Headline image for Behind the Scenes of Connected Hull

Behind the Scenes of Connected Hull

Connected Hull has delivered workshops across the city that have engaged people of all ages discovering the advantages of collecting and sharing remote data, but how does the technology behind it work?

The project is built on top of the Things Network, a global movement that democratises data connectivity and makes it possible for communities to deploy their own radio networks.

The Things Network uses LoRaWAN technology; an emerging radio protocol that has a number of unique advantages over existing solutions.

slide explaining how lorawan works with low power and radio

LoRaWAN is low power, license exempt (meaning it is free to use) and has a long range (16km).

The geography of Hull is largely flat so we were able to install just a few base stations that would receive LoRaWAN messages and forward them onto the Things Network servers, which in turn forward the data onto our Connected Hull server. The data is stored in a database for the Connected Hull servers, before it is displayed as graphs and tables.

Users can view the data in the website or access it programmatically via a json api to incorporate in their own application. Alternatively, users can connect directly to the Things Network servers and have the data forwarded onto them if they are technically confident.

slide explaining how connected hull project works via hardware and the things network

We built gateways based on Raspberry Pi, with a custom PCB to link with the LoRaWAN interface.

hardware components used include raspberry pi to build a gateway for connected hull

The design is available from our project’s GitHub site here.

The goal of Connected Hull was to be inclusive, and by adopting this modular architecture it makes it possible for anyone to make a start by receiving data, while still permitting advanced uses to get access to the raw data.

This approach was also taken when providing facilities for programming the devices that would be in the field collecting data.

example of code using drag and drop functionality to collect data from a sensor node

The devices can be programmed in Python or via drag and drop blocks. Also, by providing access to other people’s projects, new users can explore already working code and then adapt and remix the code for their own applications.

Header image by Jerome Whittingham

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Headline image for Race Day Telemetry in Hull with Project Blyth

Race Day Telemetry in Hull with Project Blyth

Introduced to Vaughn Curnow from Project Blyth earlier this year, we were gripped within minutes by the exciting learning opportunities offered by the programme!

Run by the Greenpower Education Trust, Sunday 16th July 2017 saw the culmination of many collaborations centred around inspiring young people through STEM.

Teams of students, ranging in age from 9 years to Post-16, raced single seat electric cars that they'd built over time with the support of industry mentors. The circuit was located around the KCOM Stadium in Hull.

photo taken from the front of an electric race car before the start of the race as teacher carries out final checks with students, driver sitting and ready in car

Our Connected Hull project was able to support by offering research and trials of telemetry possibilities via The Things Network, particularly to teams we'd worked with during prototype phases of hardware and software.

One students pushing the team's Project Blyth race car on the tarmac before the race with driver ready, photo from side angle

One school was Francis Askew Primary in Hull, and you can hear their team of 9-11 year old engineers talking about using sensors and data collection to impact on their own driving performance.

The podcast below also includes snippets from their teacher about how future developments with sensor technology can support them with particular aspects of car efficiency.

We'll share data and a closer look at the technology added to the builds in the next blogpost.

teacher doing final checks on the car before Project Blyth race with adult ready holding a chequered flag to start

Images and podcast by Jerome Whittingham

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Connecting Learning

Background

The Building Schools for the Future programme in Hull gave school leaders an opportunity to redefine education for nearly 12,000 students. That delivery team is now working with partners to build a legacy for the entire city, borne out of an original pledge to connect communities, raise aspirations and support digital skills to bring about positive change.

Gateways are go!

Our first gateway was installed and tested on a city centre rooftop in February, and has been receiving data ever since. The longest transmission so far was from a sensor node located across the Humber - a whopping 22.61km away.

Look out for further gateways going live across the city in the coming weeks.

What's next?

Ideas and possibilities. Connected Hull is an inclusive programme of digital opportunities, with education at it’s core, and an intention to become a catalyst for innovation across the city. Project ideas will emerge over time as communities connect and we share smart citizenship through the blog.

Got an idea? Get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.

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