Scottish councils offered IoT accelerator packs

  • April 12, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Councils across Scotland are to be offered free intelligent lighting, waste management, air quality and social housing trials, potentially transforming the ways in which local communities live and work through access to real-time insightful data.

The funded IoT accelerator packs and access to the Scottish government backed national IoT network, IoT Scotland, will be offered to councils across the country, allowing them to investigate and evaluate the power of the IoT.

Working with each council, North, a UK IoT services provider, will host workshops to determine the services that will benefit most from smart services within each local authority area to create safer, more productive communities and environments, and deliver sustainable energy savings and cost efficiencies.

With councils set to benefit from a free 12-month trial, intelligent lighting should help them reduce their carbon footprint and operational costs using real-time data to monitor lighting requirements, while the installation of smart bins could align waste collection frequency with demand, reducing costs and emissions.

The ability to measure air quality either within council buildings or across a busy town centre will provide an insight into the scale of the problem and a means to measure the effectiveness of any steps taken to make improvements. Similarly, the use of sensors within social housing should improve living environments, ensuring parameters such as moisture control and ventilation are adequate and monitored, ensuring a healthy living environment for tenants while protecting the fabric of the building.

There will be no cost to councils for the sensor-based system provided, with deployment and support funded by North. The IoT accelerator packs will comprise sensors and the back-end services required to deploy the selected service, along with professional services to liaise with the council’s appointed contact to facilitate the rollout, before evaluating and capturing feedback.

IoT Scotland is a UK IoT network and it is hoped that through the accelerator packs councils will realise the benefits insightful and actional IoT data can deliver, driving the adoption of IoT technologies to change the lives of people throughout Scotland.

One council already adopting IoT technology through the IoT Scotland network is Highland Council, with schools, care homes, leisure centres and council offices among those being transformed into smart buildings. Through the use of smart IoT sensors, data and insights captured from within council buildings include the monitoring of CO2 levels, temperature, humidity, ventilation, energy consumption and light levels, and are set to reduce costs and carbon emissions, while improving the environment for young people, elderly care home residents, members of the local community and council staff.

“Scotland is leading the way in the use of IoT and, as we look to the future, the adoption of smart solutions, from our largest cities to our most remote villages, will connect communities across the country to enhance operations and existing systems,” said Alasdair Rettie, group technical director at North. “IoT technology has the power to truly transform our lives, from revolutionising the ways in which we work, to ensuring that we live in safe and healthy environments, with the ability to access real-time data, which allows us to make informed decisions to improve services across communities.”

He said the use of such services within councils provided opportunities and benefits.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide councils with this unique experience to see the potential unlocked through the application of our IoT accelerator packs,” he said.

Scottish government connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse added: “Across Scotland, the Scottish government funded IoT Scotland network plays a unique role in offering cost effective sensors to a range of applications, which will make a huge difference to public service delivery, people’s homes and working life. In enabling Scotland’s 32 councils to have free access to this digital sensor network, this unique proposition encourages early adoption, fosters better collaboration between local government and transforms how we use digital technology and data for the benefit of our communities.”

He said that digital connectivity, as critical national infrastructure, continued to play a fundamental role in Scotland’s economic and social recovery.

“But in many ways how we live our lives now, in responding to the pandemic, may have long term impacts on use of technology,” said Wheelhouse. “And during this current pandemic, by expanding the IoT Scotland network we continue to protect people’s health at work, home or school, especially those who are most vulnerable. This is a great opportunity for Scottish councils to fully embrace future-proofed IoT and data driven technologies and use the technology to innovate in service delivery and I fully support this initiative. As a direct result of better connectivity, I look forward to seeing the range of lasting benefits this network will bring and thanks go to all our partners in making this happen.”

Data gathered by these smart systems will remain the property of the council and all data will be handled in accordance with data protection and GDPR regulations. Councils will have the opportunity to pay to expand and continue the services after the initial 12 month period if they so wish.

North provides intelligent integrated technology that transforms the way people, organisations and places work. The business provides a breadth and depth of expertise across the IoT, networking, connectivity, safety and security.

In 2018, the Scottish government announced a £6m public-private partnership with North to deliver a national IoT network for Scotland. IoT Scotland provides affordable and accessible connectivity to over 35 per cent of Scotland’s businesses and organisations across cities, towns and rural areas enabling them to tap into the use of smart sensor technology.