SmartRural Makes Economic Case for Funding

SmartRuralIn the Autumn SAOS Update ‘SmartRural – new technology offers endless possibilities’ (see below) we reported on SmartRural’s pilot scheme which has been developing a new co-operative business model trialling how to use technology to deliver improvements for residents and businesses in a rural setting through Long Range Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN).

The Scottish Government’s refreshed Digital Strategy emphasises the importance of network infrastructure to achieving the economic benefits offered by current and emerging digital applications. Within this, although broadband and mobile phone connectivity both feature prominently, a third form of digital connectivity is also mentioned explicitly: LoRaWAN.

LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) is a form of low power, wireless communication developed to support the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).
The battery life of devices connected to a LoRaWAN is measured in years, the devices can cost less than £10 and base stations can cost less than £10k. These modest requirements reflect the fact that LoRaWAN devices are intended to convey only small pieces of information relatively infrequently rather than complex information continuously: to signal a simple event or a change in condition, rather than providing detailed data.
This simple signalling is the essence of the IoT as an enabling technology: it greatly expands the scope for automatically monitoring the world around us, offering insights into the status of things which were not previously readily apparent and providing opportunities for better-informed decision-making and management.

Much farm management is based around averages, treating all animals within a cohort, or each parcel of land within a field, as if they were the same and therefore should receive the same level and timing of inputs. Cheap but durable IoT devices running with LoRaWAN offer the possibility of achieving a relatively dense monitoring network capable of providing information on when and where management is required.
By expanding the scope for cost-effective routine monitoring of the world around us, the IoT offers opportunities to gather new information which may help to improve economic efficiency.

The SmartRural team will be presenting one of the morning forums at the SAOS conference in January and will be on hand to discuss the progress and possibilities for SmartRural. http://www.saos.coop/latest-news/saos-conference-jan-19-now-open-for-booking/

Find out more in the meantime at www.smartrural.coop


 

Here’s the first article from the Autumn SAOS Update:

SmartRural – new technology offers endless possibilities

SmartRural2SAOS is currently developing the proof of concept of a new co-operative business model called SmartRural. The pilot scheme is trialling how to use technology to deliver improvements for residents and businesses in a rural setting.
The proof of concept is testing the physical infrastructure of Long Range Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN) within typical Scottish terrain, and a feasible business model that can sustain such networks.

The SmartRural concept integrates information and communication technology and various devices. For example, a motion sensor on a door, a gate or a piece of equipment that, when activated, transmits through the LoRaWAN through the internet to a phone app alerting the mobile phone user. Another example, closely connected with SAOS’ current ScotEID development and cattle EID, is a water trough sensor and EID reader that can relay the IDs and time of drinking of each animal in a remote field.

In essence, a SmartRural network is able to provide for different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. There is no limit to the sensor innovation that can be devised within a LoRaWAN system. A mixture of agriculture, business and residential properties, with a variety of personal and commercial needs and desires, can be addressed through this technology; from relaying precision farming data to the farm office, or automatically tracing cattle movements from one holding to another, or sensing fence tension where vehicles are apt to have an accident, or even sensing whether Grandma is active within her cottage. The co-operative, user-owned, user-responsive nature of the concept would ensure that service provision is built on community needs, rather than on maximising commercial returns to distant investors.

The SmartRural concept infrastructure is currently being trialled within the Stonehaven bowl. This area has a challenging mixture of arable terrain, deep valleys with livestock, as well as a town of 10,000 people who have fibre and 4G (whereas the 900 or so living rurally within the area can only dream of consistent 1Mbs broadband and 3G indoors)!

The deployment of the LoRaWan infrastructure began in January and, since then, it has been deep frozen at the lowest temps and hard baked at the highest temps that generally occur in Scotland. It’s been subjected to a lack of sunshine for days on end in mid-winter, deluged with rain, as well as lightning storms, wind storms and power-cuts – with no failures. SmartRural is confident about the technical infrastructure. The challenge now is how to develop a sustainable business model and gain Government support (that is already being afforded to the large networking companies) to take SmartRural into our rural communities where fibre broadband won’t go.

More details are available at: www.smartrural.coop

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