Bradford launches IoT development initiative

Effort to meet council challenges and boost local digital economy begins with project to monitor flood risk on local waterway

City of Bradford has launched a programme to develop internet of things (IoT) technologies in the local community, beginning with the £20,000 procurement of three LoRa gateways and five flood sensors for installation around Bradford Beck.

Bradford cityscapeThe metropolitan district council is beginning a programme of smart places developments with a big data project, working with the University of Bradford in monitoring flooding levels on the waterway.

Yunus Mayat, enterprise architect and information manager at the council, told UKAuthority that it wants to develop new IoT devices in collaboration with small companies or individuals and other public sector organisations.

The LoRa gateways – routers that provide a link between a low power wide area network and the internet – are making it possible for the council to develop networks for sharing non-personal data with developers and computer science students at the university, and testing IoT devices.

Bespoke approach

Mayat said, that while devices are already on the local market, it is “looking for things more bespoke to Bradford” and hopes to provide a boost for the local digital economy.

“We’re also setting up a grant scheme to support local SMEs,” he said. “We’re starting to encourage local people to develop good ideas, saying to them ‘Let’s see how you can create that device or application for a local need.

“There are a number of digital SMEs in Bradford that we’re not aware of but want to bring into this, and we’re starting to build some challenges that are faced by the council, the local NHS and other public sector organisations.”

The Bradford Beck project will make use of the first network to support live monitoring of the waters at three locations to provide early warnings of flood risks, with sensors at further locations to go online later in the year.

Mayat said the council is also looking at a project to install sensors into its 3,500 public bins to establish how they could be better managed, and others around air quality and footfall data.

Pioneers

Speaking at the launch event, the council’s chief executive Kersten England said: “It’s exciting to have the launch of this pioneering technology in Bradford.

“These new networks will help us to all play an active role in facilitating the development of new devices and the next generation of apps and also create new business opportunities.

“We want to make our district a technology hub, developing the next big digital revolution creating these new smart cities devices and use the data collected to help shape the future of our district.”

Image by Caladon, CC BY-SA 2.5