Barter For Things
Driving LPWAN innovation in Hampshire
Barter for Things are an LPWAN focused systems integrator that were the initiators of the LPWAN network around Southampton. They are a Sigfox connectivity merchants working with WND to rollout LPWAN across the region. Barter for Things is run by Alex Barter and is an innovation initiative working in Hampshire with six employees. The company works across sectors – whether tackling local authority challenges around social housing or trying to help water providers with leaks in their systems.
Progress so far
Alex was part of Archiva, working on a range of tech innovations in IoT including legionnaires detection. However, the lack of a national network for IoT put a dampener on plans for expansion. Instead, Alex decided to focus on building a regional IoT network, developing a local ecosystem that could help foster innovation across the area.
He started to develop the market before the rollout of the network. There are currently 400 members in the network – a mix of businesses and academics. He has worked with the local authorities in the area to find suitable sites for free. Sigfox operator WND have given Barter For Things equipment which has gone onto the free sites and Barter for Things have channel partner status allowing them to be the main operators of the Hampshire network. This has allowed Alex to ensure that the network is getting used by key players to help benefit the local community as he is on the ground talking about the projects and building the potential partnerships which lead to successful IoT initiatives.
There are currently two large commercial contracts on the network with their own private networks. Alex said, ‘Southampton City Council is miles ahead when it comes to IoT rollout. LPWAN is part of their digital strategy because they have seen the benefits. For example, they have a £1.6 million budget for supported living. Through rolling out some IoT enablers in this area, they’re expecting to see 25% savings. They also get a revenue share in all of the projects that happen on the network which allows them to generate additional income when council budgets are being tightly squeezed.’ Southampton City Council is now running programmes with other councils, helping to reap the benefits of IoT across the UK. Alex said: ‘by reselling services to other councils, it’s been a real opportunity for them. We have trained the people at the council who can now go and train other councils to do the same.’
Alex isn’t resting on his laurels. He said, ‘I have worked to get IoT on the curriculum at the local college. By seeding digital skills through grassroots programmes and in schools, we can have a forward thinking and informed local population. The idea is to get these kids moved into digital officer roles so that the digital transformation can happen more easily.’They have recently received £150,000 to invest further in people and platforms. There are plans to venture into machine learning initiatives using data generated from LPWAN. Alex said: ‘analysis is the next step – using data science to augment the work that is already going on and use the data to predict and respond proactively instead of reactively to changing situations.’ There are also exciting plans afoot to open a new project on the high street on Southampton, enabling Barter for Things to continue their IoT revolution in the city.