A professor at Lancaster University in the UK has won £171,495 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to lead a study of how the Internet of Things (IoT) can benefit problems from flooding and agricultural pollution to animal movements and drought in rural areas. Using an IoT approach in the countryside not only results in efficiencies and cost savings – it could also spur innovation and economic development, thus encouraging rural populations to stay put. A recent article in the Financial Times (Exodus to cities creates rural ghost towns) points out that Spain has probably the largest unpopulated region in Europe (called ‘Celtiberian Highlands, east of Madrid) because people have been leaving for better education and jobs. An IoT approach may have worked to keep populations in place inviting innovation and economic development. There is hope as long as there is at least one person (and one sheep to put a collar on!). – Philip Bane
Professor Gordon Blair, the Lancaster University computer scientist who is heading up the 18-month study that started Dec. 1 will work with partners at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The British Geological Survey and Bangor University.
“Cities have been the focus of much of the boom in this type of technology," Blair notes. "It has been used to keep traffic flowing on our roads, monitor air pollution and even help us find a parking spot on a busy Saturday afternoon."
But the professor says the countryside faces challenges of its own, from subtle environmental changes to catastrophic events such as flooding. He believes the possibilities of bringing the IoT to the countryside are limitless -- sheep with digital collars, sensors on riverbanks, rainfall and river flow monitors could all soon form part of the project.
Apparently not everyone is convinced the study has merit. A headline in The Register reads: "Govt spaffs £170k to develop the INTERNET OF SHEEP" and "Forget the networked fridge, it's time for the IPv6 addressable ovine."
What do you think? Do sheep need digital collars? Are there problems in rural areas that IoT can solve? Use the Comment form below to share your thoughts. (Note: You must be logged in to post a comment.)
Philip Bane is Executive Director of the Smart Cities Council, leading our international efforts. He has worked globally, owning businesses in Russia and India and leading teams that delivered innovative, multi-million dollar data solutions on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
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