How IoT could help us adapt to the ‘Next Normal’

On 16th April free access to the IoT Scotland network was announced for anyone responding to the unique challenges raised by COVID-19.

IoT applications can be used to tackle a range of COVID-19 challenges.  In this series of articles, we will explore relevant applications and how they could support the current lockdown phase in Scotland and enable us to adapt to the ‘next normal’.

In this first article, we focus on footfall monitoring with our technology partner, Wilderness Sensors, who specialise in outdoor IoT solutions including footfall/people movement counters.

What are IoT and LoRaWAN?

The “Internet of Things” is a broad definition for connecting devices to the internet.  These devices then send and/or receive data that can be interpreted to generate useful insights into businesses or operations, changing and improving the way we work and live.

IoT networks are wireless low-power, wide area networks (LPWAN) which send low bit rates between connected devices (sensors) and application servers, over long distances using very little power.  LoRaWAN is one of the technologies in the wider family of LPWAN services. The benefits of LoRaWAN are its long-range and the long battery life of connected devices, due to ultra-low power demand.

Social distancing and “stay at home” instructions

In recent weeks, unseasonably warm weather has led people to break lockdown guidance by spending more time at public places like beaches and parks. Lockdown fatigue is also being experienced by many who are keen to spend time outdoors and have a taste of normal life.  However, while the UK is still uncertain about whether the peak of coronavirus has passed, social distancing is vitally important, with the police now using their authority to issue fines to enforce.

Throughout the lockdown de-escalation and as restrictions begin to ease, it will be critical to monitor and demonstrate adherence to instructions, and to quickly identify if people are congregating in order to safely disperse.  Information would also benefit the public who seek to take their daily exercise at times where local greenspaces are quiet, or indeed visit their local supermarket when it’s least busy.

Wilderness Sensors Footfall Monitoring

Beach Sensor

Wilderness Sensors solution can easily be installed to capture details on how many visitors are entering and exiting sites, visitor flow, and usage data. Sensors can be connected to the IoT Scotland network, meaning there is no requirement for mobile or Wi-Fi connectivity.  The accompanying management platform offers analytics and reporting tools where custom alerts can be set up and trends visually displayed.

Wilderness Sensors have been active throughout the pandemic, publishing data on lockdown effectiveness in urban and rural locations in real-time without visiting sensors to extract data. This is not only critical for minimising risk to people but has helped to reduce operational costs. Find out more about the lockdown activity data generated and analysed to date.

The counters are networked and work in real-time, meaning data can be analysed quickly to make fast and pragmatic decisions about activity in a monitored area. Critically, the counters do not collect data that could identify individuals and as such they compliant with GDPR and privacy best-practice.

Apply for free of charge access to IoT Scotland

We want to hear from you if you are a potential end-user of IoT applications or a developer or provider of IoT hardware and solutions.

Apply for free of charge access to IoT Scotland for footfall counting, or any other COVID-19 related application.