Scottish schools project aims to create world-leading IoT network

A programme led by the University of Edinburgh is deploying environment sensor technology at schools across the Scottish capital, in an installation leaders claim will represent ‘Europe’s largest’ IoT network

A multimillion-pound scheme intends to make schools in Edinburgh “Europe’s largest” Internet of Things network.

Since launching in 2019, the £9.5m IoT in Schools project – led by University of Edinburgh – has deployed environment sensor technology at more than 40 schools across the Scottish capital.

The tech is designed to collect data on CO2 levels and soil moisture, which is then fed back to a supercomputer at Edinburgh’s International Data Facility, where this information is then turned into graphs that can be accessed online.

The programme intends to roll out the environmental technology to all schools in south east Scotland by the end of the academic year. Full deployment would make Scotland home to “Europe’s largest” IoT network, according to the principal of the University of Edinburgh Peter Mathieson.

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“Data is all around us, shaping the way we live, work and engage with each other: our goal to make the digital sector more accessible to young people is therefore clear,” he said. “The internet of things schools’ network aims to give pupils the confidence, competence and ambition to use data to benefit themselves and their communities in an ever-changing digital world.”

Project leaders hope this initiative will inspire pupils to study STEM subjects or a career in data-driven industries.

The network is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme, which the UK and Scottish governments have funded. Since launching in 2018, the DDI has supported multiple facilities for the university, including the Edinburgh Futures Institute and the National Robotarium, a partnership with Heriot-Watt University.

Part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the programme looks to establish the city as the European data capital while boosting investment and entrepeneurship in the sector. By connecting university researchers with public, private and third sector organisations, the scheme also aims to help tackle global challenges.

UK government minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, said: “This pioneering programme is empowering young minds to gather and use data to learn about their environment, and will hopefully inspire and prepare students for potential careers in the data-driven economy. The UK government is investing £261m in the Data-Driven Innovation programme and more than £380m in levelling up across south east Scotland.”

Sofia Villegas and PublicTechnology

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