BOSTON Networks, the Glasgow-based IT business, has raised the prospect of companies making savings and working more efficiently after securing public funding to roll out a £6 million Internet-of-Things (IoT) network throughout Scotland.

The firm has received £2.7 million of backing from the Scottish Government, plus support from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to help fund the IoT Scotland project, which involves installing a wide area wireless sensor network.

It will allow data to be communicated from devices without the need for wi-fi or a mobile network.

Falk Bleyl, chief technology officer at Boston Networks, highlighted the example of maintaining refrigeration units in different locations as a kind of business which could benefit. The technology would allow a firm to take and store data such as temperature from the machines, without the need to send someone to take manual readings. This could be beneficial where machines are located in remote areas.

The technology could be used to ascertain when machines require to be maintained, reduce energy costs and improve the carbon footprint of buildings.

Mr Bleyl said: “It means businesses may look at this network that is going to be rolled out as a way and means of doing business in a way that wasn’t previously possible. It could change the way things are done, so they are done more easily, more cost effectively and more frequently than before. [It could also] reduce wastage and manual repetitive tasks.”

Boston Networks is contributing around half of the costs of the £6m project, which will see it roll out infrastructure in the form of 500 LaRa (long range) wireless gateways throughout Scotland in the next two years. A launch event yesterday (Friday) heard that Glasgow will be 99 per cent covered via 22 gateways which will be installed across the city, giving it more long range coverage than any other city in the UK.

Mr Bleyl said: “We are literally in the process now of surveying and installing gateways on rooftops across Glasgow.”

Boston, owned by the Aliter Capital investment fund, confirmed that Argyll and Bute Council has signed up as an early adopter, which will see early installations in Oban and Helensburgh. And talks are being held with other local councils, with the full Scotland-wide roll-out planned by March 2021.

Mr Bleyl said the investment would allow Scotland to become “one of the few places that can claim to have a nationwide IoT network. It is quite significant in that respect.”

South Korea, France, the Netherlands and countries around eastern Europe have made similar investments, said Mr Bleyl, noting that telecommunication companies have largely been behind such moves.

Scottish innovation minister Ivan McKee said: “I’m delighted to see the progress being made by the IoT Scotland programme. Today’s launch underlines the breadth of creativity and innovation in this exciting sector.”

“To ensure we reap the rewards of these important technological advances, Scotland must be at the forefront and help drive innovation. This is why the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have collectively invested £2.84 million in IoT Scotland to ensure that as a nation we are able to benefit from the numerous economic and social benefits that they can bring.”