ThingsManchester invites you to go out and drop in

ThingsManchester wants to create an open and accessible Internet of Things network for Manchester – and you can get involved via regular drop ins at The Shed.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform our relationship with the internet, our cities, and the objects we use in everyday life. But who will ultimately have control over our access to any IoT data network is still very much up for grabs.

While one model of development involves large telecommunication companies carving out a market by charging people to access their closed networks – an approach counter to the founding principles of the world wide web – ThingsManchester is committed to creating an open network across Greater Manchester.

“We are building an open and accessible network for people to build stuff upon,” says ThingsManchester initiator Julian Tait, whose company The Garden has established much of the IoT network in Manchester so far.

“ThingsManchester is about encouraging people to help build the network by installing equipment that provides coverage for their communities. In essence, this model means that it is free at the point of use.”

Tait describes this as “a commons-based shared infrastructure that is owned by everyone who contributes,” adding that “the more people involved, the better and more resilient it is”.

The Things Network

ThingsManchester – part of the international Things Network network, founded in Amsterdam (see video above) – is made up of a mix of technologists, designers, civic activists, artists and academics.

“It is not just about technology,” says Tait, “but [also] how we can make useful stuff that solves problems and how we enable anyone who wants to participate.”

Indicative of that approach, ThingsManchester hosts a regular monthly drop-in event at The Shed. The next gathering is on Monday 23 May.

“The drop in is for sharing ideas and expertise among the community,” says Tait. “It is to encourage people to build and experiment using the ThingsManchester IoT network.”

Mirroring the open approach of the project, the subjects discussed at the drop in are decided by the people who attend.

“If people want to talk about the political, conceptual part of IoT that’s OK,” says Tait, “and if people want to code something, that’s OK too.”

The ThingsManchester May drop is on Monday 23 May 2016, 6-8pm, The Shed, Chester Street, Manchester 1. More information here