A year ago, one would have hoped that at this stage in 2021 we would be in a relatively reasonable position to make some predictions for the 12 months that await us. However, we find ourselves in an extremely similar position to where we were last December.
Although it may seem difficult to look to the future with so much uncertainty in the near future, there are still some distinct trends emerging that are likely to form the next 12 months, offering positive steps from an environmental perspective as well challenges in other respects.
Here are five topics we expect to play an important role in Scottish technology in 2022:
1 – Sustainability through IoT
Perhaps no surprise given that COP26 took place in Glasgow this year, but sustainability is likely to be the predominant technology theme during 2022.
More sectors are realizing how the two can be combined – particularly through the Internet of Things (IoT) – and applied to relevant uses such as asset tracking, energy reduction and environmental monitoring, going beyond just talking about its potential.
Over the past year or so, infrastructure, such as LoRaWAN and mobile networks, has become more available and offers a new level of connectivity, especially in urban areas. This will make it easier to deploy new pilots and test cases.
2 – Local government leads IoT from pilot to ladder
We look forward to seeing some great examples of IoT projects in local government advancing by pilots in full-scale applications on the back of making investments and demonstrating operational benefits.
There are likely to be at least a handful of examples, ranging from building monitoring and monitoring of garbage levels in public bins, to intelligent lighting. We saw an example of the latter in 2019 when the Aberdeen City Council announced the launch of its intelligent street lighting, allowing them to be controlled, dimmed and monitored remotely.
Working with the digital infrastructure team of the Local Government Digital Office, we are gathering the best examples from across Scotland to make the country a leader in terms of best practices for the use of IoT by local authorities.
3 – More 5G networks
5G has gained momentum during the pandemic, with TV commercials selling its potential uses to consumers. However, the most interesting aspect of 5G will be the fact that it allows organizations to create their own private networks, which can allow local processing applications enabling interesting uses in robotics and industrial IoT.
Many different use cases can be applied for this and last year one of the first private 5G networks was set up at the Scottish National Production Institute. As exciting as they are, the warning is that they are also relatively expensive.
It’s still early days and companies are just starting to explore the different ways they can be used, but we expect to see more private networks set up over the next 12 months as 5G becomes more prevalent in manufacturing and by large property businesses, for example. like ports and airports.
4 – Supply chain challenges will continue
Some of the challenges of the last 12 months are likely to last until 2022 – beyond Covid-19’s most obvious impact, supply chain issues seem to be among them. The pandemic has had a number of shocking effects on many sectors, one of which has been the lack of electronics.
In recent months it has affected companies of all sizes and led to significant production times for a range of products, including electric vehicles. Companies will need to incorporate potential deficiencies into their plans and be careful to ensure they have access to all the components and parts they need.
As we see it to be a problem in the first half of next year, we will hopefully see this ease in the second half.
5 – Increased use of IoT in cases of regulated use
Finally, we expect to see more use of IoT and similar technologies for regulatory purposes. A recent example of this that has already begun to emerge was a recent announcement by the UK Government that it would begin trials of a ‘smart’ customs border to support smoother trade with post-Brexit Europe.
Similarly, water safety and environmental monitoring are areas with good potential for the application of IoT technologies, where there is a legal requirement for businesses and public sector organizations to report to regulatory bodies.
There may be a lot of trading potential for companies offering technology in these markets, as well as other regulated industries, over the next 12 months.