With the recent successes of the IP500 Alliance  a new chapter in the IoT market for commercial buildings has started. Key manufacturers (global players) of security products started writing this chapter about ten years ago.
Just remember: At the time, other wireless IoT standards were trying to win over the IoT market. This has partly succeeded for the smart home market and is currently being tried in the wide area IoT market for smart city applications. Nevertheless, the gap between known wireless IoT systems for end users and the required standards in the commercial sector is enormous. Why? — Because technical challenges must work together in the overall picture of a wireless IoT platform.
This means that different requirements must be supported by a wireless IoT platform at the same time; For example, a very low time delay (latency) in the IoT network and at the same time as a high data rate and transmission range, and this must be robust, secure and with a low energy budget for battery powered sensors. At first glance, this does not seem possible — but it is possible if the entire system is repeatedly coordinated between the application and the solution.
If a developer only wants to operate a certain IoT application, it is sufficient to concentrate on a few or maybe even one technical parameter, e.g. long range. However, if additional high data rates and low latency are required at the same time, other suitable wireless standards for this IoT application are not available as an IoT platform. Users experience this with other wireless IoT standards; they find themselves »caught« in a certain application when they want to implement new functions or expand the range of applications in the same IoT network.
The IoT Revolution can Begin
Since the beginning, the aim of the IP500 Alliance was to establish a wireless IoT platform that can network all smart sensor applications in a building in one and the same infrastructure. Comparable to the WLAN standard, which has established itself as the wireless standard for IT applications (Figure 1).
If you consider all the applications in commercial buildings, the security applications in an IoT network are of supreme importance. This requires interoperability of all IP500 products, no matter which manufacturer makes such sensing / acting devices.
The IP500 Alliance has consistently implemented this idea over the years and has defined the »best-in-class« wireless technology in a clever constellation with the network layer and the IoT infrastructure into the specifications of the IP500 standard. These specs were then implemented by partners in products that are available today, e.g. wireless modules (CNX200, Figure 2) and gateways (GW260).
Endurance and strong Partners pay off
Through close cooperation with the certification bodies TÜV Rheinland and the Association of Property Insurers (VdS), the system view and important safety standards were kept in focus during the development of the IP500 standard. The result is now revolutionizing the IoT world, with maximum robustness, security, scalability and performance in wireless communication, in IoT network technology and its infrastructure.
Unaffected by other existing wireless IoT standards, which were developed primarily through the bottom-up strategy of the IC and network manufacturers, the IP500 Alliance with its members and partners has created the wireless IoT platform IP500 from the system level point of view. The IP500 standard has been brought into line with the security standards that are decisive for the system level and has been approved by the relevant certification bodies, e.g. the VdS. As a result, the IP500 standard is unique worldwide today in that it is able to provide a wireless IoT standard as a platform that can simultaneously meet the highest performance demands in the IoT network and is pre-compliant with European norms, e.g. EN 50131-5-3 .
Demands of Users and Standards for Wireless-Based-Security Applications
From the beginning of development, the requirements and standards for critical applications in a commercial building — access control, fire detectors, etc. — were given priority in the IP500 standard. At the same time, the best-in-class IoT technologies were correlated with these requirements and embedded in the IP500 specification. This top-down process, from a system perspective, has ensured that the IP500 standard is guaranteed to meet the requirements of target applications. The main driving factors of these applications in commercial buildings are:
- Highest robustness of wireless connection in the commercial and industrial environments.
- Maximum security in data transmission, including key management.
- Short response time (latency) between sensors, actuators and the infrastructure (gateways).
- High data rate with a long wireless range.
- Scalable and robust meshed network architecture (mesh topology).
- Energy and battery management.
- Interoperability between all OEM products.
- Redundant network topology including gateways with databases.
- Most standardization committees for wireless IoT systems have started from the perspective of RF (radio frequency) transceiver ICs (integrated chip), that is, »bottom up«. This means that the IC manufacturers have followed the IEEE 802.15.4 (x) standard and developed the corresponding IoT ICs, as have the network manufacturers and the software developers. However, the layers for bit transmission (PHY — Physical) and security (MAC — Media Access Control) are only roughly described in the IEEE standard — and they have no relation to the application and its requirements.
Developers and users must observe and also comply with the legal requirements regarding frequency usage in the respective countries. However, these rules pose enormous challenges for wireless IoT systems.
If you look at the 2.4 GHz range, for example, it is very busy, especially through streaming applications with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In comparison, the sub-GHz range only offers narrow channels and the usable frequency bands differ from region to region.
To meet these challenges, the IP500 Alliance has specified a dual-band process that offers high data rates in the 2.4 GHz band and a long range in the sub-GHz range.
Due to the asynchronous, meshed dual-band network, additional robustness and redundancy for the transmission of sensor data is achieved even in a very difficult environments. The data packets are cryptographically encrypted so that the IP500 standard combines performance and security in a wireless IoT network.