UK.gov's Digital Catapult wheels out Central London IoT network

It's free. Now find something it can actually be useful for


The government-backed Digital Catapult wheeze has launched an “Internet of Things network” across London to titivate the lives of the eight million poor souls trapped within the M25.

We are told that 50 LoRaWAN base stations will be deployed to “overcome issues including infrastructure provision, traffic and transport services, energy management and environmental sensing.”

Apparently the network will cure asthma, stop cyclists getting themselves run over by lorries, enable drone deliveries, provoke the Second Coming of Christ and elect Hillary Clinton all on its own – though only within Oyster travelcard zone 1.

Rajesh Agrawal, Labour's deputy mayor for business, said in a canned quote: “Digital Catapult Things Connected will help to drive business innovation by embracing Internet of Things technologies across London. By continuing to make our city smart and connected, we are showing that London is Open as we work to improve the lives and well-being of many by tackling the big issues we face in healthcare, transport and energy.”

Mickey-taking aside, the LoRaWAN system deployment is intended to provide a base for IoT entrepreneurs to start playing about with infrastructure, traffic, transport and environmental data. Most importantly, for cash-strapped startups, it will be free to use the Things Connected testbed network, as its website explains.

Potential use-cases suggested by the Digital Catapult include a “safer” London journey planner that routes you away from accident blackspots – though the suggestion of using “crash-impact incidents from bike frame sensors” seems a bit morbid.

In the case of drones, the London LoRaWAN network will allow for the deployment of wind speed and turbulence sensors across London, suggesting Amazon has a beady eye on this for when it eventually announces its aerial drone delivery program, though it is not in the official list of “partners”.

The LoRaWAN spec is “intended for wireless battery operated Things” and is particularly aimed at “secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services” according to the LoRa Alliance website. A canned quote on that page from Olivier Hersent, CTO of Actility, claims: “With LoRaWAN, entire cities or countries can be covered with a few base stations, no longer requiring the upfront rollout and maintenance of thousands of nodes as in traditional mesh networking.”

Presumably he has countries the size of Vatican City in mind when he says “a few”.

Working on the project are: BT, Future Cities Catapult, Everynet, Beecham Research, AllThingsTalk, BRE, Imperial College London, King’s College London, UCL and Queen Mary University of London.

An open call for IoT devs looking for access to the network can be found here. ®

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