Skip to main content

LoRaWAN Munich - LoRaWAN at CERN: From Covid Tracking to Radiation-Tolerant Accelerator Monitoring

Founded in 1954, CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. More than 17,500 people from around the world work together to push the limits of knowledge ( Deployment of a private LoRaWAN network at CERN started in 2019 to complement the sitewide Wi-Fi network and to meet a demand from our community of technologically advanced users. In addition to indoor coverage in our many buildings, we also provide coverage over around 60km2 of the surrounding area via outdoor gateways strategically positioned within the campus. Asset tracking, crane monitoring, mobile asset geo-localization, temperature sensors, security monitoring… LoRaWAN has become an enabler for data acquisition at reasonable cost where other networking solutions were either not available or couldn’t justify the investment in the necessary infrastructure. The world-wide pandemic that erupted in 2020 led CERN to develop an innovative proximity detector which sent near-real-time on contacts between personnel to CERN’s medical service via the LoRaWAN network, thus allowing contact tracing in the case of infection. With more than 10,000 active devices and acknowledgement required for each message, it ensuring compliance with LoRa regulations made network design and device configuration extremely challenging. Also challenging is the environment in the tunnels for CERN’s particle accelerators and detectors, the instruments used to uncover the secrets of the universe. The radiation levels whilst the accelerators are running rapidly damage any electronic equipment not conceived for such environments. LoRa-based sensors, though, enable measurements that would not otherwise be possible so CERN has developed a radiation-tolerant IoT platform based on LoRaWAN. First tested in 2021, more than 40 gateways today ensure the coverage of over 60km of tunnels and caverns enabling battery-powered sensors to be placed anywhere.