Glasgow leads Internet of Things connectivity with new LoRa network
Written by: Mark Venables | Published:

Glasgow is paving the way for the next wave of internet technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), thanks to a collaborative project involving Stream Technologies, Semtech, Boston Networks and CENSIS.

Working with Glasgow University, Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University, the group has installed a wireless IoT network covering 12km2 across the city, including the 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.

Currently being used to monitor air quality and enhance intelligent transport systems, the introduction of Semtech’s LoRa geolocation solution is helping deliver the next phase of the technology, with capabilities not previously available. The network can now identify the location of devices without requiring more 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 low power wide area network technology, known as 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. 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.

“This is an exciting development in the story of the IoT and the next wave of internet technology,” Nigel Chadwick, CEO of Stream Technologies, said. “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. That might sound like it is purely focused on technology companies, but the network could be used by practically any organisation.”

Semtech is behind the LoRa technology for IoT applications and has just announced the addition of geolocation capability of devices when messages are received by several base stations.

Richard Lansdowne, senior director of Network System Solutions for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Product Group, said: “Semtech needed a representative deployment in both urban and non-urban environments to extensively test our new LoRa geolocation hardware and software, and since the other members of this collaboration have already been successfully working together with LoRaWAN for some time, this was a great opportunity to do so. This project is a valuable opportunity for our team and has helped move the successful deployment of our LoRa geolocation solution forward.”

Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS, explained that this wasn’t about providing faster broadband to businesses, but connecting devices that are currently excluded from the internet and providing services that are not currently possible. “LoRaWAN technology is set to address some of the key challenges in the IoT, making long-term battery-powered wireless monitoring possible, with the additional benefit of real-time location information,” he said.

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