The Internet of Things and Smart Infrastructure

The Internet of Things and Smart Infrastructure
01 Dec 2017

The Internet of Things and Smart Infrastructure

The Internet of Things enables connected objects and devices containing sensors to share data, information and insights - from industrial machines, infrastructure, buildings and vehicles, to consumer electronics and clothing. The benefits for industry, the public sector and citizens could be huge. For example: wearable monitors can improve personal health care; smart water pipes can warn of falls in pressure; street-level data can improve traffic flows and planning.

We want the UK to remain an international leader in R&D and adoption of IoT. We are funding research and innovation through the three year, £30 million IoT UK Programme, including:

  • the large-scale Cityverve smart cities demonstrator in Manchester to show how IoT technologies and services can improve the quality and efficiency of services in transport, energy, health and culture
  • NHS test beds, using IoT and health and care innovations to help people with dementia in Surrey and people with diabetes in the West of England
  • the IoT Research Hub led by University College London and partners, to develop UK interdisciplinary research excellence, focusing on privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability and security (PETRAS)
  • help for IoT entrepreneurs and innovators from the Digital Catapult and Future Cities Catapult; and specialist accelerator schemes for IoT hardware businesses, R/GA and Startupbootcamp.

Increasingly, new infrastructure is also smart: connected, and operated with data to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness. To provide leadership in the roll out of smart infrastructure, the EPSRC has announced £138 million of funding for the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) to create a coordinated and coherent national infrastructure research community, spanning at least 14 universities. UKCRIC stated aims are to:

  • build on existing capabilities to establish a network of state-of-the-art large-scale experimental facilities supporting world-leading research in cities and infrastructure
  • establish a unique, national network of local ‘urban laboratories’ to sense, capture, monitor and evaluate new and existing infrastructure in UK towns and cities
  • establish world-leading computation and big data infrastructure for the modelling, simulation, and visualisation of cities and infrastructure
  • we have also asked the National Infrastructure Commission to undertake a new study on how emerging technologies can improve infrastructure productivity

Sector deals offer another important channel to support specific industries. They offer an opportunity for important players to join together and address shared challenges and opportunities they face. We are therefore pleased to support reviews into the following important and rapidly growing sectors, which could inform potential sector deals.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Jerome Pesenti, Chief Executive of BenevolentTech, will conduct a review of how industry and government can create the conditions for the artificial intelligence industry to continue to thrive and grow in the UK. The review will consider the core challenges such as skills and access to talent, access to data, and access to finance and investment. This review will build on the work on machine learning by the Royal Society, and it will complement, but remain separate from, the ongoing work by the British Academy and Royal Society on data ethics and governance, which will also cover ethical issues around AI.

As outlined in the Industrial Strategy green paper, Sir Peter Bazalgette will conduct an independent review into how the UK’s creative industries, such as our world-leading music and video games industry, can help underpin our future prosperity by utilising and developing new technology, capitalising on intellectual property rights, and growing talent pipelines.

In addition to these reviews, government will consider how it can further support the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) sectors in the UK, considering how these industries could seize opportunities for growth. The UK is home to a number of innovative firms working in this sector, including Blippar, Improbable.IO, Ultrahaptics, and a host of world-leading production houses specialising in VR or AR content. As an international hub for the cultural and creative industries, and with our strengths in research and computer science, the UK is well placed to take advantage of global growth in these sectors.

The Digital Catapult is already helping advance next generation virtual and augmented reality businesses. Earlier this month, it launched Augmentor, an equity free 10-week programme to provide technical and business mentorship to start-ups in this space. Successful applicants will have access to the Digital Catapult Centre in London as a space to work and collaborate, as well as the state-of-the-art Immersive Lab at the centre.