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Five of the UK’s most exciting smart city projects

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The latest Projecting the Future challenge paper is about smart cities, urbanisation and connectivity. The UK is full of examples of smart city projects – local governments across the country are racing to improve services and create new opportunities by taking on smart technologies. Here are some of the UK’s most exciting smart city projects taking place at the moment, how they’re approaching such complex projects, and the outcomes so far. 

  1. Manchester’s Triangulum project
    Triangulum is one of 14 European Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse Projects (SCC1). Manchester City Council led a consortium Siemens, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University to deliver the project – to transform the Oxford Road corridor to become one of the largest knowledge-driven, low carbon districts in Europe. Measurables include energy use and costs, percentage of energy from renewables, air quality, new jobs, and GVA created. 

    A cloud-based energy management platform functions as ‘a virtual power plant’, managing renewable systems and building management systems at three sites around the city: the Central Library, the Town Hall Extension for Manchester City Council, and the Alan Turing, Alan Gilbert and Ellen Wilkinson buildings at The University of Manchester. 

    This has reduced the area’s dependence on the grid. Scaled citywide the central controller could potentially save Manchester approximately 57,000t CO2 emissions per annum – the equivalent of taking 12,000 cars off the road each year. Read the exclusive report about this project here (🔒).

  2. Hull’s Smart City OS
    Hull has a little bit of an advantage when it comes to implementing smart city technologies. Its size makes it easier to implement networks and systems in a shorter space of time. This has allowed it to become the first city in the UK with full-fibre connectivity.

    It’s now pursuing a number of smart city technologies, from a streetlighting solution from Datatek to Citilogik, which monitors the movement of people. A total of 12 solutions are being implemented across the city, integrated into Smart City OS – the city-wide operating system that will make the city ‘programmable’.

    The project involves a number of phases, from installing sensors across the city, pulling all the systems together into the OS, collecting data and then creating an action plan. These phases aren’t entirely linear, with benefits realised incrementally as each system is integrated with the OS. The project timeline is just a year – that’s how quickly Hull City Council believes they can be up and running. Find out more about Hull's smart city OS in this case study.

  3. Smarter London Together
    London’s ambitious smart city plan was unveiled in 2018. It involves a lot of initiatives, from digital user services to increased connectivity to better use of data. It’s a programme that involves collaboration with a number of companies and London boroughs. It draws on the success of smaller projects, such as the MiWiFi programme in Lewisham, a digital inclusion project that lent tablets and offered digital training to the over 50s and unemployed.

    London’s 33 boroughs have been hailed as a test-bed for new ideas. Some ideas, such as Digital Greenwich, have been implemented successfully. Above all else, Smarter London Together is about scaling these initiatives up. It’s being overseen by a Smart London Board including representatives from Nesta, Future Cities Catapult, Accenture and Transport for London. It’s an immense programme, feeding into seven strategies incorporating, energy, transport, culture, health, the environment and economic development.

  4. Bristol Is Open
    Bristol Is Open, a project undertaken by Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, has gone some way towards making the city one of the smartest in the UK. The overall aim of the project is to improve the quality of life for all of Bristol’s citizens.

    The project is testing a number of technologies through pilot projects and user testing. It has resulted in the development of a City Operations Centre which integrates the management of city services. Bristol Is Open is also improving the city’s digital infrastructure, and so far its trials have resulted in a number of deliverables that help to improve understanding of how to best implement new technology.

  5. Future City Glasgow
    Glasgow’s smart city project started with £24m in funding from Innovate UK in 2013. It’s a multi-faceted programme – a state-of-the-art traffic and public safety management system, using data and video analytics to improve responses. A citizen app called My Glasgow is also being prototyped, allowing people to interact with services and report issues if they encounter them.

    Energy efficiency solutions, cycling and walking apps, and intelligent street lighting are also being piloted throughout the city. A big part of the programme is community engagement – developing personas based on its research in order to keep any developments user-focused.

Download challenge paper five: smart cities, urbanisation and connectivity

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