RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers, is supporting an initiative for a low-power wide-area-networking (LPWAN) technology programme in Calderdale, a metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire. Businesses in the region will participate in a free long-range wireless communications network ‘testbed’ that has been built with the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications in mind.

LoRaWANSelected businesses and organisations can gain free connectivity to a network using a proven LPWAN wireless communications standard called LoRaWAN, which enables low-data-rate transmission of information with very low power consumption over long distances, up to a maximum of around 15km. Known as the Calderdale LPWAN Boost, the initiative’s testbed network will act as a part of The Things Network, a global community-driven initiative that has successfully deployed LoRaWAN networks in more than 60 countries. The goal of the Calderdale initiative is to assist in the development of innovative IoT and M2M enabled applications, such as finding new ways to measure air quality and river levels at a local level, as well as potentially helping to lower operating and maintenance costs.

Driving the initiative is technical communities consultancy AB Open, in partnership with RS, The Things Network, Calderdale Council and Digital Catapult as part of the IoTUK project. Launched by the Digital and Future Cities Catapults, which were set up by Innovate UK, the government’s official innovation agency, the IoTUK project was initiated to advance the UK’s leadership in the IoT.

Up to ten local businesses will be selected from those applying for the free programme. Successful applicants will be supplied with hardware for prototyping, trained during a two-day hands-on workshop, given a full 12 months of support, and given opportunities to showcase their LoRaWAN-enabled products and services upon completion.

‘We’re thrilled to be working with RS, IoTUK, The Things Network and Calderdale Council on introducing LPWAN technology to the region,’ said AB Open managing director Andrew Back. ‘And we are excited to see how entrepreneurs and businesses will be able to build great new products and services using low-power, long-range communications.’

Pete Wood, DesignSpark community manager at RS commented: “RS is continually on the lookout for these kinds of community-led initiatives that are based on open-source development, which melds perfectly with the mission of our DesignSpark programme and associated community of engineers and developers, to share knowhow and potentially enable design re-use. There may exist the potential for the work being done as part of the Calderdale initiative to be used as a template for LoRaWAN based solutions in other regions.”

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