How we’re helping to build a world-leading “living laboratory” for central Scotland

By Alan Lees, Director of Scotland, BT's Enterprise unit

Today, we made an exciting advancement in the use of 5G technology for the environmental sector. We’re helping our partner University of Stirling to launch a world-leading “living laboratory” for central Scotland. The laboratory is a state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system and is the first of its kind in the UK to help businesses in the region make intelligent and data driven business decisions.

This is a truly exciting milestone for us. The laboratory will have access to our award winning 5G network which we recently switched on in the Stirling area. We now have 5G in over 100 locations in the UK, making these kinds of exciting innovations and partnerships possible.

The living laboratory project, led by the University of Stirling will work by capturing, processing and sharing data from across Forth Valley using EE 5G. Using sensors, satellite data and AI, the laboratory will provide vital information on water quality to inform decisions that could help provide major economic and sustainability efforts to that area.

The Forth Valley has played a significant role in Scotland’s industrial revolution, and it’s exciting to think about how these kinds of projects will also help drive the next digital revolution and help the transition to a net-zero economy. And, as the economy begins to build again following the impacts from Covid-19, we know that technology – and particularly 5G – will help to enable jobs, revive the business industry and help as part of our green recovery program.

So how will it work? Initially, we will work with our partners to demonstrate how the platform can be used to: monitor water quality in drinking water reservoirs; provide near real-time forecasts of bathing water quality; provide early warning and monitoring of floods; and demonstrate environmental compliance in the brewing and distilling sector. The flood monitoring element will span the full catchment of the River Forth, while the other cases will focus on the River Leven sub catchment.

In the long-term, the solution could be applied in a wide range of settings and across multiple sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, shipping and navigation, food and drink, biodiversity and conservation, oil and gas, renewables and low carbon, green tourism, local and national governance and public health. The possibilities are endless and it’s humbling to see how technology can play a fundamental role in our environmental efforts.

We made a pledge to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045, and with our partnership with University of Stirling, we can demonstrate how other businesses can benefit from environment-based solutions too. We’re proud to bring our network leadership to this partnership and hope this will help businesses to look at innovative technology to help make informed and environmentally safe business decisions.