Four communities in Scotland are implementing low power, wide area (LPWA) Internet of Things networks based on LoRa technology and centred on Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, and Orkney (pictured).
A consortium of experts including CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, Stream Technologies and Boston Networks, will work with local partners at all of the sites to deploy the networks.
The LoRa technology makes it possible, for the first time, to realise the IoT across wide-ranging urban and rural areas, in a way that is both achievable and affordable.
Allowing a host of everyday, even small and battery-powered, objects to send and receive data efficiently and reliably, the LoRa network will enable companies, communities, and public services to develop a range of new products and services.
Deployed in urban and rural environments, for example, the network could be used to develop building and indoor environmental monitors, pollution sensors, tags for tracking valuable assets or livestock, and social care devices designed to support independent and assisted living.
News of the initiative comes as Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, announced at a Westminster Forum conference on 26 October 2016 that the Scottish Government is committed to making the country a leader in IoT technologies.
Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS, said: “Scotland has all the ingredients required to be a world-class digital location. As we roll out LoRa across the country, the affordable, open networks will give SMEs low-cost access to next-generation connectivity, helping them to grow through the development of new solutions and devices with global export potential.
“These new IoT networks will be a force for public good too, through the monitoring and protection of the vulnerable in society, as well as our historic sites and the environment. At the same time, they will open up opportunities for communities to develop their own solutions across a diverse set of potential applications.
“As we look to roll out the network through more urban and rural areas in Scotland, it will create a great deal of exciting opportunities for businesses and government across the country. It will also further our understanding of the potential benefits of this technology in both urban and rural economies. The IoT has the potential to be as disruptive as the internet has been already to daily life,” said Begbie.
The deployment of the LoRa network in Orkney will build on the island’s existing TV White Space (TVWS) technology, which uses VHF/UHF channels, released by the analogue TV switch-off, to transmit internet traffic wirelessly over long distances. It will complement this radio infrastructure for broadband delivery, by bringing top-of-the-range IoT connectivity to an island that has traditionally been right at the edge of internet and mobile networks.
Meanwhile, implementation throughout Paisley and parts of wider Renfrewshire will enhance the city’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. The network will be used to monitor local social housing for damp and help tackle fuel poverty, as well as many other potential applications.
Earlier this year, the consortium established LoRa networks in Glasgow and Inverness, the latter as part of Inverness Campus’s £13-million An Lòchran building. An Lòchran houses Scotland’s first digital demonstration centre, #hellodigital, to help people in business, education, and research across the Highlands and Islands make the most of broadband, IoT, and digital technologies.
Scott McEwan, chief executive of Boston Networks, commented: “Boston Networks are experts in the deployment of wireless technologies to solve many widely different connectivity challenges. The LoRa roll out offers open, secure, carrier-grade Low Power Wide Area connectivity to endless Smart Building, Smart City and Smart Community applications throughout Scotland’s remote and diverse landscape, which will benefit our people and businesses for years to come.”
Nigel Chadwick, CEO of Stream Technologies, added: “Scotland is demonstrating clear leadership in IoT technologies. Use of Stream’s IoT-XTM connectivity management platform, which enables LoRa deployments as well as satellite and cellular, is increasingly being adopted around the world for IoT connectivity and billing. Smart City enablement and societal benefits derived from IoT technology is accelerating at a spectacular speed and our technology is key to efficient, resilient and reliable IoT network deployment.”
See also: LoRa IoT network deployed at Inverness Campus in Scotland