The network will enable the development and use of a wide range of devices from building and indoor environmental monitors and pollution sensors to social care aids designed to support independent living
A group of tech companies including Stream Technologies, Semtech, Boston Networks and the Innovation Centre for Sensor & Imaging Systems (CENSIS) are collaborating to demonstrate how LoRa sensor networks can be developed and deployed across Scotland.
Working with Glasgow University, Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University, the consortium has installed a wireless IoT network covering 12km2 across Glasgow, including the city’s commercial centre, Merchant City and the West End.
The network will enable the development and use of devices such as building and indoor environmental monitors, pollution sensors, tags for tracking valuable assets and social care devices designed to support independent living.
Glasgow was chosen as the ideal test bed because of its similarities to many major metropolitan areas worldwide. The city includes a grid system like major US conurbations, older historic spaces and a mix of urban and extra-urban environments, all of which are ideal for testing low-power radio network performance.
The low power wide area network technology (LoRaWAN) can be used in circumstances as diverse as healthcare providers tracking the behaviour of patients living with dementia, or by waste operators to monitor the location of their skips across a city.
“This is an exciting development in the story of the IoT and the next wave of internet technology,” said Nigel Chadwick, CEO of Stream Technologies. “The LoRaWAN network we’ve set up in Glasgow is one of the most advanced in the world and is the perfect demonstrator for how it can be rolled out across other cities.
“The model will allow businesses to start up their own IoT networks with just one or two devices, and scale-up to the point where they have hundreds, or even thousands, of connected ‘things’,” he continued. “That might sound like it is purely focused on technology companies, but the network could be used by practically any organisation, or even individuals.”
Currently being used to monitor air quality and enhance intelligent transport systems, introduction of Semtech’s LoRa geolocation solution is helping deliver the next phase of the technology, with capabilities not previously available. The combination of three-kilometre urban range, five-year battery life potential and location determination without power drain, will be transformative in enabling IoT connectivity to new types of device and application.
The network can now identify the location of devices without requiring extra battery power, opening up a host of new applications. The system provides a much lower power and cheaper way of connecting previously isolated devices, giving the public, developers and businesses the ability to create their own IoT infrastructure to develop and demonstrate new business solutions.
The consortium reckons access to this network could attract multinational technology companies to Glasgow – as well as encourage a cluster of new businesses to form in the city – as they seek to exploit the technology and develop new products, applications and services on the back of its implementation.
The consortium is also working on the installation of a similar sensor network in Inverness to monitor conditions in more rural environments.