Workshops by the sea

Our love affair with Wales continues!

For quite a while now Thingitude has been helping colleagues in the Welsh Assembly understand and promote the benefits of LoRaWAN as an IoT network for rural areas. Over the last few months our combined efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Recently Thingitude was commissioned to run two 2-day workshops at MITEC in Milford Haven, one the western tip of the Pembrokeshre coast


Welcome board at Mitec
MITEC – our host for the workshops

Attendees for the workshops were a mix of professionals from two large local businesses: petrochemical refinery Valero and energy company RWE, and IT and electronics students from Pembrokeshire College plus staff from the college.

Day 1 of the workshop was an introduction to Internet of Things, LoRaWAN and The Things Network, with group activities to workshop and evaluate different problems or challenges at work, college or the surrounding area where The Things Network could potentially help.

Students and professionals working together
Mike and I were keen that students and professionals worked together on developing ideas where The Things Network could be useful, so we paired up half the students with Valero and half with RWE to create 2 groups of 6. This seemed to work very well and the ideas began to flow, along with some friendly inter-group rivalry to produce the best use cases!

Post-uts and flipchart - Matching use cases to network technology
Matching use cases to network technology
One of the things we emphasize in our workshops is that different use cases suit different network technologies and that LoRaWAN does some things really well, and is totally unsuitable for other use cases, so we got the groups to match their ideas to the most appropriate network technology, before focusing in more detail on the ones that best suit LoRaWAN.

Voting for the best use cases

Once their initial ideas had been categorized and refined, the groups presented their use cases to everyone in the room, and then the voting began. There were some really excellent use cases with a focus on personal safety, monitoring levels of chemicals, and security.

Getting to grips with programming an ioT device

Day 2 of each workshop was very much a hands-on day where attendees would programme and connect sensors to the internet using The Things Network.
They would configure their devices on The Things Network, and then pass the data from the sensors through to a dashboard so they could chart differences in (for example) temperature or light over time. Then they would use the data to do something – in this case send them an email when an alert was received.

Student vigorously shaking a motion sensor
Rigorous testing of a motion sensor!

The first bit of the second day is a bit fiddly because there are a few new user sign-up processes to go through. Each “Please check your email and click on the link to validate your account” makes my heart sink! I am constantly looking to streamline this, but soon enough the attendees had programmed their devices* and were seeing data get through to The Things Network.

After the workshops, the gateway was relocated to the main college campus in Haverfordwest, and it will be exciting to see what projects the electronics and IT students use it for over the coming months.

IoT for the dairy farm from Morgan Walsh Consultancy
The workshops are part of a bigger initiative to increase awareness of IoT and LoRaWAN among businesses in Pembrokeshire. I spoke at a business breakfast the following morning and there was a lot of enthusiasm and support for a regional network.

Dragon WiFi talking at a business breakfast meeting in Pembroke Dock
I shared the stage with 2 local businesses who are already engaged. Morgan Walsh Consultancy has developed an interesting solution aimed primarily at dairy farmers, and Dragon WiFi is very well placed and willing to help deploy the network.

If you are interested in learning more about the Internet of Things and how it could help your organisation, please get in touch.

* We use the Things Node in our workshops because they come with several easy to programme sensors and are housed in a waterproof case with a button and LED.

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