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Scottish Highlands connects to the IoT

The consortium behind the network aims to expand its use to help organisations across the Highlands to access IoT technologies

The An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus, home to the IoT network
The An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus, home to the IoT network

A consortium of companies has launched the Highlands' first fully functional LoRaWAN IoT network

The An Lòchran building houses the country's first digital demonstration centre, #hellodigital

Long-range, affordable and low power IoT technology will open up possibilities for businesses across all sectors

The first fully functional Internet of Things (IoT) network has been opened in the Scottish Highlands at the new £13-million An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus. The campus, which has been specifically designed to encourage collaboration between business, research and academia, also houses the country’s first digital demonstration centre, #hellodigital, to help organisations make the most of broadband and digital technology.


A number of organisations have collaborated on the low power, wide area IoT network, including: CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems; Stream Technologies; and SPICA Technologies.


Ten LoRa indoor environmental-monitoring devices have been installed at An Lòchran (Gaelic for The Lamp/Lantern). The building is jointly owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and Scotland’s Rural College.


Monitoring a range of data – including temperature, humidity, CO2 emissions, noise, and light – the network will help its owners and occupants make better decisions about how they manage the building, through data visualisation and analytics. It will also allow businesses in the Highlands to access emerging IoT technologies and support companies in developing new products and services.


The consortium aims to expand the network beyond the An Lòchran building, helping energy, life sciences, digital and agricultural businesses in the local area to embrace its potential. CENSIS said it will hold a series of workshops at the Inverness Campus during the project’s initial six months to help Highlands SMEs to understand how they can make use of the new LoRa technology to enable the IoT.


Other occupants of An Lòchran include renewables organisation and HIE subsidiary, Wave Energy Scotland, the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) and Interface, the service that builds links between business and universities.


“This project in Inverness is bringing the cutting edge of the IoT revolution right to the heart of our highland community, putting it in the vanguard of IoT development in the UK,” said Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS. "Building on foundations laid by other initiatives, we are delivering the infrastructure to enable our communities and businesses to work with leading experts to connect devices, share data and bring about better decision-making.


“As we look to roll out the network through urban and rural areas, we will create exciting opportunities for businesses in the Highlands and Islands. Long range, affordable and low power IoT connectivity will open up enormous possibilities across all sectors: from agricultural and environmental monitoring, to safer social care and more efficient transport and infrastructure. This will also enhance our understanding of the potential benefits of this technology in a rural economy.


“With fewer than 10 per cent of the predicted 30 billion nodes by 2020 likely to be connected to the internet using cellular technology, networks like LoRa are going to become increasingly important. It has the potential to be as disruptive to businesses as the internet has been already to daily life – and the Highlands is leading the way.”


Earlier this year, CENSIS announced it had created an IoT network in Glasgow, with a consortium of organisations, including: Stream Technologies, Semtech, Boston Networks, Glasgow University, Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University. It covers 12km2 across the city, including the commercial centre, Merchant City and the West End.



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