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IoT application areas

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IoT in action

Since 2016, multiple IoT networks have been rolling out across Scotland, laying the groundwork for businesses, societies and individuals to create IoT efficiencies, services and products. These networks cover Low-Power Long-Range Networks that enable lower cost connectivity and open up a host of new and exciting use cases. Cellular networks also have an important part to play in the IoT revolution with new IoT standards emerging that will form an important part of the upcoming 5G offering.

These new communication infrastructures will be the backbone of new application development. Impacts from IoT activities will be widespread and will affect every aspect of our lives.

As well as consumer, retail, personal health and societal benefits, industry will apply IoT to critical infrastructures such as manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, healthcare and utilities.

Within Scotland, there is a rich heritage of companies developing sensor products, and the move into connecting these products is a natural evolution of the technology. The Scottish technology development and manufacturing landscape is well capable of exploring, designing, building, certifying and manufacturing technology to achieve worldwide scale.

Example application areas for IoT

Parking in cities

Challenge:

To optimise the use of parking spaces in cities to minimise congestion and maximise income

Could an IoT system solve this?

An IoT system could manage parking spaces to the benefit of the land owners, drivers and the environment

Method:

Sensors are embedded into the ground or mounted on nearby buildings to determine whether parking spaces are empty.

Result:

Via a mobile device, drivers are directed to a space without having to spend time looking for one. Parking space owners (private or public sector) manage land and space more effectively and ensure maximum revenue. Vehicle emissions are reduced when drivers no longer need to spend time driving around looking for a parking space.

Efficient buildings and hospitals

Challenge:
To monitor the ‘health’ of buildings and improve their utilisation. Estate managers and building owners often have little control over the heating, lighting and occupancy of large buildings. This wastes energy and increases costs.

Could an IoT system solve this?

An IoT system could help them better manage their buildings.

Method:
Sensors placed in rooms assess when rooms are empty or in use. At the same time, they monitor temperature conditions, humidity and carbon dioxide, noise and light levels.

Result:

Building managers adjust room comfort levels, save on energy used for lights and heating and make better use of their facilities. In social housing, this could identify potential health issues for residents from damp.

Food production and farming

Challenge:
To optimise irrigation in agriculture and horticulture. Over or under watering a crop can reduce yield quality and potentially waste water, thereby impacting a farmer’s profit margins.

Could an IoT system solve this?
An IoT system could ensure crops are grown in optimum conditions.

Method:
Soil moisture sensors are placed around a field to measure the level of water in the soil. At regular intervals, the soil sensors wirelessly transmit readings to the cloud, where the data is stored and information transmitted to a dashboard.

Result:
From the dashboard, the farmer sees the current soil moisture and determines if the crops need to be watered.
If the cloud application detects that crops are under- watered, it could turn on the irrigation system and water the crops automatically, saving the farmer time.
If the system retrieves the local weather forecast it can also disable watering if rain is forecast to prevent over watering.

Home telecare/health monitoring

Challenge:
To support older people to live independently for as long as possible. The existing analogue telephone lines for telecare – currently used by 170k people in Scotland – will be turned off in 2025. This presents a major opportunity for the introduction and application of IoT and other digital solutions.

Could an IoT system solve this?
IoT systems will replace the current non-digital infrastructure and will help monitor people’s health and wellbeing in the home.

Method:
IoT sensors and communication hubs to be provided to all people requiring services.

Result:

The IoT telecare hubs will provide alarm and health monitoring services. This infrastructure will enable advanced monitoring and help to keep people healthy in their homes for longer.

People flow

Challenge:
Counting and understanding the flow of people, e.g., in buildings, city centres, at sports events and on public transport. Understanding how groups of people interact with public transport systems could improve infrastructure planning. Crowd management at large events could be optimised.

Could an IoT system solve this?
Low cost distributed sensors could be deployed across a transport network to anonymously count and understand the flow of people.

Method:
There are multiple sensor methods that can be used to track people using or moving through a space, e.g., by measuring footfall or by using vision systems to anonymously count people.

Result:
An understanding of demand/ capacity around the network can support long-term transport or infrastructure planning.

Water monitoring

 

Challenge:

Monitoring water supplies in large buildings and distributed estates, particularly in remote and rural areas. Bacteria in a building’s water system could cause harm to the occupants.

Could an IoT system solve this?

An IoT system could check whether water temperature in pipes could encourage harmful bacteria growth. Currently, many water quality tests are conducted manually. Automating this could save time and money, provide clearer results, and identify trends

Method:

Sensors are deployed throughout the water system to measure water temperature in real time.

Result:

Water temperatures are recorded around the building enabling the building owner to reduce risk and report health and safety compliance.

Crowd behaviour

Challenge:

Enhancing the visitor experience at historic sites and tourist attractions.

Could an IoT system solve this?

Indoor and outdoor location tracking could guide people round tourist attractions and cities and give relevant information at places of interest.

Method:

Small beacon sensors can be placed around attractions to give people relevant information at set locations through smartphones or other devices.

Result:

Better visitor experience and understanding of people flow throughout attractions.

City waste collection

Challenge:

Optimising resources for waste collection; understanding when bins are full, or if certain bins do not need to be emptied.

Could an IoT system solve this?

An IoT system could detect which containers are full and plan the route to maximise efficiency.

Method:

Battery-powered ultrasound sensors are fitted to the top of each container to measure the level of waste and relay this information back to the dashboard.

Result:

A dashboard shows which containers need emptied and plans the vehicle route accordingly. In turn, fewer vehicle emissions helps to reduce environmental impact.

Take a look at organisations we have worked with

If you would like to find out more about our work with businesses of all sizes, public sector bodies and universities, we have highlighted some of the challenges we have faced together with our clients.

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