Milton Keynes To Be Covered By City-Wide ‘Internet Of Things’ Network

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Neul and BT are building a network based on the Weightless standard in Milton Keynes, to attract investment and test out M2M applications

A new city-wide open access Internet of Things (IoT) network is to be built in Milton Keynes, aimed at attracting investment to the area and proving the viability of M2M applications and infrastructure in a real-life environment.

The project is being backed by the Technology Strategy Board’s Connected Digital Economy Catapult, the Future Cities Catapult, Milton Keynes Council and the Open University, as well as BT and Neul which will install a number of Weightless base stations across the city for low-power connected sensors.

Weightless was first announced in 2011 by Neul, and his since been adopted as a standard for white space technology, which relies on unused portions of TV and radio broadcast spectrum to connect devices in a five kilometre radius from the base station. It uses chips that can transmit information for a decade from a single battery, and the technology can also use licensed spectrum.

Milton Keynes IoT

InternetofThings2“We’re excited to be announcing the first dedicated, city-wide network for the IoT here in the UK” said Stan Boland, CEO of Neul. “Neul’s low-power, open-access, wide-area network solution provides the key to unlocking a vast variety of new applications, previously impossible or uneconomical with existing communications technologies. “

“We see this exciting project as a means of establishing an open innovation environment to support the creation of M2M and IoT applications across a whole city,” adds Alan Ward, head of corporate ICT practice at BT. “This could include anything from intelligent monitoring of parking spaces in the city to networked bins which signal when they need collecting.”

Some of the services tested on the network will naturally be specifc to Milton Keynes, but the partners hope to provide a test bed for applications, products and services which can be used elsewhere. The sensors will be deployed over an 18 month span and will remain there, as part of a long term development environment designed to attract global companies to Milton Keynes.

Application test

“Milton Keynes is already known as a pioneer in the use of technology to make our city more efficient, as evidenced by the current MK:Smart project”, said Geoff Snelson, director of strategy at Milton Keynes Council. “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to extending that to a city-wide level of access.  As well as providing a test-bed for our own specific use cases, this will bring new innovation and business development to the city, creating an ecosystem of IoT development.”

Last year, Glasgow fended off competition from 30 urban areas in the UK to be named by the Technology Strategy Board as its ‘Future Cities Demonstrator’, receiving £24 million to show how providing integrated services across health, transport, energy and public safety fields can improve the local economy and enhance the quality of life for citizens.

Earlier this week, Arqiva announced it is to build a nationwide IoT network based on ultra narrowband technology. It will go live first Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield before expanding across the UK.

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