The first sites of an Internet of Things (IoT) network have gone live in ten of the UK’s largest cities in a bid to improve services, reduce costs and protect people.
The network launch comes half a year after Arqiva, the communications infrastructure company, partnered with SIGFOX, an IoT connectivity provider, to make it simple and affordable for cities to connect millions of devices.
According to Wendy McMillan, managing director of smart metering and machine-to-machine solutions at Arqiva, existing connectivity such as street-level Wi-Fi allows for intelligent application creation which can deliver strong benefits such as street parking, waste level monitoring and connected smoke alarms.
“We’ve made a call that we should put the infrastructure in place and then work on all the ways in which it might be usable, and we’re the only ones to have done this in the UK to this degree and scale at this point,” McMillan told E&T.
The network has been designed to reduce costs and energy-use barriers to widespread adoption of the IoT by British municipalities and companies. For example, in France, local authorities are putting in place monitors that check when bins are full, thus cutting 40 per cent of their waste collection costs and avoiding overflowing bins. Such projected benefits and initiatives are expected to span across the UK.
“I think the key is that the network will make a difference to people’s lives or to the business that deploy it. I expect there is a great deal of innovation and creativity to come across all sectors as to the range of benefits that could result from connecting things that are out there,” McMillan told E&T.
“The awareness of the general population is relatively limited at this point in time, although in technology spheres IoT is spoken about a great deal and it is becoming a real focus for all different parts of the industry,” she added.
The ten UK cities with live sites from December onwards are Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Sheffield. Long-term plans include further nationwide coverage that will drive UK to become one of the leaders in the IoT space.