Nationwide €14.5m IoT study launched to solve pressing urban issues

31 Jan 2018

Bike-sharing schemes are becoming increasingly popular in IoT-connected cities. Image: Alla Laurent/Shutterstock

One of the largest IoT studies ever conducted in the State will see 60 researchers find ways to improve Ireland’s urban areas.

The internet of things (IoT) is much more than just rigging up your home to a multitude of different connected devices, with cities such as Singapore already using vast networks of sensors to monitor things such as traffic, weather and air quality.

Now, Ireland is hoping to find similar uses in urban areas as part of a new €14.5m research project called Enable.

The project will see one of the largest collaborations of its kind between academia and industry, with dozens of companies contributing a total of €4.5m, including Intel, Huawei and SMEs such as Cork-based Accuflow.

In addition, three Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres – Lero, Insight and Connect – will take part in the project, contributing 60 researchers and €10m.

The areas that the project will cover include: water management, air pollution, traffic, data privacy and cybersecurity.

While the Enable project will be led by Trinity College Dublin, six other major academic institutions are to take part: Dublin City University, Cork Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick.

Given its nature and involvement in urban areas, Enable will also call on participation from the public to provide information on how this technology would benefit their lives.

Speaking of the project, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson said: “The high industry cost-share component of Enable’s funding reflects the importance and urgency of its research programme to industry.

“We expect Enable to deliver excellent research results and, through its collaboration with its industry partners, to deliver significant economic and societal impact during its lifetime.”

Sharing more IoT data

Meanwhile, the Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, welcomed the news as a means of giving Ireland’s IoT research more commercial applications.

“Enable will involve significant collaboration with multiple industry partners, ranging from large multinationals to SMEs. This engagement will ensure that the research outcomes will have industrial relevance,” she said.

“I also welcome Enable’s ambitious plans to take its research outside the lab by using testbeds such as Croke Park and the Mallow Urban Rural Testbed, so ensuring that the research outcomes will find practical applications.”

Enable’s director has been confirmed as Prof Siobhán Clarke, who said that – somewhat ironically – IoT technologies designed to share data over networks are actually not often shared.

“Current solutions for smart cities tend to be siloed and do not share data. This limits the ability to exploit the connectedness of our environments,” she said.

“Enable’s academic-industry consortium will focus on the scientific and engineering problems of developing innovative software services for smarter buildings, smart mobility, and improved environments in urban and community areas.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic