Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Project Title Hybrid LoRa Network for Underserved Community Internet (LUCI)
Amount Awarded USD 85,000
Dates covered by this report: 2021-12-22 to 2023-06-22
Report submission date 2024-02-15
Economies where project was implemented Malaysia
Project leader name
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nor Fadzilah Abdullah
Project Team
Prof. Ir Dr. Rosdiadee Nordin, UKM.
Dr. Asma' Abu Samah, UKM.
Dr. Haider Alobaidy, UKM.
Dr. Rozita Ibrahim, UKM.
Dr. Marco Zennaro, ICTP Italy.
Nur Amelia Abas, PPTC UKM.
Partner organization International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy (ICTP)

Project Summary

Rural residents are often devoid of Internet connectivity due to lack of infrastructure and the high installation costs of a terrestrial network. Currently, the Chini Lake shores house around 500 indigenous people distributed across six villages with no access to cellular tower communication coverage. This is mainly due to the challenging terrain profile and dense foliage. Therefore, a high availability but low-cost wireless communication infrastructure such as LoRa is the perfect solution in this scenario.

In this work, a novel Internet infrastructure based on a Hybrid LoRa network architecture is proposed. Specifically, this comprises an integrated LoRaWAN gateway, combined with Mesh LoRa architecture with text and voice messaging capability, as well as a cloud-based IoT platform. With this solution, the indigenous Orang Asli community in Chini Lake, Pahang, Malaysia will have access to digital contents through the messaging system for both literate and illiterate users, as well as water level alerts for mitigation of flooding and drought situations.

This project combined expertise from UKM and ICTP Italy in wireless communications with access to the indigenous community in Chini Lake, through the Chini Lake Research Centre (PPTC), UKM.

The project overcame difficult terrain by mounting a long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) gateway on a balloon, delivering connectivity solutions to remote communities.
The project overcame difficult terrain by mounting a long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) gateway on a balloon, delivering connectivity solutions to remote communities.

Table of Contents

Background and Justification

Chini Lake, better known locally as Tasik Chini, is a lake in Pekan District, Pahang, Malaysia. The 12,565-acre (5,085-hectare) Tasik Chini is the second largest freshwater lake in Peninsular Malaysia and is made up of a series of 12 lakes. Tasik Chini is one of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status sites in Malaysia. The lake shores are inhabited by an estimated 500 indigenous people of the Jakun tribe (also known as Orang Asli Jakun) community. The inhabited lake shores cover six villages, namely Kampung Gumum, Kampung Ulu Gumum, Kampung Tanjung Puput, Kampung Cendahan, Kampung Melai and Kampung Ulu Melai. Most households are engaged in agricultural-oriented occupations (52.8%), followed by forestry-oriented occupations (18.8%) and fisheries (11.3%) based on resources from the lake and the surrounding forests (Subhi et al. 2018). Some of these occupations produce materials for handicrafts. Some of the output of these occupations are used for the small-scale handicraft sector. However, it is revealed that only 1% of the population is involved in the entrepreneurial sector. The main challenge to expand the economy of scale is the lack of continuous monitoring from government and funding institutions, as well as not having a good channel of networking and platform to market their products and services (Bakar et al. 2019). The only source of formal education for children (age 7-12) of the Orang Asli settlement is the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini and they need to travel by boats to get to school daily.

Moreover, according to data from seven observation stations collected by Pusat Penyelidikan Tasik Chini (PPTC), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, monsoon seasons in Malaysia bring uneven distribution of rainfall that affect the water level at Chini Lake as flood and drought disturb the population and distribution of aquatic organisms at the lake (Hin & Othman 2020). According to Malaysian Meteorological Department, monsoon seasons in Malaysia can be categorized as Southwest Monsoon (May to September) and Northeast Monsoon (November to March). Northeast monsoon brings heavy rainfall around the east coast area of Peninsular Malaysia where Chini Lake is located. Thus, accurate water level information and prediction is vital as a warning system to the local communities and other stakeholders for subsequent mitigation actions. Currently, cellular connectivity is a big challenge at these Chini Lake villages due to its remote location and distance from development. The existing available base station (BS), located at latitude/longitude (3.430721, 102.922038) only serves the tourist hotspots and resort areas. Based on the terrain profile analysis between the existing base station to the Orang Asli settlement around Chini Lake and between the villages (as shown in Figure 1), the radio propagation paths to the villages are obstructed, despite the village located within 1-4 km away from the base station.

With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) has become a popular low-rate long-range radio communication technology. Sigfox, LoRa, and NB-IoT are the three competing LPWAN technologies for IoT deployment. Among the three technologies, one significant advantage of the LoRa ecosystem is its flexibility. Unlike Sigfox and NB-IoT, LoRa offers local network deployment through LoRa gateway with public network operation via cellular BSs or Wi-Fi access points. It also has the lowest deployment cost. Presently, LoRa networks are commonly deployed in a star or point-to-point topology, where each of the nodes communicates with a LoRa gateway that forwards the collected data to a network server. However, in some application scenarios, a much lighter protocol stack, relying only on node capabilities and without the presence of a gateway can be more suitable. For example, in the case when the end-device signals cannot communicate to the gateway because of obstacles or topography variations. To increase the ability of dynamic transmission between IoT devices, a method for organizing mesh LoRa topology has been proposed (Lundell et al. 2018, Dinh et al. 2018, López Escobar et al. 2020). Meanwhile, a hybrid LoRa Mesh/ LoRaWAN network has been proposed in (Almeida et al. 2020) by using a coordinator, known as Proxy node, that is responsible for the management of mesh routes and receive/forward mesh packets to the LoRaWAN gateways. In summary, the hybrid integration of the two networks will further extend the LoRa coverage and Internet connectivity to unserved areas. 

Project Implementation Narrative

The main technologies that are adopted in this project are LoRaWAN, Mesh LoRa and a data delivery using Internet of Things (IoT) platform. The main innovation is the combination of two LoRa networks namely LoRaWAN and Mesh LoRa that are originally standalone networks into a single hybrid and seamless network. The hybrid LoRa network offers several services such as text messaging, voice messaging, disaster alerts and a value-added data management platform that has never been attempted before. The integration of these technologies will be made possible using an interface node, known as the Proxy node with a specific on-demand routing protocol with access to both networks that previously do not have a line-of-sight (shadowed by terrain elevation and dense forest foliage).

Sensor nodes for the Chini Lake provided periodic readings to the LoRaWAN, which is updated in the IoT platforms through The Things Stack (TTS) and Telegram Bot. The Mesh LoRa nodes have access to the cloud and can get early warnings for flood or drought disaster mitigation. 

In summary, the project objectives are:

  1. Develop a multi-channel LoRaWAN gateway for water level monitoring.
  2. Design a Mesh LoRa architecture for two-way communication between villages and to the outside world.
  3. Integrate a hybrid LoRaWAN-Mesh LoRa network into an Internet of Things (IoT) platforms.

Several past field work activities at Chini have been conducted in March 2022, May 2022, August 2022 and February 2023. 

  • On 18-20 March 2022, site visit has been conducted to view the health of existing seven (7) water stations. 1 water station is completely down due to lost of access to fronthaul. Two water stations could be accessed due to bridges that have collapsed. A meeting with PPTC staff and State Forestry Division has been conducted to discuss the possibility of mounting the gateway at Bukit Ketaya.
A map of sites evaluated during the project.
A map of sites evaluated during the project.
  • On 27-29 May 2022, site visit to Bukit Ketaya to finalise the coordinates of the LoRaWAN gateway. Access to the hill is challenging due to past mining activity and required 4-wheel transport from State Forestry Division. A meeting with the indigenous community at several surrounding villages has also been conducted, and key personnel to help with measurement activity has been identified.
  • On 28 August - 2 September 2022, a field work and measurement activity using low altitude platform (LAP) helium balloon was conducted using the developed solution by UKM (Pycom devices) and an alternative solution by an industrial partner, NICT Japan. The balloon required repair patch work during inflation with helium gas. Logistics for the transportation of helium gas to the remote site was challenging and expensive. The coverage performance using car drive test and boat drive test has been completed. A conference paper based on this measurement activity was presented and published at the 25th International Symposium on Wireless Personal Multimedia Communications (WPMC 2022), that won a best paper award.
Team members during field work and measurement activities on 31 August 2022.
Team members during field work and measurement activities on 31 August 2022.
  • On 6-8 February 2023, we also conducted some LoRa measurement activity in Kuching, Sarawak, specifically in Mount Santubong, where there are concerns from the Sarawak Forestry Commission about lost travellers during hiking activity. Telecommunication services were a concern due to the challenging terrain and foliage.

Activities towards delivery of the final solution:

  • On 8-12 May 2023, field work for the installation of the mounting platform structure and LoRaWAN gateway at Bukit Ketaya, the highest point surrounding the Chini Lake was conducted in collaboration with the State Forestry Division. The multi-channel LoRaWAN gateway coverage testing and water level monitoring has been successfully completed. The deployment achieved a record-breaking 48km terrestrial P2P LoRaWAN coverage to Pekan town (Objective 1). LoRaWAN communication is facilitated through TTS (The Things Stack) for data processing and storage. It is integrated with MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) for seamless water-level data transmission. 
  • The GRA personnel have done 3-month attachment sponsored & located at ICTP Italy (6 September - 5 December 2023) to complete the Hybrid LoRa solution (Objective 2). Primary hardware in final Hybrid LoRa system is T-beam and T-Echo from LilyGo as mesh end nodes, Le Potato AML- S905X- CC as proxy node, MB7368 HRXL-MaxSonar-WRML water level sensor and RAK7249 Outdoor LoRaWAN Gateway. The proxy node relays water level data from TTN through MQTT protocol. 
  • Additionally, through engagement with ICTP, a new Telegram Bot solution, on top of the conventional TTS platform has been developed (Objective 3). The developed proxy node broadcasts water level data to community mesh network through the Telegram Bot. It is also equipped with a warning/danger water level alert mechanism to ensure timely broadcast within the community.
Installation of the mounting platform structure and LoRaWAN gateway at Bukit Ketaya, the highest point surrounding the Chini Lake was conducted in collaboration with the State Forestry Division.
Installation of the mounting platform structure and LoRaWAN gateway at Bukit Ketaya, the highest point surrounding the Chini Lake was conducted in collaboration with the State Forestry Division.

Members of the project attended the Workshop in Extreme Communication at ICTP Italy (20-24 November 2023) for global promotional and sharing of the solution. During the project closure meeting with PPTC in February 2024, the sharing of the final solution has been explained.

Beginning of project

A0: Project initiationKickoff meeting (1 day), hiring of postdoc researcher and PhD student.1
A1.1: Hardware selection and purchaseLocal source timeline (1-2 weeks), international source timeline (1-3 months)3
A1.2: Identify gateway locationIdentify balloon mounting location, application for flight approval, power source and antenna testing1

Middle of project

A1.3: Balloon setupPrepare anchoring points, balloon inflation, lifting payload testing1
A1.4: Water level sensor setupIdentify water level sensor locations, floater setup, initial sensor test1
A1.5: LoRaWAN cloud data management platform setupMQTT server and broker setup, cloud backend platform interface development1
A1.6: LoRaWAN sensor-to-cloud data collectionLoRaWAN configuration settings, sensor-to-cloud connectivity testing1
A1.7: LoRaWAN data processing and analysisSignal strength propagation analysis, water level sensor data analytics2
A2.1: Mesh LoRa routing protocol developmentOn demand routing protocol software development and packet structure2
A2.2: Mesh LoRa nodes setup for all villagesIdentify optimal mesh node locations for all villages. Implementation of Mesh LoRa protocol in hardware1
A2.3: Analysis on route discovery, route selection, route maintenance, and data forwarding strategyAnalysis on Mesh LoRa routing behaviors for all villages1
A2.4: Text & voice messaging testingSuccess rate and delay testing (text messaging), Compression and jitter testing (voice messaging)1
A2.5: Mesh LoRa data analyticsDuty cycle, scheduling, and utilization analysis. Journal 1 submission.2
A3.1: Proxy node setup and testingDetermine optimal Proxy node location with connectivity to LoRaWAN and mesh nodes. Development of Proxy node uplink and downlink procedures for mesh nodes2
A3.2: Hybrid LoRa integrationIntegration of LoRa Mesh to Proxy node to LoRaWAN1
A3.3: Water level alert system developmentWater level alert traffic flow testing: sensor - LoRaWAN gateway - cloud data management platform - villagers1
A3.4: Validation procedure under various use casesValidation of uplink and downlink traffic across Hybrid LoRa network. Journal 2 submission & Conference.1

End of project

A3.5: Value-added content developmentFramework of value-added contents into the cloud data management platform (e.g., local product & services promotion)1
A3.6: Overall Hybrid LoRa data analyticsOverall Hybrid LoRa network and application performance analysis under different use cases, scalabilities and environments2
A4: Project closureFinal reporting, project closure meeting, lessons learnt post-mortem, and continuity plans.1

Throughout the project

A4.1: Knowledge exchange and promotional activitiesKnowledge exchange (e.g., expert interviews, literature review, etc.), Promotional activities (e.g., stakeholder workshop, webinar, etc.)18

Project Review and Assessment

All project objectives have been completed. Specifically, 1) the multi-channel LoRaWAN and water level sensors are operating as expected. 2) Mesh LoRa for text messaging is also working and tested in lab and real-world environment. 3) All measurements can be forwarded in the IoT communication platform through TTS and Telegram Bot.

Among the most important findings in this project are the limitations of the helium LAP balloon and the issue of support of voice messaging in real-time deployment with the selected 923 MHz LoRa operating band due to very limited bandwidth. The codec2 compression technique have been used to transmit voice over the bandwidth limited LoRa frequency band. A fixed mounting pole at a high elevation offers the best solution for coverage and reliability. The use of the technical solution has been promoted to staff of PPTC and local community.

In terms of contribution to Internet development, this project has garnered interest from NICT Japan, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and research communities affiliated with ICTP Italy. NICT is interested on the use of LoRa network for real-time physiological and psychological wearable device for health monitoring using the Internet of Things (IoT). Meanwhile, SFC is interested to use LoRa for the National Park visitors’ safety tracker system with ubiquitous Internet connectivity. The main advantage of LoRa is the flexible design, with no dependency on complex telco infrastructure, as well as low power operations. Therefore, LoRa provides a low-cost and low-power solution to reduce the digital divide in underserved Internet communities. The project has also lived up to the potential for growth and further development based on interest from the aforementioned industries. The growth of development can also be seen in the aspect of user tracking for emergency situations, as seen by our engagement with SFC. During a workshop at ICTP Italy (November 2023), The King Abdullah University of Sceince & Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia has shared that they have recently purchased the Helikite balloon solution, that has not yet been implemented. Several team members from this project will be going to KAUST in March 2024, for knowledge transfer and sharing.

The project activities supported the development of local technical capacity by organizing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme on 21-22 October 2023 for indigenous students aged 10-12 years in the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini.  We have developed a training module on programming and wireless technology and conducted training of trainers (ToT) in early June 2023 for facilitators of this programme. A hardcopy book on the module have been provided free of charge (funded by this project grant) to the program participants.

The project organized a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme on 21-22 October 2023 for indigenous students aged 10-12 years in the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini.
The project organized a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme on 21-22 October 2023 for indigenous students aged 10-12 years in the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini.
The project organized a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme on 21-22 October 2023 for indigenous students aged 10-12 years in the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini.
The project organized a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme on 21-22 October 2023 for indigenous students aged 10-12 years in the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini.

Besides the tethered balloon low-altitude platform (LAP) solution, there has been ongoing research for a space-air-ground (SAG) network combining satellites, high altitude platform (HAP), LAP, drones and terrestrial networks, which is an avenue for further performance improvement to cater for all user scenarios and requirements, regardless of data rate, coverage or locations.  

The project has helped build the capacity of new postgraduate students at the Wireless Research@UKM group and researchers at the Department of Electrical, Electronic & Systems Engineering, UKM, through the several upskilling seminars that were conducted in October, November and December 2022, as well as August, September, October and November 2023.

Through multi-disciplinary expertise and close relationship with the local community through the UKM's satellite campus (PPTC), this has ensured the smooth planning of activities and success of project design, management, and implementation.

Diversity and Inclusion

The project benefited from the diversity of both women (3 researchers) and men (2 researchers), which represented a balanced and neutral perspective regarding the open science concept that this project aimed to develop. All researchers are also within the age of 37-42 years, therefore the sustainability of the project for many years in the few years, which is in line with the goal from UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which is expected to be achieved by 2030. In addition, the project also consisted of members from multiple areas of expertise that can contribute to knowledge transfer in several STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas, thus creating a good mix of transdisciplinary research members. The Internet infrastructure can be used as a promotional and e-commerce interface that can enhance the community productivity, access to better health services, better promotion of products and services and women entrepreneurship empowerment and. Besides that, with the Internet connectivity, it makes it more accessible for online education contents and conducting STEM activities to the local primary school children at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini, Pahang. 

Several upskilling seminars/activities have been conducted with gender distribution as follows:

1) Upskilling seminar 1: Accurate drone landing (access to online training materials) (2 participants): 1 female staff & 1 male student. Fully funded by ISIF Asia grant.
2) Upskilling seminar 2: Wireless communication (21-23 November 2022) (17 participants): 3 male staff, 3 female staff, 9 male students & 2 female students. Fully funded by ISIF Asia grant.
3) Upskilling seminar 3: AI & data analytics (6-8 December 2022) (25 participants): 1 male staff, 2 female staff, 13 male students & 9 female students. Fully funded by ISIF Asia grant.
4a) ISIF Asia grant application coaching & sharing session (25 June 2022) (9 participants): 5 male staff & 5 female staff. University own funding.
4b) ISIF Asia grant application coaching & sharing session (13 April 2023) (online webinar). University own funding.
5) Research attachment in UK (Aug – Sep 2023) (3 participants): 1 male staff & 2 female staff. Partially funded by ISIF Asia grant.
6a) Training Program at ICTP Italy (Sep – Dec 2023): 1 female staff & 1 female student. Fully funded by ICTP Italy.
6b) Workshop in Extreme Communication at ICTP Italy (20-24 November 2023) (3 participants): 1 male staff, 2 female staff & 1 female student. Partially funded by ISIF Asia grant.

Project Communication

The project has been promoted through various platforms such as webinar organised by University of Sussex UK in March 2023, University and Faculty social media accounts, departmental bulletin, and research databases of open access journals and conference portals. In addition, the project team members are fellow and members of a number of organizations such as MCMC’s Malaysian Technical Standards Forum Bhd (MTSFB), Akademi Sains Malaysia (ASM), ICTP and ISOC. Thus, knowledge sharing and lobbying to these organizations were also part of the communication strategy. The project heavily involved collaboration with the technical staff and officers at UKM’s PPTC who has close link with the community, as well as an outreach workshop to the indigenous community through the STEM program with the local school. This project reached out to the most marginalized and difficult to reach populations, that currently not only has limited access to basic needs such as electricity and water scarcity, but also far away from healthcare facilities and has limited education opportunities. 

The output of the project has been promoted through international engagement during ICTP's Workshop on Communication in Extreme Environments for Science and Sustainable Development in 20-24 November 2023. Besides that, academic publications such as IEEE 20th Student Conference on Research and Development (SCOReD 2022), that was held in Bangi Resort Hotel, Selangor, Malaysia on 8 -9 November 2022, which can be accessed at and IEEE Internet of Things Journal, vol. 9 issue 20, which can be accessed at The grant fund has also been used for publication of MLOE (Machine Learning-based Online Coverage Estimator) that has been developed, which can be accessed at

We have engaged the indigenous local community through the primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tasik Chini by conducting a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme.  The STEM programme has been successfully conducted on 20-23 October 2023 at Tasik Chini, with 20 students aged 10-12 years, to deliver technical modules and create awareness related to programming, wireless communication and machine learning.

Project Sustainability

In this project, a Telegram bot has been developed to inform end users on water monitoring alerts. Any end users only needed Internet access and to subscribe to the channel to get these notifications. During project closure, the custodian of UKM's PPTC has been briefed on the use of the Telegram bot.

The project has generated new funding through the ICTP/IAEA Sandwich Training Education Programme for 3 years (2023-2026). Besides that, Dr. Asma' Abu Samah, a member of this project has also secured funding from ICT Virtual Organization of ASEAN Institutes and NICT (ASEAN IVO) entitled "P2EI-WEALTH (Physiological and Psychological Edge Intelligence WEArable LoRa HealTH) System for Remote Indigenous Community and Disaster Recovery Operations", running from June 2022 until December 2024, which is a closely linked to this project.

As of 2017, the indigenous peoples, also known as Orang Asli of Malaysia, were estimated to account for around 13.8% of the 31,660,700 million national population (i.e. around 4.4 million people). The Orang Asli account for 198,000 or 0.7% of the population of Peninsular Malaysia (31,005,066). They constitute around 1,932,600 or 70.5% of Sarawak’s population of 2,707,600 people and 2,233,100 or 58.6% of Sabah’s population of 3,813,200. Therefore, there is a huge prospect for adoption of the solution from this project for other Orang Asli settlements. We see a huge potential for application of continuation grant based on post-deployment user feedback and impact analysis. Some possible avenues for extension are IoT platform improvements, sustainable LAP exploration (e.g., renewable energy utilization, longer floating capability), social innovation (e.g., new entrepreneur market, quality of life improvements), lobbying activities and invitation of new partners from government or industrial agencies, and NGOs. Maintaining relationships with the customer can be approached through conducting trainings (e.g., network monitoring, adding new sensors, introduction of other data management platform, entrepreneurship training), conducting technical visits as part of university course syllabus, as well as research and industrial attachments locally.

Project Management

Overall, there are five scientists in this grant application. Nor Fadzilah, as the leader of the project, is responsible to initiate project activities kickoff meeting, work delegation and the novel Mesh LoRa network and integration of the Hybrid LoRa network. Rosdiadee, who has ample experience with LoRa implementation in various environments is responsible for the deployment of low altitude platform and sensor network. Asma’ has a technical role in the implementation of the LoRaWAN system at site, performance test, and coordination with social scientists at PPTC. Marco is responsible for the development of text and voice-based messaging and integration to the cloud platform. Rozita, who has a close relationship with PPTC and the Orang Asli community in Chini Lake is responsible for consultation, expert advice, and communications with the community.

Governance of the project is through close monitoring of the project activities, milestones and mitigating project risks. The risk can be divided into three categories: technical, financial and timing with details below:

1) Technical (low risk): Hybrid LoRa is a new area that has not been implemented in a realistic environment, previous research is not a complete solution (only Mesh Lora connected to Proxy node, not to LoRaWAN or cloud). Mitigation: two full time and competent researchers with access to site are hired to ensure the success of the project.

2) Financial (medium risk): delay delivery of equipment. Mitigation: secure as much as possible local products and services that can be purchased through trusted online platform

3) Timing (high risk): limited access to site location if pandemic lockdown is implemented. Mitigation: arrange inter-state travel permit with nearest police station in advance.

Any issues regarding the project are escalated quickly for quick decision making and mitigation actions. Technical risks were managed within the team with plenty of experience with LoRa network. Financial risk is mitigated through assistance from Treasury UKM for the expedition of processes. Meanwhile, timing risk was managed with strict monitoring of the presented detailed timeline of project activities.

Project Recommendations and Use of Findings

1) The project findings and lessons learned affected informed decision-making in several ways:

·        Identifying technical challenges: During the helium balloon LAP deployment conducted in August 2022, we encountered several technical challenges, such as logistics issues for the transportation of helium gas to a remote area, several air holes were discovered during the inflation of the Helikite balloon, and the dissipation of the helium gas affected by weather conditions that required refill in 28 days. Therefore, we have changed the future network design and deployment strategies of the project solution using a fixed structure at Ketaya Hill (i.e., Bukit Ketaya), which has a high elevation of 209 meters above sea level. This is higher than the 120 meters tethered balloon elevation limit for DCA approval.

·        Assessing user needs: The project involved working closely with the indigenous communities staying at the six (6) villages surrounding Chini Lake. Based on the conversations with the local community, it is found that internet connectivity is critical during the pandemic situation, especially for education at the primary school (SK Tasik Chini), in Gumum village. Lessons learned from this process motivate our informed decisions to conduct the drive test measurements throughout the surrounding area. Based on the understanding of the demographics of the users and critical locations for Internet connectivity, the solution will prioritise on designing the LoRa network to best serve the needs of the community.

·        Evaluating network performance: The project involved testing and evaluating the performance of the LoRa network in real-world conditions. Findings related to network reliability, bandwidth, and latency provide informed decisions to expand the initial network topology for larger coverage distances using higher spreading factor (SF12) and to modify the network design to include multihop communication to improve performance.

2) We have shared the project findings with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), and they are interested in using the solution for National Park visitors’ safety tracker system to tackle issues such as:

  • There is a lack or limited cellular coverage in Sarawak’s Nature Reserve due to the challenging terrain and foliage profile.
  • There is no solution that enables communication between the main backend monitoring system by the SFC headquarters, gateways and nodes.
  • There is no existing tracker system to monitor the visitors’ safety and whereabouts in dense forests.
  • There is no contingency plan in the case of an emergency in search and rescue (SAR) if the visitors are missing or out of coverage area while exploring the forest.

Therefore, site visit and measurement has been conducted at 2 nature reserve areas in Kuching, Sarawak to estimate the network requirements and performance.

3) Besides that, several promotional, sharing session and capacity building activities have been conducted, such as Research attachment at UK (August - September 2023), STEM Program to indigenous community primary school at Chini Lake (October 2023), collaboration meeting at NTU Singapore (October 2023) and Workshop on Extreme Communication at ICTP Italy (November 2023).

4) Several aspects of project design, management, and implementation are particularly important for the project's success:

  • Community engagement: Given that the project aimed to provide internet connectivity to underserved communities, community engagement was a critical aspect of project design, management, and implementation. Engaging with the community from the outset, identifying their needs and requirements, and involving them in the decision-making process help ensure that the project is responsive to their needs and has a greater chance of success. Each time we conducted any planned activities in the indigenous living area, permission has been obtained from the Head of the villages.
  • Network architecture: The design and implementation of the hybrid LoRa architecture required careful planning, testing, and iteration to ensure that it was reliable, scalable, and cost-effective. The main challenge is due to the lack of real environments deployment in challenging propagation characteristics and remote areas.
  • Project management: The projects involved multiple stakeholders, technical challenges, and tight deadlines. Strong project management help ensure that tasks are completed on time, resources are allocated effectively, and risks are managed appropriately.
  • Technical expertise: The successful implementation of this project required technical expertise in areas such as networking, wireless communication, and data analytics. We also have access to technical experts from ICTP Italy, MIMOS, and NICT Japan that has provided guidance and support during the project planning and implementation.


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