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Scotland businesses set to benefit from the Internet of Things

Thursday 30 August 2018

For those uninitiated, the 'internet of things' or IoT is the latest buzz phrase to get to grips with where digital technology is concerned, and it's one that's sure to be around for some time.

It refers to physical devices connected to one another via a wireless sensor network, and according to the Scottish Government, they are at the cutting edge, having announced plans to spend £2.7 million on IoT Scotland, which will benefit business across the country as part of a wider £6 million project.

Boston Networks, experts in the field of wireless networks, infrastructures and 'intelligent buildings' are leading the project and have also invested the lion's share of the remaining £3.3 million for the project. 

The Scottish Government claim that the wide reaching network, National Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN), will be the most advanced in the UK and will initially be implemented across Scotland seven cities, before being filtered out to towns and rural areas. 

The theory is that it will make it easier to share information between devices, collect data and communicate without human intervention leading to better efficiency without the need for 4g or Wi-Fi. 

The network will enable all businesses to have the ability to monitor the efficiency and productivity of their assets, equipment, scheduling maintenance and improving production. This drive in innovation is set to benefit the public sector and private sectors across Scotland - for example, the network could monitor office environments to lower costs by saving energy, while reducing the carbon footprints of buildings.

However, significant concerns remain over security and privacy. Of course the Internet of Things is also a doubled-edged sword. With less intervention needed from humans, there is an argument that intelligent technology will, in some instances, negate the need for humans to perform certain tasks, leading to unemployment. On the other hand, it could just mean that the humans can dedicate more of their time to other tasks that the new technology can't deal with. 

Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, Kate Forbes said:

“The Internet of Things is set to transform every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to agriculture and presents an exciting opportunity to revolutionize the way businesses and the public sector across Scotland work.

“Our £2.7 million investment in this project underpins our vision of a Scotland that stimulates innovation, welcomes investment and promotes its digital industries. We want Scotland to be recognised internationally as a natural test bed for innovation in connectivity which is why we are investing in our digital infrastructure.

“As the network is rolled out across the country, it will enable companies to innovate, providing low-cost access to next-generation connectivity, helping organisations develop new solutions and devices with global export potential.

“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.”

Falk Bleyl, Chief Technology Officer, Boston Networks, stated: "The wide reaching network, which will be the most advanced in the UK, has the potential to revolutionise the use of smart technologies and will be rolled out in cities, towns and rural areas across the country. The network will allow a wide range of users, from small IoT start-ups to multinationals to focus on the deployment of sensors and applications, rather than network build.”