Schools, care homes, leisure centres and council offices are among those being transformed into smart buildings across the Scottish Highlands, as part of a new £400k project between Highland Council and North.
The project will use Scotland’s National IoT network, IoT Scotland, along with smart IoT sensors to collect data and gain insights on council buildings including CO2 levels, temperature and humidity, ventilation, electricity consumption and light levels. The data will be used by the council within its data analytics platform to reduce costs and carbon emissions, whilst improving the environment for young people, elderly care home residents, members of the local community, and council staff.
Serving a third of Scotland’s total land area, Highland Council is responsible for a large number of remote buildings which can now be monitored from a centralised point across the IoT network – reducing unnecessary journeys and enabling better use of resources.
North is delivering the project across all Highland Council buildings, with the council able to self-install pre-configured IoT sensors to monitor and gather data on building and room usage. North has supplied its data enablement platform which decodes, stores, visualises and shares information from the sensors, providing the council and its partners with a rich set of data, enabling them to better model building use, identify issues and deliver a more comfortable environment whilst controlling costs.
The council buildings will now benefit from having CO2 levels measured which provides an indication of air quality within a building or room. This is particularly relevant amid the current pandemic to ensure that the circulation of stale and fresh air is monitored to combat spreading grounds for viruses such as Covid-19. Populated areas such as classrooms can also be prone to high levels of CO2, which can affect concentration and work levels. The new sensor technology will allow carbon dioxide levels to be regularly monitored and reported, enabling the council to make any changes required to address this.
Additionally, sensors will inform the council on the usage pattern of each building and the rooms within it, enabling a more tailored and accurate remote control over maintenance, such as heating and lighting, to ensure systems are turned off when not in use – increasing efficiency, saving money on utilities and reducing carbon emissions.
Temperature and humidity sensors will allow the council to improve the environment within each building and increase comfort for users, prevent frost damage during winter, and detect conditions which could cause damp and mould.
North’s IoT Scotland network, part funded by the Scottish Government, is the most advanced IoT network in the UK, and will now provide network coverage within the Highland Council buildings.
Alasdair Rettie, Group Technical Director at North, said: “This project is an excellent example of the ways in which IoT technology can transform how we live and work. The Highland Council smart buildings project will not only offer benefits in terms of cost savings and a more sustainable way of working, but will enable the council to provide the public with a better experience whilst gathering the real time data to maintain a healthy and pleasant environment.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Highland Council to deliver this innovative IoT solution and to be taking advantage of the IoT Scotland network to provide the required IoT sensor connectivity.
“There are distant council buildings across the Scottish Highlands which can now be brought together through remote connectivity and control, using smart data to provide exceptional service to all destinations no matter how isolated they may be.”
The Highland Council’s Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee and Chair of the Council’s Climate Change Working Group, Cllr Trish Robertson said: “We are delighted to be working with North on a Smart Building – Smart Cities project which has been procured with the assistance of funding from the European Rural Development Fund (ERDF). North have supplied us with a large number of monitoring devices which will allow us to monitor activity in our large estate and inform decisions on how to manage our buildings in a more energy efficient way. Alongside the hardware supplied, North have also been very proactive in supplying training and technical support to our project team.”
Scottish Government Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said: “Across the Highlands, the Scottish Government funded IoT Scotland network offers a range of cost effective sensor solutions which has a massive impact on public service delivery in some of the remotest parts of Scotland.
“Through this unique partnership with Highland Council, this smart building project not only improves ongoing maintenance and helps monitor running costs. More importantly, this ensures council buildings and their services will be safe for people to use and access.
“Digital connectivity as critical national infrastructure plays a fundamental role in Scotland’s economic and social recovery post Covid-19. By expanding this digital sensor network, we continue to protect people’s health at work, home or school, especially those who are most vulnerable.
“This is a great opportunity for Highland Council to embrace future-proofed Internet of Things (IoT) and data driven technologies, and as we move towards becoming a carbon neutral nation, applications like this will help reduce our carbon footprint, paving a way for Scotland to meet its green energy low carbon ambitions. As a direct result of better connectivity, I’m delighted to see the range of lasting benefits this project will bring to the Highlands and my thanks go to all our partners in making this happen.”