A consortium of technology companies, Connected Digital Economy Catapult, Future Cities Catapult, Milton Keynes Council and The Open University have announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build a city-wide, open access demonstration network for Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT), based on the Weightless communications standard.
The project will demonstrate the ability of a city-wide M2M infrastructure to cope with a large number of static and mobile sensors. Some of these will support use cases for Milton Keynes council, but the mission for the project is to attract many other innovators to use the infrastructure as a test bed for commercial applications, new products and services which need not be specific to Milton Keynes.
The technology is being supplied and managed by BT and Neul Ltd. Working with Milton Keynes Council, they will install a network of Weightless base stations to provide coverage across the city for low power, connected sensors.
“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. This could include anything from intelligent monitoring of parking spaces in the city to networked bins which signal when they need collecting,” said Alan Ward, Head of Corporate ICT Practice at BT. “The project will showcase BT’s capability in managing network services for these applications which will be pivotal in making this initiative a success.”
“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.”
“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.”
The collaboration will deploy large numbers of IoT sensors over its eighteen month span as well as proving a range of different business models in a real world environment. It is intended that it will remain as a long term development environment and platform for IoT innovation, attracting global companies to Milton Keynes.