Digital Catapult launches government-supported IoT network

Digital Catapult has launched Digital Catapult Things Connected, an innovation support programme that will ensure London is open and ready to innovate with the Internet of Things (IoT).

The programme will empower digital startups and SMEs to embrace the opportunities of IoT, and help drive innovation that will transform lives across the capital.

Things Connected will initially provide 50 LoRaWAN base stations located across London to establish the UK’s largest IoT LoRaWAN network. Free to use, the programme will provide a testbed to support evolving IoT technologies in its roll out.  LoRaWAN is the first phase of the testbed and additional low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies will be included as the network develops.

To deliver Things Connected in the capital, Digital Catapult will be working in collaboration with BT, Future Cities Catapult, Everynet, Beecham Research, AllThingsTalk, BRE, Imperial College London, King’s College London, UCL  and Queen Mary University of London.

Things Connected has the potential to drive experimentation and innovation in IoT, areas include but are not restricted to infrastructure provision, traffic and transport services, energy management and environmental sensing, with examples that include:

  • Lessen the risk for vulnerable road-users, including cyclists: By connecting data from multiple sensors, including that from pedestrian footfall counts, crash-impact incidents from bike-frame sensors and traffic congestion feeds, could allow service providers to develop a ‘safer journey’ planner for critical areas of Central London.
  • Improve the quality of life for COPD and asthma sufferers: By offering a more cost-effective communication network, service providers delivering environmental quality analysis could access a much richer and more detailed network of multiple sensor data-points across London, in areas giving temperature, air quality and humidity. By having greater knowledge of their environment, COPD and asthma sufferers could better prepare for the day and manage their symptoms more proactively.
  • Optimising delivery drones: The way in which items are delivered is likely to be transformed over the comings years, thanks to advances in drone technology. To help this become a reality, the deployment of micro wind speed and turbulence sensors across London could help with the routing and battery optimisation. This has the potential to further increase viability of drones as a means for delivering items quickly and efficiently across the capital.

Things Connected will drive the London LPWAN ecosystem by lowering barriers to access for entrepreneurs and SMEs, and will look to empower them with the knowledge and skills to become quickly productive and innovative through the use of LPWANs. With decreased power requirements, longer range and lower cost than a mobile network, LPWANs enable a much wider range of IoT applications, which have been constrained by budgets and power issues.

With the UK IoT marketplace currently worth £13.3bn, and expected to rise to £20bn by 2018, the launch of Things Connected in London is the first step to create a national innovation support programme for LPWAN testbeds. The aim is to replicate this experience in a number of UK regions to support local IoT sector growth, and develop applications relevant for the local community.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, said: “London is already a global force in the tech and digital industries but if we are to stay competitive, increase productivity and make the most of opportunities for growth in this crucial sector, innovation is key. Digital Catapult Things Connected will help to drive business innovation by embracing Internet of Things technologies across London. By continuing to make our city smart and connected, we are showing that London is Open as we work to improve the lives and wellbeing of many by tackling the big issues we face in healthcare, transport and energy.”

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