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Digital Catapult targets IoT shake up with London network launch

Neil Merrett Published 20 September 2016

Partnership formed with tech companies and academic institutions aims to provide 50 LPWAN base stations around capital to try and drive service innovation and uptake


A free to use Internet of Things (IoT) network has been launched in London today as part of a strategy to support start up organisations, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in pushing forward with innovative digital services and data use.

The Digital Catapult organisation, established to look at the unique challenges facing the sharing of personal, closed and licensed data, will work with public and private sector bodies to make better use of IoT technologies for infrastructure provision, transport services and environmental sensors.

Under the ‘Digital Catapult Things Connected’ programme, 50 LoRaWAN Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) base stations have initially been established around London to support IoT technologies and related programmes.  Further LPWAN devices will be provided at a later date to expand the network, which is supported as part of a partnership including organisations such as BT, Everynet, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London and UCL.

With IoT analyst Machina Research estimating the UK marketplace for IoT at around £13.3bn, a figure that could rise by around 50% in the next two years, organisers hope the network project may support similar test beds for other cities moving forward.

“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,” said a statement on the network launch.

The broad focuses of the project include bringing together data from various sensors measuring pedestrian and cyclist data to provide safer route planning, as well as improving the cost effectiveness and complexity of information used for environmental analysis.

Another potential innovation could be in supporting the future development of drone delivery services, for example, by deploying and linking up micro wind and turbulence sensors to improve viability for increased use of such technology in the capital.

London’s deputy mayor of business, Rajesh Agrawal, said the base units and wider support of IoT would allow organisations around the city to better realise opportunities afforded by future innovation. 

“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,” he said.

Digital Catapult chief executive Jeremy Silver said that after launching in London, the Things Connected programme would aim to accelerate the adoption of IoT technologies and services nationally.

“[The network] empowers London’s terrific tech community to test their IoT innovations so they can begin to improve the quality of life for those living or working across the capital,” said Silver. “This is the beginning of our work. We aim to roll Things Connected out to help remove the barriers to IoT technology for businesses, and create new revenue opportunities for entrepreneurs and for smaller and larger companies.”

Tracy Hopkins, general manager of connectivity company Everynet, said that its network solutions would help underpin the early phase of the project, while also providing assistance to SMEs looking to develop new products.

“This network will enable both application and sensor companies to develop LoRaWAN products and test them with ease, the Things Connected testbed will drive innovation and contribute to a growing ecosystem that will ultimately deliver scale for the IoT."

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