With a bus stop only five minutes from her Dubai home, it is normally convenient for Deborah Irechukwu to travel to the city centre by public transport – except in summer.
The scorching temperatures – which can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) – make even that short walk excruciating, so when she has to run an errand the Nigerian native usually takes a taxi.
“It’s too hot outside. But today I didn’t have much (cash) on me, so I had to take the bus,” said Irechukwu, a teacher, wiping her face of sweat as she sat inside an air-conditioned bus shelter one afternoon.
“In Dubai it’s better if you’re driving.”
With more than one vehicle for every two people – according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) – Dubai has far more cars per person than other major cities like New York, Berlin and London.
This contributes to the United Arab Emirates ranking among the 10 countries with the highest per capita carbon footprints, says World Bank data.
That is something authorities are trying to change, with ambitious plans that in a few years could theoretically see Irechukwu flying to the mall or being picked up by an electrically powered, self-driving “room on wheels”.
From Singapore to Berlin, cities have been looking at new transport technologies to cut traffic and climate-warming emissions.
Having invested almost 100 billion dirhams ($27 billion) on infrastructure including metro, tram and bus lines since 2005, Dubai is now experimenting with drone taxis and driverless transport pods that it hopes will entice people to leave their cars at home.
The technological push might only partially curb Dubai’s car dependency, but it has turned the city into a laboratory of future transportation, according to transport experts.
“You could easily brand what’s happening in Dubai with those flashy trials as slightly gimmicky,” said Philipp Rode, who runs LSE Cities, a research centre at the London School of Economics.
“This is not really trying to rethink the city at a systemic scale. But then, if you look in a bit more detail, there are interesting innovations,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Bus, Taxi or Pod?
Among those innovations are autonomous pods that aim to combine the comfort of ride-hailing services like Uber with the efficiency and capacity of buses, said Rode.
The cube-shaped vehicles built in Italy by California-based firm NEXT Future Transportation can carry up to 10 people each and dock together when in motion, allowing passengers to move from one unit to the other as they travel.
The vehicles would pick up single users at home, then pool people going in the same direction inside one module, as other pods are released to collect more passengers.
“It’s like a relay race,” said inventor Tommaso Gecchelin, who co-founded the company.
With a top speed of 90 km per hour (56 miles per hour) and measuring 6.5 square metres (70 square feet) each, the pods look like “rooms on wheels”, he said in a phone interview.
They can also include bars, toilets and check-in facilities for people headed to the airport.
A fleet of 1,000 could help Dubai cut traffic congestion by up to 50%, by allowing people like Irechukwu to move around in affordable comfort all year round, Gecchelin estimated.
The company plans to start mass production by the end of next year and have at least four pods ready to ferry visitors within the Dubai 2020 Expo site, after it tested two prototypes in the city in 2018.
The pod trials come under the city’s plans to make a quarter of daily transportation self-driven by 2030, which Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority says could help significantly cut transportation costs, road accidents and pollution.
RTA director general Mattar al-Tayer said the city has also been looking into self-driving cars, “sky pods” that run on suspended rails and flying taxis.
In 2017, the city launched its bid to become the world’s first city with a drone taxi service when an unmanned two-seater drone resembling a small helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers took its maiden flight within the emirate.
Alexander Zosel, co-founder of Volocopter, the German company that built the sky cab, said 1,000 drones taking off and landing vertically from at least 30 ports across the city could move 10,000 people around per hour.
A ride in a flying cab would cost around the same as one that drives on the road, he added.
“We want to bring everybody to fly with (us),” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over the phone. But full-scale development is still at least a decade away, he said.
Al-Tayer said the city was looking to have its first flying cabs airborne “in the near future”, adding Volocopter was among a number of operators the city was in talks with.
Air taxis would cut traffic, emissions and the need for new parking space, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.
They would help Dubai in its quest to become “the smartest city in the world” and increase the share of public transport journeys to almost a quarter of the total by 2025, up from 17% today, he added.
Flying or Walking?
While autonomous cars and flying taxis might be the future of transport in Dubai, they will not work everywhere, said Rode of LSE Cities.
Some cities trying to reduce car usage might not want a proliferation of privately-owned self-driving vehicles, which risk increasing traffic while they drive around empty, looking for parking or trying to pick up their owners, he said.
“Autonomous vehicles have to be based on shared mobility … otherwise you risk replacing one inefficient mode of transport with another.”
And flying taxis could also cause undesirable side-effects, such as casting shadows all over the city and increasing wind flow and noise, Rode added.
Instead of looking at new ways to get people where they need to go, some places like Copenhagen and Singapore are trying to reduce the need for people to go anywhere at all, by bringing services like supermarkets and schools closer to their homes, he said.
But European and Asian cities have an advantage over Dubai in implementing such changes, as Dubai’s expansion over the past 40 years has centered around driving, city planning experts say.
The city of 3.3 million, according to official figures, has about the same population as Madrid, but covers an area more than five times larger.
Awash with multi-lane highways, Dubai has few comfortable pathways for people to walk along to reach malls and public transport stations.
“The challenge is always: once you build a city it is very hard to change it,” said Karim Elgendy, a sustainability associate at Dar Al-Handasah, a London-based engineering consultancy.
“It’s very hard to create new pathways, new mobility networks, because where are you going to put them?”
As Dubai hangs its hopes on futuristic tech to compensate for its driving-heavy design, some residents say all the city needs to do is make it easier for them to walk to their local metro station.
“These pilot projects are done to impress, but there is a risk they will not be implemented at a scale where they would actually become useful,” said Marco Celentano, an Italian expat who has lived in the emirate for almost a decade.
“For now, the easiest way to get around is by car,” he said.
Source: Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, editing by Jumana Farouky and Zoe Tabary for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters
Smart city projects such as Manchester’s CityVerve smart city demonstrator and Milton Keynes’s Ideation Platform often attempt to put peoples’ needs at the forefront by encouraging citizen engagement, and empower them to submit, share and collaborate on sustainability projects. Indeed, the latter won the Smart City Award in 2017. But such schemes can still tend to focus more on the flashy technology than serving people.
Richard Godfrey, Managing Director of Syncity, couldn’t agree more. Quite apart from the numerous lists of national and global smart city rankings, he argues that currently there is no such thing as an actual smart city anywhere in the world. Of course, there are some successful urban smart projects in cities as diverse as Singapore, Toronto or Nairobi, but many, he claims, don’t fully understand the use-cases and are more concerned with showcasing cutting-edge IoT technology.
Godfrey is no Luddite – his background is in digital transformation, AI, IoT and big data, and he worked for more than seven years for Peterborough City Council (Smart City of the Year 2015), first as Strategy, Infrastructure and Programme Manager, then as Assistant Director and lead of Digital City Peterborough.
His lightbulb moment, he says, was when reading about green field smart city projects, where completely new settlements are built from the bottom up with modern technology baked into them. “A smart solution is only as good as its ability to solve specific human problems,” he points out. “But how can you address problems without the people who are to have them?
“In order to make these projects more relevant and meaningful, we should first cease to have technology for a starting point and focus on the existing and unique problems of individual cities instead. The second step should be about assessing and quantifying the problem with the help of advanced technological tools, in order to identify the kind of AI, IoT or even non-technological solutions that can provide a remedy to the concrete problems that have been identified.”
Long-term projects allow time for technological investments to filter down to beneficiaries at the end of value chains.
Getting the line-up and the timeline right
In smart city projects you also need the right mix of players on the team to be successful. Normally, these teams are made up of technological experts, representatives of the local council, and maybe one or two citizens. What is missing from them is a diverse non-technological staff including urban planners, architects and even landscape architects, as well as researchers and scientists. He’d like to see technology companies employing these types of roles or at least partnering with these types of companies. It’s also paramount that experts from the public and charity sectors are also invited to the conferences, workshops and online discussions where smart city ideas are shaped.
The current length of projects is another stumbling block: the return-on-investment of smart city projects is inherently slow, and therefore two-year government-funded project cycles with big intervals between them are far from ideal. Long-term projects allow time for technological investments to filter down to beneficiaries at the end of value chains.
For example, the benefits of technological solutions improving air quality are reaped by people in the first place, whose life quality will improve through breathing in cleaner air. However, down at the end of the line it’s local healthcare facilities and the NHS who will have to spend less on the treatment of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Therefore, a kind of circular or drip-down approach is needed when assessing the RoI of smart city projects as improvements may be many years in the making.
Do the simple things first
There is no point throwing flashy state-of-the-art technology at problems which can be sorted out by simple or even non-tech solutions: putting down tactile paving slabs is a strictly non-technological way of assisting blind or partially blind people to get around in cities, for example, but it goes a long way. Equally, simple sensors and smartphones could provide a breakthrough in solving the labour shortage problem in social care once the necessary legislative changes have been made to regulate how responsibility can be shared between human workforce and technology.
Our cities are inarguably turning increasingly smart. Most of them are not the “purpose-built” kind that spring up from nowhere, and will need customised retrofitting driven by the specific needs and difficulties of their citizens. The city with the second-fastest commuting time in the UK won’t need any smart solutions that improve traffic flow, for example. It’s not enough to be smart – you also need to be clever.
To learn more about Syncity’s offerings or read Richard Godfrey’s blog visit syn-city.co.uk
Health and care in the UK faces increasing challenges, both financially and in terms of growing demand for services. For some time now, the narrative has been that there needs to be transformational change in the way in which organisations work individually and collaboratively if we are to overcome these challenges, from the needs of an ageing population to the increasing prevalence of long-term conditions.
Based in Poole, Tricuro is a joint-venture local authority trading company wholly owned by Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. Launched in July 2015, Tricuro is based on a vision of our shareholders to create an arms-length organisation, entrusting the company to continue to deliver and improve adult social services across Dorset.
Tricuro has a turnover of approximately £40 million and employs around 1,500 staff from local communities, who provide care and support to over 6,000 clients per year across 40 locations and within people’s own homes across the county of Dorset. Services include residential and nursing home provision, day services and wider community support services, and reablement and home care services. These vital services support older people, younger adults with learning and/or physical disabilities, people with mental health needs and people with dementia and challenging behaviours.
Tricuro represents a significant proportion of the total adult social care spend in Dorset and is governed by an executive shareholder group (ESG) of 10 elected councillors, who work closely with the board to agree our strategic direction. The legal and commercial interests of the councils as shareholders are considered and protected, while delivering key strategic priorities of their respective councils in the context of significant financial pressures.
Tricuro was the proud recipient of the Most Outstanding Care Provider in the UK in 2018 accolade from the Over 50s Housing Awards. Testament to the delivery of significant success under our complex governance arrangements, this award reflects the challenges we have faced in delivering £5 million in savings and efficiencies while maintaining and improving service quality and driving culture change.
Income from private trading has enabled Tricuro to invest in technology and trial innovative ways of supporting our clients and their families. Digital care planning and cloud-based analytics have enhanced our ability to provide evidence of the quality of care delivered while improving efficiency and productivity. Our introduction of virtual reality into dementia services across Dorset saw Tricuro crowned winners in the Health category of the Smart Cities UK awards in London in January 2019. This award honoured the behaviour change, education, technology and innovation efforts within the company to overcome economic and social challenges and deliver improved outcomes for people.
As a strategic partner of two local authorities in a developing Integrated care system in Dorset, Tricuro is in a unique position to facilitate transformation in social care. Working closely with our system partners, we have the opportunity to enhance our delivery of high-quality care and support, by acting as a test bed to harness the potential to integrate health and social care through technology. Our ability to create growth and development opportunities means we can explore innovative collaborations and relationships, adding value for our shareholders in an expanding digitally enabled environment.
Traditionally, efforts to drive change through digital transformation in health and care are met with barriers such as workforce challenges, budgetary constraints, cultural attitudes towards risk, and the relationships between care providers and key stakeholders. Our own journey of digital transformation has highlighted that many of these barriers can be overcome by treating digital projects as change projects, not IT projects. Effective, consistent staff engagement and resource allocation to the project are key factors, as the success or failure of any digital project comes down to people, not the software or hardware itself.
The next phase of our digital transformation journey will focus on harnessing data-driven insight for improved quality assurance and person-centred outcomes. Through reviewing our systems and understanding our challenges, we have been able to identify a way forward that can accelerate our operational oversight, automating reporting processes, and empower our teams to go beyond the expected and delivery truly outstanding care and support that improves lives and builds independence.
by Alison Waller, Managing Director, Tricuro
A fast-growing global energy and technology consultancy has developed ground-breaking new technology to help businesses monitor and manage their energy usage more effectively.
Global Procurement Group (GPG) has developed an innovative new technology which provides real-time data that helps companies determine how much energy their assets use at a given point in time. The technology has been developed by the company’s tech arm, ClearVUE Systems, and Energy Lab – based in Malta and India respectively.
The innovative technology allows businesses to accurately measure usage and proactively manage it, helping them to reduce costs and carbon, in the drive towards the UK government’s 2050 zero net economy.
ClearVUE’s Alpha.Lite energy software as a service (e-SaaS) is the first of its kind – a cloud-based, low-cost monitoring and targeting platform that requires no expensive hardware or site visits. It provides businesses with valuable insight into their energy consumption, identifying inefficiencies and helping them reduce energy costs and waste.
Alpha.PRO is a next-generation, cloud-connected monitoring and targeting system offering businesses the opportunity to live-stream energy data down to a one-second granularity, which provides the opportunity for instant action. Businesses gain a 360-degree view of their energy fundamentals, from a single circuit to multiple assets across the globe. It instantly shows them where energy efficiency can be improved and energy waste reduced, saving costs and cutting carbon emissions.
The company launched its technology at its annual conference on 4 October in Newcastle to an audience of more than 450, including colleagues, customers, business energy suppliers and global media.
Fokhrul Islam, GPG CEO and founder of Northern Gas and Power, part of GPG, said: “From talking to our customers we understand there’s a real demand for change. But the utilities sector needs not only a change of attitude, it also needs a change of technology.
“There is the opportunity to totally transform how businesses use and manage energy, as we move towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy. People want change – businesses tell us they want to become more eco-friendly, but technology has limited their ability. We know there is a real demand for change in people’s behaviours and we need to drive that through technology.”
The company’s technology is used by Alnwick Garden, a leading attraction in Northumberland with 360,000 visitors per year. The Duchess of Northumberland’s venue boasts the largest treehouse in Europe and a stunning water fountain display.
Mark Brassell, Alnwick Garden director, said: “This partnership has put the power back in our hands, giving the team access to plan ahead. It’s all about avoiding high energy costs and reducing waste. Sustainability is high on our list.”
Not only does the technology transform how businesses manage their energy portfolio, it also underpins GPG’s future growth. Founded in 2012 by Fokhrul Islam and headquartered in Gateshead, UK, Northern Gas and Power employed 75 people by 2016/17, growing to 228 the following year and currently at 550 globally. In 2018 revenues reached £29 million and are on track for £40 million by the end of 2019, with projected GPG revenues to reach £62 million by 2020.
In addition to new technology, the company has also launched two energy price comparison sites – Business Energy Quotes and Energie SuperMarché. Targeted to the UK and French markets, these are the fastest and easiest low-cost, online business energy prices comparison sites available in their respective markets. With just a business name and a postcode, customers can generate a comprehensive range of competitive tariffs from a variety of suppliers.
More than seeing smart homes as feeders of information for planners of city services, we should consider the accumulation of smart city data as a way to enhance personalised services for residents.
The internet is full of re-hashed blogs and articles about how the smart home and the smart city complement one another. Nearly all the scenarios that you will find go something like this: tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of smart homes produce zettabytes of data about the individuals dwelling within them. Massive volumes of data concerning consumption (such as electricity and water) and infrastructure use (such as roads or public transportation), and much more, are constantly streamed from the multitude of smart homes to some sort of smart-city data store where the “big data” is crunched with artificial intelligence and big-data analytics, along with other advanced technologies, to reveal interesting patterns that can guide city planners for the good of the public.
But we might be overlooking a greater power of the smart home-smart city relationship. Instead of the smart home feeding data to the city for public benefit, how about looking at it the other way around: the smart city using the big data to enable individualised services for residents of smart homes. With the digital lifestyle progressing at full stride, we shouldn’t be more than a few apps away from a municipal environment that realises a symbiosis where individual citizens are able to set up their smart homes so as to make individual choices that enhance their lifestyles based on rich smart-city data.
Smart city data enhancing the smart home
Here are a few use cases that are tantalisingly close to realisation:
Thanks to the rapid accumulation of real-time safety data, the police notice a sudden outbreak of home burglaries in a certain precinct. Wise smart-home users across the city have subscribed to a safety service whereby the police can issue an alert that not only notifies citizens in that precinct of the heightened danger, but that also instructs the surveillance and anti-burglary capabilities that surround the home to “batten down the hatches”, to make sure that smart window and door locks are engaged and watchful cameras are operating. Garage doors that were left open for convenience are automatically closed. Porch lights come on at night.
Inside the smart home, individual citizens decide what services they want to engage when a safety alert comes in. The smart city furnishes the alert and each smart home takes its own appropriate action.
Citizen Sam lives alone. As an environmentally concerned homeowner, even in the middle of winter he turns off the heat when he is away. As soon as he arrives home, Sam rushes to the thermostat to start up the central heating, which takes about 15 minutes to make his man-cave comfortable. If Sam’s schedule were regular and predictable, he could employ a simple timer to start up the heating unit 15 minutes before he gets home. However, his job often causes him to be delayed, rendering the timer useless – either it goes on too early, wasting energy, or too late, forcing Sam to engage the thermostat manually only after he arrives home.
But with a smart city notice, when Sam’s car comes within 15 minutes of his house, taking into consideration current traffic patterns, it can notify his smart hub at home when he is soon to arrive, via the app Sam has set up. Receiving the notification, the smart hub will start up the heat, ensuring Sam a warm welcome upon arrival.
Information sharing is a two-way street. Yes, each smart home and business will participate in feeding the smart city with important real-time data. But the reverse will be true as well.
Sally Jones wants to meet her friends at a bar-restaurant – that evening it’s hosting live country music, offers a menu she likes and isn’t too busy. With every bar and restaurant in town streaming its current environmental conditions, along with its menu and preferred music for the evening’s listening pleasure, to a smart city service, the solutions are there for the taking. Sally merely asks her smart assistant, “Find me a bar that I will like,” and obtains a list of the best candidates to host her evening with her friends.
While most industry thinkers are contemplating how to collect massive volumes of data from individual smart homes to feed the needs of the smart city, we might reap many more benefits if we ask what the smart city can do for the smart home.
by Amir Kotler, CEO, Veego
To find out how Veego puts an end to malfunctions in the smart home and perfects the smart-home experience, visit www.veego.io
Images by Veego
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs has provided more details on the technology it intends to use to develop a futuristic smart city in Toronto, which includesself-driving garbage cans and infra-red sensors to track foot traffic in stores, a document released by the company on Friday said.
Sidewalk, owned by the parent company of Google, released a 483-page document in response to criticism from an arm of the government-mandated body developing the project that called the initial proposal “frustratingly abstract.”
Waterfront Toronto, the agency in charge of developing the waterfront area of Canada’s biggest city, gave a tentative approval to the project two weeks ago after Sidewalk agreed to walk back many of its original proposals, including putting all data collected into an Urban Data Trust, which critics said would not be subject to adequate oversight.
The 12-acre project, close to Toronto’s central business district, would feature adaptive street design and responsive sounds to help blind people find their way around, the document showed.
Sidewalk would implement a pay-as-you-throw system of garbage deposition, with volume sensors installed on each bin to indicate when it should empty itself, and optical sensors that would allow each self-driving bin to navigate through the public realm.
It said the majority of the services it is proposing have already been partially or fully implemented in an existing project in various cities around the world.
Sidewalk said the objective of this list is to “not only describe the ‘what’ and the ‘why,’ but also the ‘how’ and ‘who’ for each service.
“It also can help provide a clear, single source for what data collection activities are proposed — and importantly, what activities are not.”
Sidewalk has said it will not sell data collected to third parties, or use it for advertising purposes. It will also not share personal information – one of four categories of data it defines – with third parties, including other Alphabet-owned companies, without explicit consent.
It will not use facial recognition, and 60% of services will not generate personal information.
Sidewalk’s plan to monitor residents include tracking noise level in apartments to ensure tenants are adhering to an acceptable nuisance threshold, the document showed.
Waterfront Toronto cautioned that it is still reading through Sidewalk’s document but said it was pleased to receive further details.
“Having worked with Sidewalk Labs to reach a realignment on important digital issues, we are eager to see how these discussions have been reflected,” Kristina Verner, Waterfront’s vice president of innovation, sustainability and prosperity, said in an emailed statement.
The project will now go through a formal evaluation and further public consultation before a final vote on Mar 31, 2020, by Waterfront Toronto’s board of directors.
Source: by Moira Warburton, editing by Denny Thomas and Steve Orlofsky for Thomson Reuters
Greater Manchester, with the Original Modern city Manchester at its heart, is leading a new era of digital transformation that will leave no-one behind.
You may know Greater Manchester for the success of its football teams and its role as the cradle of the first Industrial Revolution. It’s also the place where the world’s first stored-programme computer was invented.
In 2018 Greater Manchester was recognised as one of the top 50 most innovative cities globally, where hard work, energy and collaboration bring ideas to life. We do things differently here, and no better is this demonstrated than with the exponential growth of our digital economy.
Today, Greater Manchester is home to a fast-paced, fast-growing £5 billion digital ecosystem. Communities, businesses, academia and public services work together to create opportunity, innovate and invent, and growth benefits everybody. We like to talk about being the smartest city, and one that is doing digital differently – ensuring that the opportunities unlocked by new technology aren’t about economic impact alone.
While attracting the inward investment that will lead to job creation is important, our vision for digital is an enabling force that unlocks better health and social mobility. We are harnessing the power of technology to improve lives, using the opportunities it presents us with to help build a society where people are happier and more fulfilled.
Quite simply we want to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and get old.
Of course, commerce has its place at the heart of a digital ecosystem and we are building on the success of the biggest digital cluster outside London, with more than 10,000 digital and creative businesses employing more than 85,000 people. We’re already home to the BBC, TalkTalk, Raytheon, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Social Chain, boohoo and Reason Digital.
With innovation in Manchester’s DNA, digital success to date has been part due to a pipeline of talent from four top universities, world-class infrastructure and connectivity and a rich history of firsts. Talented people have always wanted to come here to work, attracted also by the city-region’s vibrant cultural scene. Indeed, Greater Manchester retains more of its graduates than any other city in the UK outside London.
What makes Greater Manchester unique is its collaborative ecosystem of digital start-ups and SMEs innovating on behalf of large businesses, supported by academics, with public sector organisations including Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) joining the dots between the component parts of our economy. Our role at GMCA is an enabling one – creating exactly the right environment for success in the digital space.
GM Cyber is a perfect example. The UK’s fastest growing cyber ecosystem brings together more than 30 organisations across the public and private sectors, and academia, to make Greater Manchester an emerging global centre of expertise for digital security research and innovation. This year we welcome an exciting new office for the government’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, proof that this approach is attracting new investment.
Our blueprint will detail how we want to empower people, enable innovative public services, ensure that all businesses are digitally enabled, encourage the creation of new digital businesses, and support Manchester in becoming a global digital influencer.
We want our citizens’ lives to be bettered, and for them to be empowered by the myriad opportunities a digitally fuelled city-region provides, including better health and a rich cultural offer.
Alongside this, businesses here will have the digital means and culture to fuel productivity, conscientious innovation, entrepreneurism and new industries.
We’re investing heavily in digital infrastructure, connectivity and transport and we offer a breadth and depth of expertise across digital and creative services, e-commerce, technology hardware and software.
We’re creating a digital place where innovators from across the globe want to tap into and a place where businesses already here can thrive.
Our ambition is for Greater Manchester be a top five European digital city-region, recognised globally for its digital innovation. We’re well on the way to achieving that goal.
We will soon publish our refreshed Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint. This document will set out a three-year approach towards that vision, and will be reviewed regularly in line with the pace of digital change. Our blueprint will detail how we want to empower people, enable innovative public services, ensure that all businesses are digitally enabled, encourage the creation of new digital businesses, and support Manchester in becoming a global digital influencer.
Get in touch if you’d like to receive a copy of the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint and start a conversation about partnering with a city-region that’s determined to do digital differently.
by Councillor Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Public Sector Digital Lead
The effects of digital transformation are already all around us in our everyday lives, and cities are embracing the benefits. New technologies and online tools allow us to introduce e-governance, improve public services and reduce carbon emissions to create more liveable and sustainable cities.
Yet, as we embrace ever smarter cities, we need to be increasingly aware of how we use, manage and store data, and to keep in mind that at the heart of any smart city lies its citizens. Without a doubt, data should be regarded as the backbone of the smarter cities revolution. It is only by harnessing its potential that we can reveal patterns and behaviours that can inform better policy making. As authorities dedicated to the public interest, cities want to use data in a socially responsible way.
This comes with obvious risks and tensions, however. Principle among these is ensuring that citizens’ data is anonymised and not traceable to an individual. Another top priority means that people should have access to use, manage and control any datasets that they generate and are then used by others.
At EUROCITIES, the network of major European cities, we’ve done a lot of work this year with pioneering cities such as Edinburgh, Ghent and Zaragoza to create a set of 10 principles on the responsible use of citizens’ data. Citizens’ data includes both personal and non-personal data, which can be aggregated and anonymised to maintain personal privacy. Our principles recognise that data generated by citizens in this way is a valuable public asset and offer a set of guidelines for local administrations to try to manage these data better and put them into practice in their smart city projects. This includes putting in mechanisms and practices to give people better control over their data.
Many cities, including several EUROCITIES member cities, are already going above and beyond in this area.
Citizen data can be used to have a real public value, generating benefits for citizens and society as a whole. Bordeaux is monitoring tourist behaviour in its metropolitan area by analysing social media data from, for example, TripAdvisor, Instagram and Flickr, where tourists leave a digital trace through photographs and posts. Once anonymously processed and analysed, this data reveals the area’s attractiveness and enables the development of cultural and nightlife activities tailored to tourist interests and needs. This data also allows for the development of public policies and investments in culture and tourism.
The city of Eindhoven is working with an electric car sharing firm to gain access to the company’s data on the use of shared cars within the city. From this anonymised data, Eindhoven will learn about the number of vehicles involved, timeframes and the areas of greatest use. This agreement enables Eindhoven to analyse how shared mobility solutions are developing, where electrical charging stations and parking facilities are needed and where mobility innovations are lacking. This allows the city to improve smart mobility hubs to stimulate the use of shared cars.
The potential of a well-managed digital transformation, where we handle people’s data in a responsible way and for the benefit of all, can have a long-lasting impact on the ability of cities to drive economic and social development, without negatively affecting our environment.
Barcelona has worked with students between 14 and 16 years old to analyse data available through the Barcelona open data website, to develop apps using open-source programmes, as well as visual and graphic representations of their findings. The students’ findings are being used by local politicians as well as developers to create new apps and take new decisions to improve services for a more liveable and sustainable city.
Disruptive technologies such as the IoT and AI also have an important role to play in unlocking the potential of local administrations to offer better public services. However, rather than focusing only on the data produced, we advocate for interoperable platforms, preferably built with open source technologies, that make it easier for more actors, especially local actors, to get in on the game.
The Decode project, which is being piloted in Amsterdam and Barcelona, aims to give back control of data to citizens. Its open-source tools respect privacy and rights, and are decentralised so that people retain their personal data in a wallet but anonymised data is available for use by innovators, start-ups, NGOs, cooperatives and local communities to build apps and services that respond to their needs and those of the wider community.
We hope that EUROCITIES’ data principles will serve not only as inspiration for other cities, but also for companies involved in developing smart city solutions and perhaps even for a European-level framework. The potential of a well-managed digital transformation, where we handle people’s data in a responsible way and for the benefit of all, can have a long-lasting impact on the ability of cities to drive economic and social development, without negatively affecting our environment. With cities leading the way, a smarter future is in sight.
by Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General, EUROCITIES
EUROCITIES is the political platform for major European cities. We network the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and more than 40 partner cities that between them govern some 130 million citizens across 39 countries. For more information, click. here.
Participating cities share first results from the pioneering five-year future smart cities initiative as the project draws to a close, The €30 million award-winning Triangulum project is drawing to a close as the participating cities in the pioneering project begin to share the first results from the five-year long Future Smart Cities programme.
Triangulum is one of 14 European Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse Projects (SCC1) funded by the European Union’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020. Since inception in February 2015, Triangulum has followed the journeys of three “lighthouse” cities: Manchester (UK), Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Stavanger (Norway), as each city implemented and tested innovative smart solutions in bids to create more sustainable urban environments. Twenty-two partners from industry, research and government have steered and developed numerous mobility, energy, ICT and business improvement projects. Simultaneously, three “follower” cities – Leipzig (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic) and Sabadell (Spain), and an additional “observer” city, Tianjin (China) have shadowed developments, replicating the most successful concepts and solutions as Triangulum evolved.
In the UK, Manchester looked at the key issues of ICT, mobility and energy. Manchester City Council – the lead organisation of Triangulum in Manchester – together with The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, partnered with Siemens to investigate how to balance energy consumption and demand, reduce costs and carbon emissions, and increase the use of renewable energy along the city’s Oxford Road Corridor.
In 2019 Siemens upgraded the Building Energy Management System (BEMS) at Manchester Art Gallery to create a more stable indoor climate within the 200-year old listed building. The gallery houses priceless artefacts and artworks, and the control of temperature and humidity are vital to their care and conservation, as well as that of the Grade I-listed building itself. The replacement BEMS used a demand-side response operation that activated heating, cooling and humidity on a needs-basis, while predictive analytics were used to return energy sources back onstream when required.
Siemens has also been working with Manchester Metropolitan University on its distributed energy system at the university’s Birley Campus, which includes a 400kWh lithium-ion battery that integrates with new solar panels installed on the roof. Together with the panels and the existing Combined Heat Power (CHP), the system can supply power to 900 student rooms and a large academic building. All these technologies are controlled by a Siemens microgrid controller, which chooses the best energy source to use and decides whether the battery should store or release energy.
A central cloud-based energy management platform effectively functions as a virtual power plant, managing the renewable loads in tandem with the BMS located at three sites around the city: the Central Library and Town Hall Extension for Manchester City Council, and the Alan Turing, Alan Gilbert and Ellen Wilkinson buildings at The University of Manchester. The controller is integrated with the BMS systems, switching non-critical assets such as heating and cooling on and off in response to demand on the grid to maximise energy efficiency, and compensating for different weather conditions or changing populations in any of the buildings. The solution optimised energy consumption, reduced CO2 and lessened the area’s dependence on the grid. Scaled city-wide, the central controller could potentially save Manchester approximately 57,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum – the same as taking 12,000 cars off the road each year.
The findings from the Manchester pilot will be used to develop smart city quarters in other cities around the world. With 68 per cent of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, devising sustainable urbanisation solutions will be key to managing future growth and development.
On the conclusion of Triangulum and the completed energy-related work, Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK said: “We are immensely proud to have participated in Manchester’s smart city vision and have learned and demonstrated, in equal measures, that with the right blend of investment, technologies, governance and citizen engagement, cities can evolve to be eco-efficient and fit for the future. Triangulum has shown a blueprint for low-carbon, cost-efficient smart cities. Manchester and Siemens have proved it is achievable, repeatable and scalable. Now to meet the carbon neutrality targets set by many cities around the world – these projects need to be rolled out at city and regional scale to have a significant impact on energy consumption and carbon emissions.”
Manchester is now one of the leading cities for Smart City technologies, using the expertise shared among partners to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Martine Tommis, Manchester Triangulum Coordinator at Manchester City Council, added: “Working with Siemens as part of the Triangulum project has been a really exciting contribution to supporting our journey to meet our ambitious target of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2038. It is essential to innovate and create a much smarter, more efficient city, which is why we will continue to support the development of new energy systems and eliminate the need to use fossil fuels. The project is a tribute to what partnerships can achieve for our city.”
Amanda Wallace, Deputy Director of Manchester Art Gallery, said: “We take climate breakdown very seriously, and safeguarding Manchester’s world-class art collection, while remaining true to our commitment to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint, is a top priority for us. Working with Siemens, and being part of the Triangulum project, has been a rewarding and productive process that we hope will take us one large step closer to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation.”
Professor James Evans, Professor of Geography & Manchester Urban Institute Smart City Lead at The University of Manchester, said: “Working with Siemens has really established the potential benefits of moving to a smarter and more sustainable urban energy paradigm in Manchester, especially the importance of sharing energy and data across different organisations.”
Professor Bamidele Adebisi, Smart City lead at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “Manchester is now one of the leading cities for Smart City technologies, using the expertise shared among partners to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. The technology has helped us to boost green energy solutions, and we can effectively balance energy demand, storage and usage, creating a more sustainable Oxford Road Corridor.”
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, has committed to a carbon-neutral future by 2038. Manchester City Council, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Siemens won Public Building Energy Project Of The Year at the 2018 Energy Awards for the valuable work achieved under Triangulum.
by Justin Kelly, Head of Business Development & Communications, Siemens plc
Smart City Expo World Congress (Barcelona) discusses the role cities play in solving the greatest global challenges.
With increasing environmental footprints, growing urban populations and resource consumption forecasts, there is a strong argument that sustainable cities may be the best and possibly only opportunity to tackle today’s critical challenges.
Smart solutions can be a key part of this. The smart city has turned from concept to reality, as cities and companies move from small proof-of-concept projects to smart implementation at scale. New governance models and new approaches to equity and circular economies have also emerged, along with IoT, artificial intelligence, drones, self-driving cars and new forms of micromobility. New ways of processing and distributing information, such as blockchain and IOTA, have also come into the picture. Technology is and will be the backbone of smart cities, but the approach has shifted to a more complex vision, where the citizen is at the centre of everything, and the decision-making process is no longer top-down.
Cities have become socio-economic and political actors on both national and global stages, and have a major impact on the development of nations. Six hundred top cities represent 60 per cent of worldwide GDP, while the world expects to have 43 megacities (cities with more than 10 million people) by 2029. So we need to keep on exploring new paths, reinventing places and scenarios, drawing new maps of our imagination, as we know there’s no one-size-fits-all formula and we still have the opportunity to make things happen just the way we need them to be.
Smart City Expo World Congress is the annual meeting point for worldwide cities. For three days, Barcelona becomes the global hub where the city of tomorrow is realised. Leaders from the most innovative cities and organisations will come together to reveal the latest innovations addressing the biggest challenges cities face today: digital disruption, sustainability, clean and efficient mobility, open governance, and inclusive and collaborative solutions.
by Smart City Expo World Congress
Industry players, policy makers, entrepreneurs and academia from around the globe will join forces to empower cities, open new paths for international collaboration, and collectivise urban innovation. In 2020, Smart City Expo World Congress will celebrate its 10th anniversary (November 17-19), and something big is coming up. Stay tuned to smartcityexpo.com.
Daimler has taken a “reality check” on self-driving “robotaxis”, acknowledging that making them safe is proving harder than first thought amid questions over their future earnings potential.
Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius told journalists on Thursday
Daimler would “rightsize” its spending level on robotaxis and that self-driving technology would more likely be applied to commercial vehicles for freight companies on long haul routes.
Carmakers raced to develop self-driving vehicles after Google presented a prototype car in 2012, leading Daimler to develop an autonomous Mercedes.
The idea of fleets of robotaxis picking up and ferrying customers around cities gained traction, driven by the stellar growth of ride services such as Uber and of delivery services firms.
However, costs and regulatory hurdles have spiralled, leading to a reassessment of the business potential.
“There has been a reality check setting in here,” Kaellenius said.
Ensuring that self-driving cars are 100% safe in crowded urban areas is proving to be a bigger challenge than engineers had assumed a few years ago, he said.
Even if Daimler is able to make robotaxis safe, the benefits of entering the crowded ride-hailing business with self-driving cars remain unclear, he added.
“The full scale deployment would tie up a lot of capital with some uncertainties around the earnings potential,” he said.
“At this juncture we said to be the first one, does not make sense.”
Daimler has already sought a development alliance with BMW for semi-autonomous vehicle technology and it has another project with supplier Robert Bosch to perfect technology for fully driverless cars.
Source: by Edward Taylor, editing by Riham Alkousaa and Alexandra Hudson for Reuters Connect