The promise of the Internet of Things is to bring improved convenience and comfort to daily life with connections to sensors and devices, which can be monitored and managed smartly. [Engerati-Energy Sector Leads Internet of Things]
Potential applications are as broad as one’s imagination, and range from smart homes at the smallest scale through smart communities up to smart cities and beyond, limited only by the abilities of the technologies and the size of the funding.
The energy sector has been very much at the forefront of the move to an Internet of Things with smart metering and the smart grid. In some of the earliest IoT projects these have been linked with other energy related applications such as smart streetlighting. However, there has been little activity to combine these with applications from other areas, but that is now starting to change.
One of the first such developments taking place in Great Britain is Neighbourhood@Broomhill at Broomhill near Greenock in the southwest of Scotland.
Notably led by the private sector, the housing organization Housemark, the leading provider of social housing data and insight, the initiative is aimed at testing a comprehensive package of sensor-based IoT devices in social housing in order to explore the benefits to both landlords and tenants.
Approximately 300 multi-functional devices will be fitted to homes of the social housing provider, River Clyde Homes, in the Broomhill area to monitor a range of conditions, from temperature and humidity to noise, movement, wind speed, heat and power, as well as assets such as lifts and windows.
River Clyde Homes hopes to achieve outcomes including the ability to predict maintenance needs and act at the right time thus saving unnecessary expenditure and to improve asset intelligence for business planning purposes. Anticipated benefits for residents include minimized health and safety risks through near real-time monitoring of appliances and greater visibility of their energy usage to better manage fuel poverty.
The multi-functional IoT devices are developed by the UK IoT technology provider, Webthings. Communications will be via a Sigfox low power, wide area network (LPWAN), which is being supplied by Arqiva, a leading UK communications infrastructure and media services company.
A business intelligence system is being developed by Flexeye – a leading technology platform and services provider and lead partner of the UK government’s IoT HyperCat Consortium.
A ground-breaking initiative
The Smart Neighbourhood@Broomhill demonstrator marks a number of firsts for the IoT in GB. These include being the first comprehensive package of IoT devices for social housing locally as well as the first application in residential housing of Sigfox communications technology.
Sigfox is fast gaining ground as a low power WAN communication option for the IoT, currently operating and registering over 7 million devices in 18 countries in western Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. It is designed for small messages sent every now and then, rather than for high bandwith usage.
It is also the first project to bring together near real time residential data from multiple IoT devices simultaneously in a format consistent with the Hypercat IoT interoperability standards – thus laying down the foundations for interoperability within IoT ecosystems.
“We anticipate that this demonstrator will prove that IoT can deliver actionable insights to transform landlord efficiency and effectiveness in property maintenance and tenant welfare,” said Ross Fraser, chief executive of HouseMark.
“Social housing is one of many sectors that has the potential to be radically transformed by the IoT,” adds Sean Weir, director Smart and M2M at Arqiva. “Until now the cost of implementing IoT technologies has proved a big obstacle in realising these possibilities. With low cost, low power networks such as Sigfox helping companies like Webthings bring effective IoT solutions to market affordably, this is all set to change.”
The parties involved in the initiative anticipate that if successful the solution can be offered to the UK social housing sector as a cost-effective, leading standard, scalable solution for their future property maintenance and tenant welfare requirements.