Secure Position Data Transmission for Object Tracking using LoRaWAN

State: completed by Matthias Diez

Today more and more device are able to get online using the Internet for communication and, thus, the request by users to be active in communication and accessing any kind of data during traveling around grows. This growing also includes the request to track owned objects (e.g., bikes, monitors, picture frames, cars). Those tracking applications are very important if the objects are expensive and/or are not under full control by the owner (e.g., not in viewing distance, not stored in an access controlled manner).
In order to track options manifold applications are in place using different communication solutions (e.g., RFID, NFC, BLE, UWB). Those technologies are wide-spread but require many infrastructure support (e.g., service providers, individual contracts). For sure, people have a mobile contract due to their provider, but usually those are expensive as soon as the bandwidth for the Internet connection rises. Thus, it becomes interesting to use a communication solution independent of any provider contracts.
The LoRa Alliance developed such a free network called Wide Area Networks for IoT. LoRaWAN is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things in a regional, national or global network. LoRaWAN targets key requirements of Internet of Things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services. The LoRaWAN specification provides seamless interoperability among smart Things without the need of complex local installations and gives back the freedom to the user, developer, businesses enabling the roll out of Internet of Things. LoRaWAN network architecture is typically laid out in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways is a transparent bridge relaying messages between end-devices and a central network server in the back-end. Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections while end-devices use single- hop wireless communication to one or many gateways. All end-point communication is generally bi- directional, but also supports operation such as multicast enabling software upgrade over the air or other mass distribution messages to reduce the on air communication time. Communication between end-devices and gateways is spread out on different frequency channels and data rates. The selection of the data rate is a trade-off between communication range and message duration. Due to the spread spectrum technology, communications with different data rates do not interfere with each other and create a set of "virtual" channels increasing the capacity of the gateway. LoRaWAN data rates range from 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps. To maximize both battery life of the end-devices and overall network capacity, the LoRaWAN network server is managing the data rate and RF output for each end-device individually by means of an adaptive data rate (ADR) scheme. Besides the technical advantages it also overs security support becoming highly relevant when sending around sensible information (e.g., IDs, positioning data). LoRaWAN supports encryption on different layers using unique network key for network level security, unique application key ensuring end-to-end security on application level, and device specific keys.

The task of this thesis is to design and prototype an object tracking solution using LoRaWAN strategy for data collection to offer the tracking App (OTIoT App) the position information of the object. In order to fulfill this task a chip specification must be performed to define what hardware is needed to establish a LoRaWAN for the planned tracking solution including RAM and ROM dimensions, communication protocols, bridges, interfaces (API), etc. Therefore, existing chip technologies must be analyzed and are used for comparison later on. As a next step data formats need to be specified in order to have the required data for the OTIoT App in correct order available. This also includes a formal API definition for handling incoming data from tracking devices to the envisioned backbone (OTIoT Infra- structure server) including HTTP server and database. Further the incoming data need to be stored in an efficient manner and access must controllable in order to have a trustworthy system at the end. Due to the fact that the positioning data includes sensible information the total communication way towards the back-end must be secured using the offered security support by LoRaWAN. Finally, the linkage to the OTIoT App must e established and the total object tracking solution will be evaluated and compared to existing solutions.


Final Report

20% Design, 60% Implementation, 20% Documentation

Supervisors: Dr. Corinna Schmitt

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