Scotland to get ‘most advanced’ internet of things network in the UK

Written by Jenni Davidson on 27 August 2018 in News

The new network will allow public bodies and businesses to exchange and analyse data from smart devices

Digital Scotland map - Image credit: Holyrood

Scotland is to get the “most advanced” internet of things (IoT) network in the UK as part of a £6m project.

The new network, called IoT Scotland, will allow the collection of data from smart devices through a wireless sensor network without the need for 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi.

Instead the network will use LoRa (long range), a wireless technology that uses certain radio bands to communicate over long distances at low power and low cost.

The £6m, three-year project has been funded with investment from both the public and private sectors.

The Scottish Government is contributing £2.7m, Scottish Enterprise is putting in £113,000 and Highlands and Islands Enterprise £30,000.

The remaining investment will come from Boston Networks, a company specialising in the design, installation and support of smart buildings, smart campuses and smart cities.

Boston Networks’ chief technology officer, Falk Bleyl, said: “Boston Networks is excited to be leading the pioneering project to build and operate the IoT network, which will drive the commercialisation of the internet of things across Scotland.

“The wide reaching network, which will be the most advanced in the UK, has the potential to revolutionise the use of smart technologies and will be rolled out in cities, towns and rural areas across the country.

“The network will allow a wide range of users, from small IoT start-ups to multinationals to focus on the deployment of sensors and applications, rather than network build.”

The internet of things is a network or ‘ecosystem’ of smart devices, such as home appliances, smart meters, driverless cars or smart traffic lights, bins and street lighting, that use sensors to collect and transmit data.

The IoT Scotland network could, for example, support more use of smart bins that let councils know when they are full and or be used by businesses to monitor their offices so they can save energy and reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings.

Linda Hanna, Managing Director at Scottish Enterprise, suggested the network would allow companies to capture business and customer data at the cost of “a few pence per month”.

Initially, the network will cover Scotland’s seven cities, Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, and Stirling, with the aim of expanding it throughout Scotland.

Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, Kate Forbes said the network would help “transform the potential for businesses and the public sector to explore sensor and imaging applications, to pilot their ideas and then launch… products and services into the global market”.

She said: “The internet of things is set to transform every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to agriculture and presents an exciting opportunity to revolutionise the way businesses and the public sector across Scotland work.

“Our £2.7 million investment in this project underpins our vision of a Scotland that stimulates innovation, welcomes investment and promotes its digital industries.

“We want Scotland to be recognised internationally as a natural test bed for innovation in connectivity which is why we are investing in our digital infrastructure.

“As the network is rolled out across the country, it will enable companies to innovate, providing low-cost access to next-generation connectivity, helping organisations develop new solutions and devices with global export potential.”

Ian Reid, CEO of CENSIS, the Scottish centre for sensor and imaging systems, highlighted predictions that there will be 25 billion IoT devices connected by 2025, with only a small number using 3G, 4G or WiFi.

He added: “Low power wide area networks like IoT Scotland are going to become increasingly important – they have the potential to be as disruptive to businesses as the internet has been already to our daily lives.”

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