The public sector innovation support organisation is in talks with two more councils regarding roll-out of LoRa networks in their areas
Smart city solutions will not come from rolling out a single connectivity option such as city-wide wi-fi, mobile cellular, Bluetooth or wide area LoRa networks but a blend of several, according to Mark Begbie, business development director of CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems.
Speaking to SmartCitiesWorld, he said: “There is an understanding now that it’s not about one solution. A city authority needs to use different approaches where appropriate and the important thing is to take all the various data feeds and bring them into one city management system.”
CENSIS was one of a consortium of organisations which recently rolled out a LoRa Internet of Things (IoT) network at the Inverness Campus in the Scottish Highlands and also across a 12km2 area of Glasgow. It is now in detailed discussions with two other councils to roll-out in their areas. “We are also in the proposition development phase of another larger test bed,” added Begbie. “We’re working to bring more LoRa deployments to more places.”
In addition, the centre is working with a number of companies on specific smart city-related projects, including how the IoT and LoRa can help tackle fuel poverty in the social housing sector as well as one focused on smart street lighting. It is also involved in a deployment of a smart waste system with British Bins in the Greater Glasgow area.
“It entails monitoring the level of waste in bins and then managing the removal of waste based on demand,” he said. “The killer aspect of LoRa here is twofold. If you are on cellular mobile connectivity, the unit used in bin monitoring can give you around 3,000 message reports in its battery life and cellular connection will cost you 50p per device per month. Moving to LoRa this goes up to around 30,000 reports in the battery life and the monthly connection cost comes down to 5-10p.”
Begbie said that the recent roll-out of the IoT network at An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus is already opening up conversations with councils and organisations in the area. The £13 million building, jointly owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the University of the Highlands and Islands and Scotland’s Rural College, houses the country’s first digital demonstration centre, #hellodigital.
CENSIS is now setting up open workshops with HIE to engage local companies. “It is about education but it is also about demand stimulation,” said Begbie. “We want to open people’s eyes to the art of the possible and trigger something to make them think how this technology could make a difference to their business, their life and their community.”
He adds: “CENSIS is a public sector innovation support organisation so the real driver in all of this is delivering a LoRa network of substance and scale and using that as a mechanism to accelerate companies to new use cases and demonstrate the real value it can bring to councils, housing authorities, agencies and other organisations.”
CENSIS will hold its third Technology Summit on 6 October 2016 at the Technology & Innovation Centre, Glasgow. The theme is Sensing in the Connected World.