Protecting the World’s Art Collections with LoRaWAN®
01 October 2019 / by Austin Senseman & Nathan McMinn
At Conserv, we built one of the first environmental monitoring solutions using Semtech’s LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® protocol to bring better care to the world’s 450,000+ art and cultural collections in museums, libraries, archives, and private collections. Accurate and consistent monitoring is important because unhealthy collection environments – those with excessive heat, humidity, light, and vibration – do irreversible damage to valuable, sensitive objects. Sounds straightforward, right?
Art Collection Monitoring Challenge
Even in our current digitized age, most collection monitoring is accomplished manually with “data loggers,” and requires many hours of manual effort every week. Many collections live in spaces that are difficult or impractical to cover with Wi-Fi, such as a basement storage space or a historical property. Covering these spaces with Wi-Fi is often impractical, and in the case of historic buildings, might not even be possible when doing so requires drilling holes and running wires. Even if the collection has managed to get coverage with Wi-Fi, sensor batteries will need to be replaced frequently because Wi-Fi requires a lot of power.
The takeaway is this: current Wi-Fi solutions provide so few benefits that most collections choose to spend hundreds of hours every year doing conservation work by hand while our shared cultural heritage suffers.
Conserv and LoRaWAN for Art Conservation
At Conserv, we provide a no-hassle, wireless environmental monitoring solution that is 100 percent devoted to conservation work. We eliminate all of the current manual effort and provide an analytics platform that contextualizes the data in a way that supports conservation efforts.
We can confidently tell this story because of LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol. At the root of any good Internet of Things (IoT) solution is data collection. LoRaWAN sensors can be deployed into difficult spaces with batteries that last for years.
We read the white papers and saw the results others were getting, and frankly, we found it a little hard to believe. Before we made any large investments in the technology, we ran a city scale test using The Things Network. The test proved LoRaWAN had the range we needed, the ability to cover large structures without additional infrastructure, and in addition, gave us the battery life to build a maintenance-free solution for our customers.
A Leading Global Ecosystem
Conserv is, first and foremost, a solution company. In our space, delivering a leading solution means we need reliable data. Today, this means building our own sensor to meet the needs of our customers. However, one of the most important factors we consider when making technology decisions is the size and health of the ecosystem.
This is an area where LoRa devices stood apart from some of the other options we considered. Semtech has done a great job building a strong partner ecosystem around the technology. Many of our customer needs, such as leak detection, outdoor condition monitoring and others, are already well served by members of the ecosystem. Where these solutions already exist, we will integrate them into our product offerings. We have had great support from all of the vendors we have worked with so far, including Laird, TEKTELIC, Murata, and others.
Explore Semtech’s LoRa ecosystem to learn more.
Enabling Smarter Museums and Exhibitions Today
Starting today, more collections around the world are receiving the kind of care they deserve through access to high quality, wireless and conservation-focused monitoring. The foundation of this success is accessible wireless data, which is made possible by LoRa-based devices, LoRaWAN-based connectivity and many partners in the ecosystem.
Learn more about the various, innovative ways that LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol create business efficiencies and improve lives around the world.
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