Meeting #4

Chris Dymond


Posted on 06-12-2017

We held what was actually the fourth(!) meeting of the Things Network Sheffield community on Monday the 4th December, prior to the SmartSheffield meetup at Arup, in the city centre.

Unfortunately, I never managed to write up meetings 2 and 3 in time, but things are now starting to come together more, and this is therefore a long overview update.


  • Chris Dymond: Sheffield Digital & Unfolding (Chair).
  • Sarah Cullen: Sheffield City Council
  • Simon Cookson: Northern Value Creators / Hive IT
  • Matt Proctor: Arup UK
  • Tim Rivett: Tim Rivett Consulting Ltd
  • Perry Ismangi: Teluu
  • Simon Shakespeare: Hive IT
  • David Oliver: Sheffield City Council
  • Roy Woodhead: Sheffield Hallam University
  • Steve Jubb: University of Sheffield
  • George Taylor: Caudata
  • Chris Longbottom: Mobile Power
  • Ian Ibbotson: Knowledge Integration Ltd


  • Simon Redding: Systems Makers & Spire Digital
  • Craig Pickles: Becotix
  • Scott & Connor Walker
  • Stuart Grimshaw: Digital Mesters Ltd
  • Joachim Dreiman: WANdisco

(There are currently 22 people on the mailing list, 17 registered as contributors at TTN. If you are not on the mailing list, but would like to be, please drop me a line)

Communications & Organising

There has been very little activity on the #Sheffield channel on the Things Network's Slack. Joining it is a bit of a rogmorole, and they have also disabled @channel and @here mentions, which means you can't force-notify everyone who has joined the channel, or those of them who are currently online, respectively.
We therefore agreed to use the #internetofthings channel on the Sheffield Digital slack instead, as many people in the community already use it, and we should be embracing the broader local IoT community rather than just the Things Network, anyway.
Joining the Sheffield Digital Slack is easy, just fill out this form to receive an invitation.

> Chris D will set the channel topics and direct people from the Things Network slack, and the community page, to the correct Slack channel.

Jez Daughty from Sheffield Honey suggested setting up a Sheffield thread on the Things Network Forum. We did suggest doing this during the meeting, but in retrospect it might be better to keep communications in one place (the #internetofthings channel on the Sheffield Digital Slack), but make sure we signpost where the conversation is happening and how to join.
If there are people who really do want to use the forum, for instance to better organise some of the initiatives, please let me know!

The TTN Sheffield meeting is currently held roughly every two months, to coincide with the SmartSheffield meetup. Given the number of things going on now, I wonder if it would make sense to increase this to monthly. I will suggest this pn Slack, please let me know what you think. If we did do it monthly, we might need a new venue (unless Arup are happy to host?) We could shift it to a different time of the day, if it would be more convenient - say lunchtimes and everyone brings a sandwich, say?

> Chris D to suggest this on Slack

As mentioned at the top, I haven't been able to write up the last two meetings. This is crucially important though, to keep everyone informed and engaged. Going forwards I will commit to the following:

  • Managing the mailing list (this is kept in Mailchimp as a sub group of the main SmartSheffield list).
  • Managing the TTN Sheffield community page.
  • Managing the @ThingsSHF twitter account.
  • Arranging the meetings and inviting people.
  • Chairing the meetings.
  • Writing the meetings up and publishing the write ups.

I will not be able to organise much, if anything, outside of these tasks, so people need to step forward to take things on.
The following people have offered to help and support:

  • Roy Woodhead
  • Perry Ismangil
  • Ian Ibbotson (especially arounf application development activities).
  • The guys at Hive IT.

Thanks guys, I really appreciate it! I'll let you know when there are things I just can't get to. This makes me feel a lot better about the great ideas from the meetings being taken forward :) Also, if we do decide to go to monthly meetings, I may not always be able to write the meetings up afterwards, either. We could perhaps decide who will do this on a meeting by meeting bases though.

> Chris D to ask for support when needed. Community members to progress initiatives outside of organising the meetings & running the community.


What gateways do we have in the field and planned?

Currently in the field:

  • Sheffield Honey (Jez Daughtry) have put the first Sheffield TTN gateway in the field, near Dungworth (well done!!).

On their way:

  • Scott and Connor have a single band gateway. Is it live yet?
  • Craig Pickles at Becotix has a single band gateway. Is it live yet?
  • Perry Ismangil has a TTN one coming. Kickstarter distribution has apparently commenced.
  • Hive IT also have a TTN one on its way.
  • The Urban Flows Observatory (Steve Jubb) have commissioned one to go on top of Firth Court(?) along with a WNDUK Sigfox gateway. Install is set for February.
  • Wandisco have offered to host a gateway & provide power & backhaul. Perhaps one from the Hackathon (see below)?

Other platforms:
Sheffield Hallam are working with the Digital Catapult to explore their Things Connected network and have commissioned a single TN gateway, on the Owen Building. This provides an alternative platform for application development. Hallam are also developing a wider offer and community around IoT - there will be more information on this in the new year.

Other places
Barnsley (Matt Brailsford) have 3 gateways in the field, and have launched the IoT Tribe accelerator at the Digital Media Centre.
Chesterfield (Simon Redding) have started the community, but have no gateways yet (see hackathon).
Rotherham, Doncaster, Worksop have no TTN community yet.

We have talked in the past about the idea of running a 'gateway build hackathon' along with Chesterfield, and perhaps some other nearby places, to get some (non-TTN brand) gateways into the field.
Steve Jubb declared that the Urban Flows Observatory are interested in making this happen, and should be able to fund thecomponents for 6 gateway builds (2 each for 3 places). We sugested that the places could be Sheffield, Chesterfield and Rotherham (if we can find someone to start a TTN community there).
The hackathon could provide strands for more than just gateway builds - i.e. have a strand for sensor and application builds, as well. And potentially involvement from local schools.
Sheffield Hackspace are interested in hosting.
Hive IT are also interested in hosting and helping to organise.
In terms of timings, the hackathon would need to be held after the beginning of April.

> We should develop this idea and produce an outline of the event early in the new year!

Sensor Competition
In addition to the hackathon, the Urban Flows Observatory has also announced their first IoT competition challenge. There will be 3 competitions, one each year of the urban flows project, and this first one is focussed on sensors - i.e. what can be measured that will add data useful into the observatory?
Winning entries will get £4,000 for kit to build their sensors, and expressions of interest are invited by mid-December (so not long now!)
The Observatory's website will be up shortly, but meanwhile here's their twitter account, details on the competition is currently linked from the pinned tweet.

> We should individually and collectively help to promote the competition (and enter it if we have a good idea!)

Architecture & Development

We need to develop more expertise in TTN architecture and software development. We asked 2 main questions:

Who in our community is looking at this from a software perspective?

  • Roy Woodhead
  • Ian Ibbotson
  • Simon Shakespeare
    Is there anyone else? (Let me know and I will add you here).

> We should add our interests to our profiles on the Things Network Sheffield community page, if that's sensible. And perhaps keep a list of member contact details and interests as a shared resource on the page as well?

How can we get more expertise into the community?

  • We could invite somone from Manchester or Leeds to come and talk to us about this. (Roy has invited Julien Tate to visit in the new year).
  • We could host an IoT devs meetup/evening. It could cover cautionary "Lessons from the IoT Trenches", as well as best practice.
  • This could be held at the Siemens MindSphere Lounge in the Diamond Building?
  • We should develop some kind of strategy around data, and reducing the risk of it becoming siloed. Can the observatory help with this? Or the council's open data platform?

> We should organise this IoT developers event & invite one or more poeple from other communities along to speak.


We also talked about interests and whether anyone is currently building an application (also with a view to encouraging entries to the Urban Flows competition)

No one present is actively building anything yet, but here are people's interests:

  • George Taylor: Intersted in housing quality, for instance detecting changes in building cladding by sensing temp and humidity.
  • Perry Ismangil: Interested in Air Quality monitoring~
  • Ian Ibbotson: Interested in traffic, transport, people flows.
  • Tim Revitt: Interested in backup notifications of communication system failures.
  • Sarah Cullen: Interested in health & wellbeing applications, and outreach to young people.
  • Roy Woodhead: Also interested in IoT for construction and housing.
  • Chris Longbottom: Interested in using IoT to enhance Mobile Power's energy distribution network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

~ Ian Ibbotson pointed out that one thing the Air Quality+ project taught them was that monitoring air quality only told them what they already knew, i.e. that the air quality is very poor in the city. But in order to work out how they could make a difference to it, you'd be better off measuring flows of people and traffic. UflO are also going to be measuring air quality with high-precision sensors (as well as weather).

> These application interests should also be made visible on the community page somehow.


Unless my notes are incomplete, the AOB discussions concerned the hackathon and IoT devs evening, and have been covered in the appropriate sections already. Please let me know if I've forgotten anything!

And thanks everyone for coming, and Arup for hosting us again. Let's carry the conversation on on Slack :)

Cheers all,
Chris Dymond (Unfolding and Sheffield Digital)