What do the idyllic charms of rural Cornwall, the rolling swells of the mid-Atlantic, the concrete jungles of the urban North East and the bustling, adrenalin fuelled office towers of London’s Docklands have in common? These are just some of the settings in which Northamptonshire based IRIS IoT Solutions finds itself undertaking a multitude of contrasting programs and challenges in the kaleidoscopic world known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). To date, IoT (at its simplest, devices that are connected via the internet) has been mostly seen as a Smart Home; Smart City; Smart Automotive (driverless vehicles) application. However, M2M has been with us for 20 years and now new technologies and cost-effective connectivity have ‘opened the door’ to the 4th industrial revolution – experts predicting that by 2020 over 20 billion connected ‘things’ will be in use and more than half of new businesses will run on the IoT.
For IRIS, with over 20 years involvement in the mobile and wireless industries, IoT is a natural evolution in its business, if not presenting a set of new and interesting scenarios. IRIS Director, Stephen Westley, explains “ Building our track record in mobile phones and connections, business services and solutions and more recently, Mobile Workforce Solutions, Applications and Hardware, has been rewarding and enjoyable and whilst we still provide all those services, the new opportunities offered by IoT are not only vast and exciting but many of them pioneering, as demonstrated in the diversity of programs with which we are currently involved”.
Mid-Atlantic is the turbulent pathway European bound container ships plough, transporting South America flora and fauna in temperature controlled ‘reefers’, for which IRIS is working with importers to provide accurate 24/7 temperature monitoring and reporting to secure and manage plant lifecycle and quality. The North east is location of an Assistive Technologies Test Bed, part of the National Social Care Digital Innovation Programme, aimed at deploying a range of connected devices to overcome challenges and better enable Adult Social Care at Home. The frenetic Docklands is home to many densely populated office buildings, where IRIS is working on Wellbeing at Work programs, delivering new and retrofit connected devices to improve workplace environments, reduce contaminants and improve productivity. Rural Cornwall is just one of the locations in a Poultry Industry program that monitors and reports on bird flocks and shed environments to improve wellbeing and reduce illness and use of antibiotics. IRIS’s partner, PrognostiX, was recently awarded Best Poultry Supply Chain Innovation 2018 for this program. This range of applications demonstrates not only IRIS’s ability build a solution that fits the requirements of a program, rather than fit a program into a solution, but also how IoT can bring about change and improvements to a wide array of industries and processes.
One of the things that makes these projects interesting is that they are most often collaborations – very few, if any, organisations have the complete services portfolio or capabilities to deliver on the full range of opportunities and benefits that IoT can deliver. Drawing together expertise in sensor design and engineering, solutions architecture, data analytics, software engineering, AI, connectivity, visualisation etc is common place but also a challenge. A challenge that IRIS would like to turn into an opportunity by drawing upon the wealth of technology and manufacturing expertise that exists within Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas, to build a network of partnerships to take advantage of this explosion in IoT.
Stephen is passionate about what this could mean for Northampton “At IRIS we not only want to provide support and assistance to local companies and organisations in improving their business processes, productivity and competitiveness, we want to do this in partnership with other local providers and technology businesses. For the past 6 months we have been actively reaching out through local business groups and support organisations towards building partnerships and a network of providers that can work together on these IoT opportunities and welcome contact from any businesses who may be interested in working with us (or be interested in what IoT can do for their business). However, we also believe that the opportunity is much bigger for Northampton. Northampton is uniquely positioned with its proximity to London and its ease of communications links with major cities and airports. The county’s attractiveness to the new ‘tech literate’ generations, looking to escape the pressures and demands of the capital and the presence of one of the country’s leading Academic Institutions, means that alongside established technology businesses and entrepreneurs, we could attract and develop a huge bank of new talent and enterprise. A great catalyst and foundation for this would be the establishing of a Digital Hub in Northampton – a location where knowledge could be shared, co-operation encouraged, skillsets exploited to their full, expert guidance and mentoring channelled efficiently and lasting partnerships built – where like minded businesses and individuals can flourish in a hothouse of ideas and enterprise, rather than wilt through the grind of a solitary existence.”
This would be a first for the region and an opportunity to stamp Northampton on the Digital Map of the UK as a centre of Digital Excellence and Enterprise. Preliminary discussions with local MP’s, the Borough Council and University are encouraging. The support and voice of interested parties and businesses would be a major factor in making this a reality. Anyone who is interested please make that known through All Things Business or contact email@example.com and let’s make Northampton’s Digital Hub a digital success.
“Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer, supports a Northampton digital hub. He says, ”The future of Northampton’s economy and community depends of us reaching out and embracing the envelope of technology. Northampton should endeavour to be ahead of the curve. It is plain to see the substantial advantages that the Internet of Things brings and we should grasp the opportunity and forge the benefits for our future needs here in Northampton. A Northampton digital hub provides the basis for this.”
For more information about IRIS IoT, visit their website: www.iris-iot.com