Smart technology could help transform rural communities

The use of smart and connected technology has the potential to boost rural communities, according to a new report published today.

Focusing on the agriculture and tourism sectors in rural Wales, rapidly growing technology such as "internet of things" (IOT) – internet-connected devices – could help these areas thrive in future, according to the report.

But, the study, commissioned by BT, says that this will only happen if 'early adopters' and champions of the new technology are supported, and there is continued investment in the availability of high speed broadband and mobile in rural areas.

For agriculture, the report highlights how solutions such as sensors and devices connected to networks are already being trialled in Wales to show how farmers can remotely track and manage their stock, helping to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

The tourism and hospitality industry has also seen a revolution in the use of digital technology in recent years, with smartphones, mapping services and augmented reality apps transforming the way visitors engage with tourist locations. The report highlights the tourism businesses using new technologies to help them work smarter and adapt to rising consumer expectations.

Agriculture and tourism organisations and businesses highlighted in the report include:

  • Fferm Glynllifon, Caernarfon (Grŵp Llandrillo Menai College): Using LoRaWAN wireless technology – a way of linking sensor devices and applications together over a network – they are using cutting-edge sensors to remotely monitor things such as fridge temperature where vaccines are stored, contact sensors monitoring gates and cattle grids, and a tracking device installed on a ram to monitor its movement and whereabouts.

  • Town wi-fi and analytics, Aberteifi (Cardigan): Cardigan’s wi-fi scheme provides free web connectivity at strategic points throughout the town centre. Data from the wi-fi app measure visitor footfall, provide information on where visitors are from and how long they stay and whether measures like free parking make a difference to numbers.

  • Dioni Holiday Cottages, Snowdonia: The company has adopted various cloud-based systems, allowing staff to work remotely from connected devices. They can access their online booking system, web design software and they have plans to develop an app that will allow tourists to plot a route through Wales that is tailored to their preferences.

Rhodri Owen, Manager of Glynllifon college farm near Caernarfon, one of the case studies highlighted in the report, said: “It’s one of the biggest opportunities we have to make farms more efficient, safer and healthier.

“The data generated from these sensors will allow farmers to make better decisions quicker. I really hope to see more farmers getting involved in developing high-value applications in the future, as the agri-tech scene is booming in many parts of the world at the moment.

“A surprising benefit is that technology has made work on the farm more interesting. We are now able to measure and monitor things that we never dreamt of being able to commercially 10 years ago.”

Nick Speed, BT Group’s director in Wales, said: “Connected, smart technology could offer real benefits to rural communities in future. It has the potential to help rural economies grow and encourage young people to stay in these areas.

“This technology is developing quickly and it's pleasing that a lot of the cutting edge rural solutions are being trialled and developed here in Wales. But there are clear challenges to the growth of this technology in rural sectors, including the initial investment needed by businesses and how quickly the gap between rural and urban broadband and mobile connectivity can be closed.

“What we heard from many in rural sectors is that ‘it’s not relevant to my business’ or ‘I just don’t have the time’. Or ‘what will be the return on our investment?’. One of the report’s clear recommendations is to work together to improve digital skills in rural sectors and to help champion those trailblazers already doing amazing things. At BT we’re continuing to invest in rural connectivity, but it’s equally vital to see wider investment in rural innovation and infrastructure.”

BT Group has committed to working with governments to help close the divide between rural and urban areas in terms of the adoption of superfast broadband and good mobile coverage. Earlier this year, it announced a £12 billion investment to enable Openreach to bring full fibre broadband to more than 20 million premises right across the UK, with a focus on rural areas, by the mid-to-late-2020s.

It has also launched new initiatives to help support small businesses (SMEs) – many of which operate in rural areas – and improve digital skill levels across the population.


  • The report – Smart rural: The utilisation of digital infrastructure by the agriculture and tourism sector in rural Wales – was commissioned by BT and written by economic research company Wavehill. While the focus is on agriculture and tourism in rural Wales, the findings can be applied more broadly. Its focus is not digital connectivity itself in rural Wales, but the future ability of rural sectors to take advantage of innovations in connected digital technologies.

  • The case studies are based on interviews undertaken in late 2019 and early 2020. It’s important to note that the interviews were all undertaken prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which does not, therefore, feature in any of them.

  • According to Ofcom's latest ‘Connected Nations’ report, which gives a breakdown of broadband speeds available across the UK, the vast majority of properties in Wales (97%) can now access decent broadband (defined by Ofcom as 10Mbit/s download and 1Mbit/s upload speed). The figure across the UK is 98%. Continued investment will be needed to connect the small number of homes and businesses, many of them in rural areas, still unable to get a decent broadband service.

  • As part of the 2020 spring budget, the Chancellor confirmed the UK Government’s intention to invest £5bn to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the most difficult to reach 20% of the UK. BT also announced recently a £12 billion investment to enable Openreach to bring ‘full fibre’ (FTTP) to more than 20 million homes across the UK by the mid-to late 2020s. A significant proportion of this build will be in rural areas.

  • In terms of mobile, coverage has improved significantly across the UK in recent years. EE, part of BT Group, runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network and, according to Ofcom, already covers 82% of rural geography across the UK, and 84% of the UK landmass. This is higher than any other network. The UK’s mobile companies have invested over £45 billion over the last 20 years in their networks. But, as Ofcom’s report highlights, coverage remains patchy in parts of the UK, including in rural Wales. However, rural mobile coverage is set to increase as a result of the new Shared Rural Network (SRN) announced last year. The shared £1bn investment will bring combined 4G coverage to 95% of the whole of the UK by the end of 2025.

Digital skills

BT Skills for Tomorrow is helping 10 million people in the UK make the most of life in the digital world. It is designed to help everyone – from school children and teachers, parents and families, businesses and jobseekers, to older and more vulnerable people. Working in partnership with a range of the UK’s leading digital skills, enterprise and community organisations, BT have created and collated some of the best advice, information and support, in one easy to navigate place.


Gallai technoleg glyfar helpu i drawsnewid cymuned gwledig

Mae gan dechnoleg newydd clyfar, cysylltiedig y potensial i drawsnewid cymunedau gwledig, yn ôl adroddiad newydd a gyhoeddwyd heddiw.

Mae’r adroddiad, sy’n canolbwyntio ar sectorau amaeth a thwristiaeth yng nghefn gwlad Cymru, yn dweud y gall y twf mewn technoleg “rhyngrwyd y pethau” (IoT) – dyfeisiau clyfar sy’n cysylltu â'r rhyngrwyd – helpu’r ardaloedd hyn i ffynnu yn y dyfodol.

Ond, mae’r astudiaeth, a gomisiynwyd gan BT, yn rhybuddio na fydd hyn yn digwydd oni bai bod arloeswyr a 'mabwysiadwyr cynnar' y dechnoleg newydd yn cael eu cefnogi, a bod buddsoddiad parhaus yn argaeledd band eang cyflym a rhwydweithiau ffonau symudol mewn ardaloedd gwledig.

O ran amaethyddiaeth, mae'r adroddiad yn tynnu sylw at sut mae datrysiadau fel sensoryddion a dyfeisiau sy'n gysylltiedig â rhwydweithiau, eisoes yn cael eu treialu yng Nghymru i ddangos sut y gall ffermwyr olrhain a rheoli eu stoc o bell, gan helpu i leihau costau a chynyddu effeithlonrwydd.

Mae'r diwydiant twristiaeth hefyd wedi gweld chwyldro yn y defnydd o dechnoleg ddigidol yn ystod y blynyddoedd diwethaf, gyda ffonau clyfar, gwasanaethau mapio ac apiau realiti estynedig (Augmented Reality) yn trawsnewid y ffordd y mae ymwelwyr yn ymgysylltu â lleoliadau twristiaeth. Mae'r adroddiad yn tynnu sylw at fusnesau twristiaeth yng Nghymru sy'n defnyddio technolegau newydd i'w helpu i weithio'n fwy clyfar ac addasu i ddisgwyliadau cynyddol ymwelwyr.

Mae enghreifftiau o'r sectorau amaethyddol a thwristiaeth yn cynnwys:

  • Fferm Glynllifon, Caernarfon (Grŵp Llandrillo Menai): Gan ddefnyddio technoleg ddi-wifr LoRaWAN – ffordd o gysylltu dyfeisiau a sensoryddion gyda'i gilydd dros rwydwaith – maent yn defnyddio y sensoryddion diweddara i fonitro pethau fel tymheredd oergell lle mae brechlynnau'n cael eu storio, sensoryddion cyswllt sy’n monitro gatiau a gridiau gwartheg, a dyfais olrhain wedi ei osod ar hwrdd i fonitro ei symudiad a’i leoliad.

  • Ap Wi-fi tref clyfar, Aberteifi: Mae cynllun wi-fi Aberteifi yn darparu cysylltedd gwe am ddim mewn mannau strategol drwy ganol y dref. Mae data o'r ap wi-fi yn mesur nifer yr ymwelwyr, yn darparu gwybodaeth ar ble mae gwylwyr ac am ba hyd y maent yn aros ac os yw mesurau fel parcio am ddim yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i niferoedd yr ymwelwyr.

  • Bythynnod Gwyliau Dioni, Eryri: Mae'r cwmni wedi mabwysiadu amryw o systemau ‘cwmwl’, sy’n caniatáu i staff weithio o bell drwy amryw ddyfeisiau cysylltiedig. Gall pob aelod o staff gysylltu a’u system archebu ar-lein, eu meddalwedd dylunio gwe ac mae ganddynt gynlluniau i ddatblygu ap a fydd yn caniatáu i dwristiaid blotio llwybr trwy Gymru sydd wedi'i deilwra i bob ymwelydd.

Dywedodd Rhodri Owen, Rheolwr fferm coleg Glynllifon ger Caernarfon, un o’r enghrieffitau yn yr adroddiad: “Dyma un o’r cyfleoedd mwyaf sydd gennym i wneud ffermydd yn fwy effeithlon, yn fwy diogel ac yn fwy iach.

“Bydd y data a gynhyrchir o’r sensoryddion yma yn galluogi ffermwyr i wneud penderfyniadau gwell yn gynt. Dw i’n mawr obeithio gweld mwy o ffermwyr yn cymryd rhan yn y gwaith o ddatblygu rhaglenni gwerthfawr yn y dyfodol, gan fod y maes technoleg amaethyddol yn ffynnu mewn sawlrhan o’r byd ar hyn o bryd.

“Un o’r buddion annisgwyl yw bod y dechnoleg yma wedi gwneud gwaith ar y fferm yn fwy diddorol. Rydym ni bellach yn gallu mesur a monitro pethau na fyddem erioed wedi dychmygu gallu ei wneud yn fasnachol 10 mlynedd yn ôl.”

Dywedodd Nick Speed, cyfarwyddwr BT Group yng Nghymru: “Gallai technoleg clyfar cysylltiedig gynnig buddion gwirioneddol i gymunedau gwledig yn y dyfodol. Mae ganddo'r potensial i helpu economïau gwledig i dyfu ac annog pobl ifanc i aros yn yr ardaloedd hyn.

“Mae'r dechnoleg hon yn datblygu'n gyflym ac mae'n braf bod llawer o'r rhagleni blaengar gwledig yn cael eu treialu a'u datblygu yma yng Nghymru. Ond mae heriau amlwg i dwf y dechnoleg hon mewn sectorau gwledig, gan gynnwys y buddsoddiad cychwynnol sydd ei angen ar fusnesau a pha mor gyflym y gellir cau'r bwlch rhwng band eang a chysylltedd symudol gwledig a threfol.

“Yr hyn a glywsom gan lawer mewn sectorau gwledig yw nad ydi’r dechnoleg yn berthnasol iddyn nhw neu ‘does gen i ddim yr amser ’. Neu sut y byddant yn elwa o'u buddsoddiad. Un o argymhellion clir yr adroddiad yw cydweithio i wella sgiliau digidol mewn sectorau gwledig ac i helpu i hyrwyddo'r arloeswyr hynny sydd eisoes yn gwneud pethau anhygoel. Yn BT, rydym yn parhau i fuddsoddi mewn cysylltedd gwledig, ond mae'r un mor hanfodol gweld buddsoddiad ehangach mewn arloesi a seilwaith gwledig. ”

Mae BT Group wedi ymrwymo i weithio gyda llywodraethau i helpu i gau'r bwlch rhwng ardaloedd gwledig a threfol o ran mabwysiadu band eang cyflym iawn a chysylltedd symudol da. Yn gynharach eleni, cyhoeddodd BT Group fuddsoddiad o £ 12 biliwn i alluogi Openreach i ddod â band eang ffibr llawn i fwy nag 20 miliwn o adeiladau ledled y DU, gan ganolbwyntio ar ardaloedd gwledig, erbyn canol i ddiwedd y 2020au.

Mae hefyd wedi lansio mentrau newydd i helpu i gefnogi busnesau bach (SMEs) a gwella lefelau sgiliau digidol ar draws y boblogaeth.


Comisiynwyd yr adroddiad – Ardaloedd gwledig clyfar: Defnydd o seilwaith digidol gan y sectorau amaeth a thwristiaeth yng Nghymru wledig – gan BT a'i ysgrifennu gan y cwmni ymchwil economaidd Wavehill. Er bod y ffocws ar amaethyddiaeth a thwristiaeth yng nghefn gwlad Cymru, gellir defnyddio'r canfyddiadau yn ehangach. Nid cysylltedd digidol ei hun yng nghefn gwlad Cymru yw ei ffocws, ond gallu sectorau gwledig yn y dyfodol i fanteisio ar ddatblygiadau mewn technolegau digidol cysylltiedig.