A mobile operator and city council have partnered to implement a low power wide area network technology as part of a smart city initiative, and also announced an innovation fund for startups to develop solutions for key city challenges.
Vodafone Ireland, in partnership with Dublin City Council (DCC), has announced that the operator’s narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network has been selected as a key connectivity enabler to the Docklands Smart District – part of the wider Smart Dublin initiative. The Docklands Smart District encourages innovation in the area by bringing together leading technology companies, research centers and other agencies with a focus on deploying the latest smart city innovations and connectivity across the quarter.
Narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) is a standards-based low power wide area technology developed to enable a wide range of new IoT devices and services. It is supposed to help significantly improve the power consumption of user devices, system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially. Hence it also enables longer battery life – sometimes 10 years or more for many use cases. The technology is supported by all major mobile equipment, chipset and module manufacturers, and can co-exist with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks.
One of the first technologies being deployed on Vodafone’s NB-IoT network in Dublin is a new product innovation which focuses on flood monitoring and response. Voguetek, an Irish SME based in Meath is developing low cost connected sensors that will use the new network to communicate potential gully blockages to the council before they become a hazard.
New innovation fund
Vodafone and Dublin City Council have also announced a new innovation fund and support initiative worth over €50,000 for startups that would like to utilize the new network test bed to develop proof of concept projects. It will be administered by Smart Dublin and DCU Alpha.
The support and services on offer will include:
- API access to the new Vodafone nationwide NB-IoT network.
- Hardware, chip sets and evaluation kits to enable access.
- Sim connectivity including data bundles.
- Access to physical infrastructure and municipal planning and engineering expertise from Dublin City Council.
- Prototyping services and desk space in DCU Alpha for any connected hardware PoC’s.
- Follow on funding pathways for development of any successful PoC’s
- Access to complementary test environments (e.g. maritime IoT and satcom IoT) for interoperability testing.
Challenges to be solved
Calls to solve specific challenges will also be announced over the coming months, including:
Connecting the lifebuoys in docklands and reduce theft and vandalism: across Dublin City over 500 ring buoys and almost 300 ropes are damaged or stolen each year. A reduction in theft and vandalism will reduce the cost of maintenance and also help to solve safety concerns.
Better understand movement and flows of the flows of people, bikes and vehicles through the deployment of low cost beacon technologies.
Environmental monitoring: delivering lower cost and dense deployments of sensors around the docklands e.g. air quality, noise, weather, rainfall, river levels etc.
Smarter building and energy monitoring: demonstrating smarter ways to measure and monitor energy usage.
The calls will issue from November 2017.