A leading tech firm says the Internet of Things will play a vital role in the Tees region’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The internet, which allowed people to communicate with people, has now evolved into letting technology communicate with technology through devices such as Alexa smart speakers, FitBits and Tesla.
The market is now so huge, around 20.4 billion IoT devices are currently online, with 127 added every minute.
This mass sharing of data brings a number of benefits in terms of accessing information and creating new solutions – but what does it mean in practice?
Paul Drake, operations manager at digital software specialists Sapere, explains: “We have worked on a number of IoT solutions over the years, although it’s never been necessarily put under the umbrella of the Internet of Things.
“The possibilities are endless, and can bring real benefits in terms of costs and efficiencies to all types of businesses.
“Here on Teesside, we have a really exciting tech sector, and the work that is being done on the next generation of the internet is proof of that.”
As if to highlight the sheer variety of industries that can benefit from IoT technology, one of Sapere’s latest projects is with pest control firm Greenway Integrated Pest Management, in collaboration with CPI.
Part of the project has been funded through the Sonnet programme, a European scheme giving CPI the means to support regional SME companies in IoT product development.
Sapere has been working with Greenway to provide software consultancy, design and development services to create an innovative bespoke web-based application with IoT 4.0 capabilities. The solution allows the business to manage leads, quotes, jobs and invoices – all from one place.
A Bluetooth printer can be connected with the app to print out QR codes and stickers to stick to ethical traps, allowing Greenway to manage locations of traps and build up a heatmap of activity.
To enhance the capabilities of the solution an IoT 4.0 collection of sensors is being developed in partnership with CPI to capture data for the app. The sensors will provide real-time accurate data analysis on vermin activity, allowing Greenway to create a much more comprehensive picture of the problem and react ethically and quickly to customer vermin challenges.
Andrew Hancock, of Greenway, explained: “The pending IoT 4.0 capabilities of app will very much be a unique selling point for us, but not in a gimmicky way; this is something that will actually help the customer – and help us run more efficiently.
“The pest control industry as a whole is already moving this way; infrared monitoring is on the rise, and you can now find traps where, when it shuts, it sends a signal to say that a pest has been caught.
“This is all technology we’re keen to get on board with now, and we’re happy to be working with Sapere and CPI to bring our plans to fruition.”
With such a high-profile and innovative tech landscape in Teesside, there is no shortage of collaborators for like-minded firms.
Dr Simon Johnson, of CPI, said: “We are finding that lots of businesses in the North East have some very smart ideas, as well as there being plenty of exciting companies here that are do very interesting tech developments.
“At CPI, firms will often approach us and suggest ways of using technologies that we haven’t seen before. However, we do also try to lead people down a path where their investment is going to be valuable for the next 10 years instead of two – it’s all about longevity.”
Paul, who set up Sapere with co-founder Shaun Merrifield in 2007, believes the IoT will be vital to the North East’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have so many fantastic businesses here in the North East, and I think collaborations such as these are the only way we’re going to improve the region’s economy in a sustained, effective way.
“We have developed numerous, successful IoT solutions for many firms over the years, including Kromek, Palintest and Traceco, and we know that there are many other industries that could reap the benefits of this solution.
“We are always looking to work with forward-thinking firms who want to succeed, and would encourage anyone with an idea of how IoT can help them to get in touch – you never know what the technology can achieve.”
For more information on Sapere and its services, visit sapere.co.uk.