Businesses in Scotland are to benefit from the most advanced ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) network in the UK as part of a £6m project, the Scottish Government said today.

The new network, IoT Scotland, will provide a wireless sensor network for applications and services to collect data from devices and send that data without the need for 3G/4G or Wi-Fi, supporting businesses develop new and innovative applications, and changing the way they work.

The network will enable all businesses to have the ability to monitor the efficiency and productivity of their assets, equipment, scheduling maintenance and improving production.

IoT Scotland could support wider use of smart bins that wirelessly inform local authorities when they require emptying, ensuring best use of bin lorries but also helping to reduce carbon emissions. Similarly, the network could monitor office environments to lower costs by saving energy, while reducing carbon footprints of buildings.

The three year project includes investment from the public and private sector with the Scottish Government investing £2.7m, with the remaining investment coming from Glasgow-based Boston Networks, a £113,000 contribution from Scottish Enterprise, and £30,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

This network will help transform the potential for businesses and the public sector to explore sensor and imaging applications – Kate Forbes.

“The Internet of Things is set to transform every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to agriculture and presents an exciting opportunity to revolutionise the way businesses and the public sector across Scotland work,” said Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, Kate Forbes.

“Our £2.7m investment in this project underpins our vision of a Scotland that stimulates innovation, welcomes investment and promotes its digital industries. We want Scotland to be recognised internationally as a natural test bed for innovation in connectivity which is why we are investing in our digital infrastructure.

“As the network is rolled out across the country, it will enable companies to innovate, providing low-cost access to next-generation connectivity, helping organisations develop new solutions and devices with global export potential.

“We made a commitment in the 2017/18 Programme for Government to invest in a new wireless sensor network. This network supports full commercial use of IoT in Scotland and will help transform the potential for businesses and the public sector to explore sensor and imaging applications, to pilot their ideas and then launch proven, sustainable products and services into the global market.”

Falk Bleyl, chief technology officer of Boston Networks, said: “[We are] is excited to be leading the pioneering project to build and operate the IoT network which will drive the commercialisation of the Internet of Things across Scotland.

“The wide reaching network, which will be the most advanced in the UK, has the potential to revolutionise the use of smart technologies and will be rolled out in cities, towns and rural areas across the country. The network will allow a wide range of users, from small IoT start-ups to multinationals to focus on the deployment of sensors and applications, rather than network build.”

Ian Reid, chief executive of CENSIS, commented: “It is forecast that there will be 25 billion IoT devices connected by 2025 and only a small number will be connected to the internet using 3G, 4G or WiFi. Low power wide area networks like IoT Scotland are going to become increasingly important – they have the potential to be as disruptive to businesses as the internet has been already to our daily lives.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director at Scottish Enterprise, added: “For the first time, Scottish companies will have access to a network where they can capture and analyse business and customer data at the cost of a few pence per month.

“It’s vitally important that we invest in assets like this so businesses can reap the benefits and we can continue to attract world leading data companies to locate in Scotland.

“By using data to inform business decisions, companies are in a stronger position to innovate products and services, generate new revenue streams and increase efficiencies. Our Data Advisory Service is helping many businesses understand how they can get the most out of their data to accelerate growth and we’re keen to work with even more that could benefit from the IoT Scotland network.”