.
  • Create a reliable, automated process to ensure data records are always maintained and kept up to date.

The Benefits of IoT Starter Packs

IoT Starter kits are a great way to quickly demonstrate and test your IoT solutions before scaling them to fit your projects. Compiled of industry leading hardware and access to a visualisation platform, our proof of concept kits are an excellent place to get started. Along with our Smart Town and City starter packs, we also offer a range of proof of concept kits and can work with you to develop your very own bespoke solution.

Ready to Scale Your Solution? We’re Here to Help.

Our expert team are on hand to assist you every step of the way. From proof of concept, to sensor suitability and deployment, our specialists can help you to bring your IoT projects to life.

Our experts are on hand to help you every step of the way
Lets talk

What is LoRaWAN? – Video Release

What is LoRaWAN?

With the new year comes many new opportunities, you may be looking to upgrade your business into a smart business using LoRaWAN sensors to aid in your decision making.

If you have ever wondered what LoRaWAN is then look no further. We here at Alliot are aware that in the modern world, time is precious. Information needs to be delivered fast and be responsive, much like a LoRaWAN network. That’s why we have created a short informative video to explain LoRaWAN just for you. So watch out for our next installments in our video series on youtube as well as our social media.

Video Transcript

What is LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN stands for Long Range Wide Area Network and is a communication protocol designed to operate over LoRa radio. Which is essentially a Long-range modulation to get information through the air over long ranges whilst using very little power.

What makes up a LoRaWAN network?
Typically a LoRaWAN Network consists of lots of devices or sensors, a number of radio gateways and a Network Server that enables all components to communicate. These connected devices gather small packets of data which are then transmitted via the cloud and presented in a user-friendly way, most commonly by a dashboard.

So why choose to use LoRaWAN?
Working with a LoRaWAN network offers many benefits with improved range of sensors with distances up to 10+ Kilometers. As well as being a wireless system with little set up which can remotely be done via a dashboard. LoRaWAN networks also integrate seamlessly into existing network infrastructure with plug and play features.#

What’s more LoRaWAN sensors are powered by internal batteries allowing for reduced maintenance as data is transmitted periodically, helping to save battery life. With batteries typically lasting multiple years, some lasting 5+ years!

And as you know lower maintenance means cheaper costs and less headaches for you. LoRaWAN & Alliot help you with all of this & more!

I hope you found this video informative and please like and subscribe to our channel to stay up to date with all of our future videos.