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Largest of its kind sensor network to launch in Norfolk

10 September 2020

The largest free to use long range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) deployment in the UK is set to be launched here in Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council is officially launching the Norfolk and Suffolk Innovation Network on Tuesday 15 September with a free online event aimed at businesses in the county to encourage them to make use of the innovative new technology.

Tech experts including Norfolk County Council’s Chief Technical Officer Kurt Frary will explain how the technology works, with Leader Andrew Proctor and Cllr Tom FitzPatrick outlining the council’s ambition for connectivity in Norfolk.

Once finished, the network will be made up of 120 ‘gateways’ that are located across the county. These receive data from small sensors which can be programmed to measure things like temperature, sound and movement. The network has been built in partnership with Suffolk County Council and funded by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Businesses can buy their own sensors, adapt them to measure different things like visitor numbers, weather data and temperature, and tap into the gateways for free. Norfolk County Council will help them get set up and begin receiving data to help them make decisions about their business.

Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Cabinet Member for Innovation, Transformation and Performance, said: “Our Innovation Network is already helping kickstart innovation here in Norfolk, with industry leaders including Ben Burgess using it to help farmers and agriculture companies measure rain and weather data.

“We’re already using sensors to measure road surface temperatures for gritting runs, humidity levels in our storage archives, and visitor numbers on our trails. But the only real limit with this technology is your imagination, so we’d like to see as many businesses as possible attending. Come get involved, help us continue our drive to make Norfolk better connected than ever, and take advantage of the benefits offered by this digital innovation.”

Businesses and individuals are encouraged to sign up to the event for free on the Eventbrite website.

Around half of the gateways have been completed, with the rollout to new locations prioritised according to where businesses interested in using the network are based.

Before the network, sensors would need memory and could cost upwards of £1,000. But with the new gateways, people can use cheaper, low power sensors that can cost as little as £10 and focus more on gathering and then transmitting data over a long distance, rather than storing it.

Gateways are being extended across Suffolk, with an official launch planned over the coming months to encourage Suffolk businesses to get involved and make use of the network.

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