IoT Sensor Deployment Challenges & How To Resolve Those – Part 1

This blog series drives awareness about the challenges enterprises commonly face while installing and managing IoT sensor deployments… and the solutions to overcome those challenges.

The business benefits of IoT coupled with market trends are driving rapid IoT adoption in every industry vertical like smart cities, building automation, industrial, healthcare, etc. This growing demand for IoT connectivity is paving the way to a plethora of sensor types for various use cases such as traffic sensors, parking meters, pressure sensors, electricity sensors, and so on. Efficient sensor deployment is one of the key success factors in every IoT investment and that’s where most enterprises struggle a lot today.

Challenge #1: Variety of sensors and chipsets

There is an increasing number of commercial launches of cellular technologies like NB-IoT, Cat-M1/M2, LTE-M, LoRa, etc. Each of these technologies has specific electronics for sensing endpoints. Although the cost of mobile chipsets has been declining over time, currently there’s no cost-effective solution that can work with the widespread in electronics of the cellular-connected IoT sensors to measure connectivity parameters.

Challenge #2:Identify an optimal location to deploy sensors

Whether it is a factory floor or a smart building, it is never easy to identify the perfect spot to deploy the IoT sensors. To successfully capture and transmit the ambient inputs over-the-air, the sensor must be located near the input-source and also where the network signal strength is reliable. To determine signal quality spread, today operators mostly rely on statistical modeling using terrain and clutter models. This results in statistical variabilities. Currently, there is no way to capture empirical network data, the lack of which often leads to installing sensors in sub optimal locations where the signal quality is poor and unreliable. Unreliable connectivity results in poor sensor performance which in turn affects the performance of the overall IoT solution and impacts the customer experience.

Challenge # 3: Not easy to remediate sensor performance issues

IoT sensors are typically installed in hard-to-access locations. When a sensor exhibits sub-optimal performance due to network connectivity, it is hard to root-cause the problem. Currently, there is no way to obtain real-time visibility into connectivity data to assess network health. The technicians may need to try a different location hoping for better wireless connectivity or replace the sensor itself. In such trial-and-error methodology, multiple truck rolls could be needed before the problem is identified and rectified. This impacts both OpEx and TCO and also skews up inventory management.

Challenge # 4 Network validations for connectivity SLAs

It is difficult to guarantee a satisfactory level of service if the IoT devices fail to deliver due to poor connectivity. Currently, RF and RAN design are done based on statistical models. Once the IoT network is deployed, due to the lack of network health data, it is not possible to validate your network design assumptions and performance in the context of the initial SLAs.

In a highly competitive digital marketplace, businesses can’t live with these challenges for too long. The next blog discusses ways to overcome these challenges.