& Suffolk Unlimited supports the development of broadband, 4G and 5G
networks in our towns and cities but also aspires to have the best-connected
rural communities in the UK. Local government organisations share this
aspiration, as exemplified by the launch in 2020 of the largest public sector LoRaWAN® network in the UK, backed by Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils. This
is the culmination of a three-year project, which kicked-off in March 2017 when
a small group of local tech enthusiasts proposed the establishment of a series
of test LoRaWAN® gateways around Norwich.
As Norfolk County Council’s Director of Information Management and Technology, Geoff Connell, explains: “LoRaWAN® is an enabling technology for the Internet of Things. It compliments rather than competes with other fixed line and wireless connectivity and is free to use for anyone, including residents, students, businesses, and other public sector bodies. Since we started establishing gateways across the region, we have seen numerous organisations testing digital applications and demonstrating real business benefits.
“For instance, agricultural machinery suppliers Ben Burgess & Co Ltd, has installed sensors linked to local gateways that monitor environmental factors such as rainfall. This information enables its clients to select the optimum time for fertilising crops, so reducing input costs and environmental impacts. In fact, we now have more than fifty examples of private and public partners using the technology for specific applications, ranging from gritting roads in winter to improving adult social care and strengthening farm security.”