Smart infrastructure firm Boston Networks has launched the UK’s ‘most advanced’ Internet of Things network.

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

The £6m network, based on 500 LoRa (long range) wireless gateways situated throughout Scotland, is part funded by £2.7m from the Scottish Government, with further support from Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and Boston Networks.

At the launch, it was announced that Glasgow will be 99% covered via 22 gateways which are being installed across the city – making it the most LoRa-covered city in the UK, “with the potential to become the smartest”.

Argyll and Bute Council has also signed up as an early adopter, which will see early installations in Oban and Helensburgh. Negotiations are underway with other councils and organisations throughout the country with a full roll-out planned by March 2021. Boston Networks will install and manage all of these devices.

IoT Scotland will enable businesses and public sector organisations to monitor and potentially control the status, efficiency and productivity of their assets and equipment, scheduling maintenance and improving production.

For example, it could support the automated collection of temperature data from refrigeration units which could lead to greater compliance and less waste. Similarly, the network could monitor office environments to lower costs by saving energy, while reducing the carbon footprint of buildings.

Boston Networks Chief Technology Officer Falk Bleyl said: “We are excited to be leading this pioneering project to build and operate the IoT network and drive the commercialisation of the Internet of Things across Scotland.

“There will be a forecasted 25 billion IoT devices connected by 2025, and only a small number will be connected to the internet using 3G, 4G or WiFi. LoRa 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.

“IoT Scotland will be the most advanced in the UK, can revolutionise the use of smart technologies and will be rolled out in cities, towns and rural areas across the country. It allows a wide range of users, from public sector organisations to small IoT start-ups to multinationals to focus on the deployment of sensors and applications, rather than network build.

Innovation Minister Ivan McKee, who spoke at the event, said: “I’m delighted to see the progress being made by the IoT Scotland programme. Today’s launch underlines the breadth of creativity and innovation in this exciting sector.”

“To ensure we reap the rewards of these important technological advances, Scotland must be at the forefront and help drive innovation. This is why the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have collectively invested £2.84 million in IoT Scotland to ensure that as a nation we are able to benefit from the numerous economic and social benefits that they can bring.”

Councillor Angus Millar, Depute City Convener for Economic Growth for Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Digital Glasgow Board, said: “We welcome this investment from Boston Networks and partners and wish them every success with their plans for this IoT network, which align with our ambitions to make Glasgow a world-leader in digital technology and services.

“Glasgow is already recognised as being successful in the delivery of projects through its pioneering smart cities programme and the expansion of initiatives such as Intelligent Street Lighting, and our Digital Glasgow Strategy will see the further roll-out of many projects that will bring great social and economic benefit to our people, businesses and organisations.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “It’s great to see both Scottish urban and rural areas signing up to the rollout of the IoT Scotland programme. Using data effectively helps businesses make better informed decisions about their operations and can lead to new revenue streams by understanding more about their customers, products and services.

“IoT Scotland offers Scottish companies access to a network to do this, and at the cost of just a few pence per month.”

A number of IoT technology demonstrations were on display at the launch, including M2M’s water safety monitoring to counteract legionella bacteria, Telematics intelligent street lighting, Hastech’s home alert system for family carers and social care practitioners, Replicade’s wilderness footfall sensors, and IoPT Assets’ property monitoring devices.