As a sign of increasing localised investment in IoT networks, in recent days both the Scottish Government and Australia’s City of the Gold Coast have announced IoT networks using low power technology solutions. The Scottish Government’s plan is part of a wider initiative to promote IoT services across the Scottish economy whereas the Gold Coast City Council’s approached is more focused on the immediate delivery of public services. The contrasting approaches highlight the wide potential for IoT deployments whether as major platforms of technology and telecommunications projects or as localised responses to improving defined problems. As both projects show, the successful delivery of an IoT network project requires an end-to-end view of potential legal issues that may arise, e.g., vendor/RFP management, network rollout agreements, spectrum licensing, security, interoperability and privacy.
On August 26, the Scottish Government announced a £6 million project to develop a new telecommunications network called “IoT Scotland”, that will provide a wireless sensor network to support IoT devices without using WiFi or mobile networks. IoT Scotland will use a low power wide area technology solution (LoRa) and has been described by the Scottish Government as “the most advanced ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) network in the UK”. It is hoped that IoT Scotland will allow business and the public sector to develop new applications to improve efficiency and productivity and drive the uptake of IoT across Scotland in sectors ranging from manufacturing to agriculture, in addition to boosting its various connected city initiatives. The Scottish capital Edinburgh continues to grow as a major UK tech hub, and the Scottish Government is keen to establish the whole of Scotland as a location for business to explore new sensor technologies and to take those to a global market, with the IoT Scotland project flagged as a priority by the Scottish Government in the 2017/18 Programme for Government.
On August 29, the National Narrowband Network Company announced that it has signed a contract with the City of the Gold Coast, Australia’s second largest council, to deploy Australia’s largest LoRa network to date in an area of more than 1,300 square kilometers. The City of the Gold Coast initially intends to focus use of the network on digital water metering, waste management and other community services such the management of parks and sporting fields.
These recent developments in the rollout of wide ranging advanced IoT network initiatives – literally happening on both sides of the globe within the same week – is a clear indicator of the significance that forward looking governments and cities are attaching to IoT connectivity on a number of different levels, and the investment and opportunities IoT continues to attract and offer. While many legal issues are likely to arise out of IoT network projects, some key legal aspects include vendor/RFP management, network rollout agreements, spectrum licensing, security, interoperability and privacy. It is essential to take a joined up and end-to-end view of these issues to ensure successful project delivery.