SY IoT Meetup
IoT in Space @ Barnsley DMC
By Ceri Batchelder
“I THOUGHT THE PROGRAMME WAS EXCELLENT… LOOKING AT HOW THINGS WERE APPROACHED BY PEOPLE IN THE ROOM HAS HELPED ME THINK ABOUT TRADITIONAL TELCO PROBLEMS IN A NEW WAY.” – ANDY DAVIDSON, GROUP CTO & PRODUCT DIRECTOR @ ASK4
THE LATEST SOUTH YORKSHIRE IOT MEETUP AT BARNSLEY DIGITAL MEDIA CENTRE (DMC) ON 5 APRIL, BROUGHT TOGETHER MEMBERS OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) COMMUNITY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE GETTING CONNECTED EVENT IN NOVEMBER.
Welcoming everyone, Tracey Johnson, Barnsley DMC, emphasised that IoT is a big area of interest for Barnsley and there’s an ambition to create a home for opportunities around the technology. TEAM SY’s IoT Engine programme with Connexin is currently running from the DMC 02 Maker Lab and the DMC has hosted several cycles of IoT Tribe, the global accelerator for IoT startups and scaleups.
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The evening was hosted by Mark Davies, CEO and Co-founder at Sheffield-based cybersecurity company Ioetec. Mark shared how the meetups are designed to help foster the IoT ecosystem in South Yorkshire, and each one is themed. Choosing the space theme was easy – Mark has been hooked on space since the age of 8 when he watched a rocket taking off at Cape Canaveral, and was later gripped when watching the Apollo moon landings.
Our first speaker was Steve Clarke, Chief Operating Officer of Wyld Networks, a NASDAQ First North listed startup with the goal of providing connectivity in hard to reach places. They carry out the ground-based communication for satellite company and partner, Eutelsat. On the earth’s surface, there are large gaps in cellular coverage for physical assets. Wyld solves this issue by enabling data services from sensors on the ground via satellites for sectors such as agriculture, maritime and transportation – achieving 100% global coverage for low power direct sensor-to-satellite IoT connectivity. One of the early applications is for soil moisture monitoring for farming, improving yield whilst optimising use of a precious resource like water.
Next, Thomas Hutchinson, Space Development Manager at Space Hub Yorkshire, extolled the exciting space-related opportunities for businesses in Yorkshire, which is well-equipped to succeed in the sector thanks to its expertise in manufacturing, data analytics and AI, in addition to its strong and diverse talent pipeline. He encouraged participants to join the Space Hub Yorkshire network to keep in touch.
Barnaby Atkinson joined us from Inmarsat, which provides satellite communication services globally for aviation, maritime, land enterprises and over 80 governments, through its own capabilities and its partners. Barnaby mentioned that there is significant expertise and talent in Yorkshire and the North that Inmarsat draws on. The company operates a geostationary satellite network – 3 satellites to cover the globe, each the size of a doubledecker bus! It has live IoT services in the rail industry, agriculture and utilities – for example autonomous trains running across Australia via satellite, irrigation system control and water/gas pipeline monitoring. Sensors are being used to bring efficiencies, such as remote evaluations of river levels, but in doing so, they also have the potential to save lives from flooding and landslides.
Rikki Coles, Programme Lead of IoT Engine, provided his take on the need for IoT checks before launching into space – very important for remote deployments. He shared a cautionary tale about the use of watchdog timers that can be used to protect against system lockups that could make code inoperable in IoT systems. There’s a need to remember to have them in play, but to carefully manage their activity. With a grin, he reminded everyone that they could avoid some of these problems by joining IoT Engine!
Lauren Shale outlined the opportunity for businesses in IoT product and service development with the IoT Engine programme. Startups and SMEs from a range of industries have engaged with Lauren and Rikki to explore the use of sensors and data, and to initiate some prototyping. It’s exciting to see IoT innovation happening first hand in South Yorkshire!
The event closed with a live demo of the PiKon telescope, an astro-cam that replaces the conventional eye-piece of a Newtonian reflecting telescope with a Raspberry Pi camera (with the lens removed). Inventor Mark Wrigley has utilised various platforms – from Thingiverse to Instructables – to get his product into the hands of stargazers worldwide. Mark took the audience through its workings and then offered demonstrations to give everyone a closer look.
Resources and Staying in Touch
Link to event video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LI7rOVnUcdtLqwQiAt7mZ9xDyxI-80Dr/view
To join the regional IoT community, please sign up to the South Yorkshire (SY) IoT Meetup which will keep you up to date on IoT news and activity.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Space Hub Yorkshire for sponsoring the meetup, Kane Fulton for the event video and photography and to You & Us Events for managing all the logistics