Dublin’s smart city: Vodafone to turn docklands into NB-IoT testbed

25 Oct 2017215 Shares

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The Dublin docklands. Image: Peter Krocka/Shutterstock

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Docklands Smart District will provide a safe harbour to test Ireland’s IoT ambitions.

Vodafone has confirmed it is working with Dublin City Council (DCC) to test narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) sensors in the Docklands Smart District as part of the wider Smart Dublin initiative.

Both organisations are also creating a €50,000 innovation fund aimed at start-ups and researchers to test smart city technologies on the NB-IoT platform, which will be administered by Smart Dublin and DCU Alpha.

‘The Smart Docklands District, with its density of new builds, global tech companies, smart assets and range of connectivity options, provides a unique platform for SMEs and entrepreneurs to develop new and innovative solutions that will transform the way our cities operate’
– JAMIE CUDDEN

CEO of Vodafone Ireland, Anne O’Leary, told Siliconrepublic.com that the aim is to encourage innovation in the emerging IoT field by enabling collaboration between companies, research centres and other bodies.

Among the earliest deployments of NB-IoT will be smart rubbish bins that will alert local authorities once bins are full to improve the city’s cleanliness.

There is also a new product innovation that focuses on flood monitoring and response. Voguetek, an Irish SME based in Meath, is working in partnership with Vodafone and DCC to develop low-cost, connected sensors that will use the new NB-IoT network to report potential gully blockages before they become a flood hazard or risk.

Debbie Power, IoT sales manager at Vodafone, explained that the collaboration with Voguetek around flood defences was enabled by the latter’s expertise in ultrasonics.

Jamie Cudden, smart city programme manager at DCC, said: “The Smart Docklands District, with its density of new builds, global tech companies, smart assets and range of connectivity options, provides a unique platform for SMEs and entrepreneurs to develop new and innovative solutions that will transform the way our cities operate.

“The technology has the potential to be used right across the country in both an urban and rural capacity.”

NB-IoT can connect millions of smart devices

Dublin’s smart city: Vodafone to turn docklands into NB-IoT test bed

From left: Jamie Cudden, smart city programme manager, Dublin City Council; Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland; and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten, TD. Image: Naoise Culhane

The NB-IoT testbed roll-out in Dublin by Vodafone and DCC follows the €2m Infinite IoT industrial platform in Cork, created two years ago as part of a joint investment by Vodafone and EMC.

In August, Vodafone became the first mobile operator to commercially launch its NB-IoT network.

NB-IoT is a low-power, wide-area network technology. It is designed to wirelessly connect millions of devices that have low bandwidth requirements.

“Anywhere we have existing 4G network, we have NB-IoT, too,” O’Leary explained.

“Predominantly, the vast use of NB-IoT in its early days will be by utility companies, to protect and manage assets like gas, water, electricity. We are also helping with use cases in the agricultural sector as well as in the logistics business.

“The companies that we have signed up for use cases range from start-ups to multinationals – it is very diverse.”

O’Leary added that the new €50,000 fund is attracting considerable interest from start-ups, established firms and research centres. “It’s growing legs every day as more and more people want to be involved. There are so many use cases for NB-IoT in the smart city, ranging from smart bins to sensors that will tell the council if lifebuoys have been interfered with or moved.

“We can see this whole field evolve as Dublin’s smart city evolves and our nationwide NB-IoT is used nationally.”

The docklands initiative was welcomed by Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD.

“Smart technology has the potential to radically change the way we live and work in Ireland, and is vital if we are to achieve our ambitions of being able to compete on a truly global stage.

“I want to commend both Vodafone and Dublin City Council on enabling an innovation programme of this scale, which not only has the potential to transform the day-to-day lives of every citizen, business and community in Dublin, but the benefits this can have across Ireland are limitless.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in Ireland’s journey to becoming a world leader in the development and deployment of internet of things innovations,” Naughten said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com