Cwm Idwal Visitor Centre has been an important hub for visitors for many years. Once a notorious notspot, a place where there is no Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal, it now has access to superfast broadband, as well as a LoRaWAN network with Internet of Things sensors.
Menter Môn has worked in partnership with Gwynedd Council and the Cwm Idwal Partnership, which includes Eryri National Park Authority, Natural Resources Wales and National Trust Cymru, to connect the visitor centre and the houses and businesses along this rural valley with superfast broadband. They have also set up a LoRaWAN network, which will allow Internet of Things sensors to monitor air quality, humidity, temperature and much more in the valley. The project has been supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas.
Visitors to Cwm Idwal Visitor Centre will be able to log onto the free Wi-Fi, which will allow them to access useful information, keep in touch by sending messages and making calls, and of course share the beauty of the area on social media! There are also plans to add QR codes around the centre so people can learn more whilst they explore, which wouldn’t be possible without the Wi-Fi.
There is a wealth of information available about the area on a special website created by the Cwm Idwal Partnership, which will now be easily accessible whilst visiting. It has information about the wildlife that can be found there, the history of the area, the important ecosystems found there and much more. Students from schools and universities from all across the country visit Cwm Idwal to learn, and the free Wi-Fi will be a fantastic support to their learning.
The Wi-Fi has also made a big difference to businesses in the area. The Youth Hostel Association’s Idwal Cottage is located nearby and guests are now able to keep in touch with family and friends during their stay. They can also research things to do in the local area such as finding places to eat or looking up routes on the mountains.
Whilst the Wi-Fi has helped to connect people, the superfast broadband will also allow devices to be connected. Menter Môn has installed a LoRaWAN gateway at the visitor centre which will allow ‘Internet of Things’ sensors to be installed around the site. These sensors can monitor many different things such as temperature, humidity and even if a bin is full!
New temperature sensors have already been installed on Cwm Idwal’s high cliffs. These will help to protect the National Nature Reserve’s rare plants from damage during winter months. When temperatures drop and snow accumulates on the mountains of Eryri, many mountaineers are excited at the prospect of being able to ice climb. However, despite the snow, the ground underneath is often not frozen – and using ice axes and crampons on unfrozen turf can severely damage the rare plant species that live there. Sensors placed at high altitude in the valley record the temperature of the air and ground at various depths and this information is transmitted down using the LoRaWAN gateway to the visitor centre. This information can then be communicated to climbers allowing them to make informed decisions in judging whether conditions are appropriate before they start their journey.
Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director of Menter Môn, said,
“We’re very proud that Menter Môn has been able to help the Cwm Idwal Partnership install superfast broadband in such a rural area as Cwm Idwal Visitor Centre. Not only does the Wi-Fi allow people to connect, the LoRaWAN network allows devices to connect too. Menter Môn has a very successful history with installing community Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN networks on high streets across Wales, with sensors being deployed across towns to measure anything from bin use to parking bays. We can’t wait to see what Cwm Idwal Visitor Centre does next with this exciting technology.”
Rhys Wheldon-Roberts, Cwm Idwal Partnership Officer said:
“Cwm Idwal is home to some of Wales’ rarest plant species, including arctic-alpine species such as the Snowdon Lily and Purple Saxifrage, but it also attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy the area for recreation. Having the LoRaWAN gateway at the visitor centre has allowed us to upgrade the equipment used to measure the temperature on Cwm Idwal’s high cliffs, making the data more reliable. This will help us protect the rare plants we have here but also help the climbers have a better day on the mountain.”
Molly Lovatt, Senior Access, Recreation and Partnerships Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said,
“Natural Resources Wales is happy to contribute to this project with National Trust Cymru, Eryri National Park, Gwynedd Council and Menter Môn because it’s a big help to the people who visit the area. There’s a lot of information on the Cwm Idwal website, and visitors can now connect to it to access all the information on there. This means everything is easily accessible to visitors and students when they are here. We get a lot of schools and universities visiting and there’s a lot on the website they can connect with. You can only provide so much information on a screen or on a wall panel. Having access to the internet at the visitor centre is very important.”
Adam Daniel, Head of Warden Service at Eryri National Park, said,
“We have an office at Cwm Idwal Visitor Centre for staff, but until recently they often had to work from home due to the very slow internet speeds available through the old satellite system. It was very restricting and it didn’t work all the time which limited the amount of work the partnership could do here. It also affected the ability of the business located at the kiosk in the visitor centre to operate. Now that we have a better and reliable connection, it has enabled staff to come here to work. The office as a resource has clearly increased its value.”
Jeroen Paul Verbeek, Manager at YHA Idwal Cottage, said,
“Since the superfast broadband has been installed my customers have been able to go online. The demand these days is very much for Wi-Fi, and we can finally offer this service to our guests. They can look up routes for the mountains, look for places to eat nearby or see the bus timetables, all things they couldn’t do before. They can also use it to phone home, a simple thing but wasn’t possible before because there’s no mobile signal here.”