The Scottish Government has announced a £6 million plan for a national long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) network to support the development of internet of things (IoT) applications.
It plans to invest £2.7 million in the three-year project, with £113,000 coming from Scottish Enterprise, £30,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the rest of the money from network infrastructure provider Boston Networks.
Named IoT Scotland, the network will have a longer reach than any LoRaWANs deployed so far in the UK. It will enable devices to collect and send data without the need for 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi and support the development of new IoT applications.
The Scottish Government said the network could support the country’s public and private services. It cited the possibility of increasing the use of smart bins that wirelessly inform local authorities when they need emptying, and the development of energy saving measures in office buildings.
Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes said: “We made a commitment in the 2017-18 Programme for Government to invest in a new wireless sensor network. This network supports full commercial use of IoT in Scotland and will help transform the potential for businesses and the public sector to explore sensor and imaging applications, to pilot their ideas and then launch proven, sustainable products and services into the global market.”
The project marks a further step in the deployment of LoRaWAN to support IoT initiatives. The Glasgow based Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems (CENSIS), which supports innovation in IoT technology, has championed the cause in recent years with the launch of a network in Glasgow in 2016 and a number of smaller scale projects around Scotland.
Its chief executive officer Ian Reid commented: “It is forecast that there will be 25 billion IoT devices connected by 2025 and only a small number will be connected to the internet using 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. 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.”
He added: “IoT will transform the business models of many industries of importance to the Scottish economy, either creating internal efficiencies or introducing new revenue streams. Businesses will be able to see in real time how products or services are performing or being used.
“We look forward to working with companies to help them explore the possibilities and potential of this new network.”
Boston Networks will be the service provider and said that a pricing plan for using the network should be published early next year, but it is expected to be less than £1 per month per sensor.
The network will enable communication between the devices and an IoT platform run by the service provider or customer organisation, and back to the end point depending on its capability, which could enable its remote control.
Glasgow and Inverness beginning
Deployment will begin around Glasgow and Inverness, extending into pockets of demand, especially where there are high rooftops to deploy gateways. The long term plan is for the network to extend through urban and rural areas.
Boston Networks said there has already been some interest in using it from the public sector, academia and business.
While the creation of IoT Scotland will be the most ambitious deployment of LoRaWAN so far, there has recently been news of investments on a significant scale by local authorities including Hull City Council, City of York Council and Norfolk County Council.
Image from US Federal Trade Commission, public domain through Wikimedia.
More detail of network added on receipt of further information from Boston Networks.