Why the university culture in Manchester is key to making it the smartest of cities

As the CityVerve initiative gets underway, all of the partners are hugely excited to be involved. I believe that this project has the potential to be a great success: not just for the city but also on a national and international scale. I know that Manchester, with its strong history and culture of education, is the place to lead this project.

Manchester Metropolitan University has played a part in building Manchester into a multi-faceted, smart city since its inception, when it was born from the combination of multiple Mechanical Institutes in 1824. Manchester has one of the largest concentrations of students of anywhere in Europe. Working with fellow CityVerve partner, the University of Manchester, we are excited to be able to open up the great research taking place at our universities to drive the innovation behind CityVerve, and to continue to move Manchester forward.

Currently, we are working across three of the project’s four key themes, with plans to involve ourselves in healthcare as the project progresses.

Our students and academics are working with the design part of the culture brief, busy looking at how design influences public behaviour and uptake. Focus is being given to transport, exploring travel patterns, sustainable transportation and developing a green travel app. Using our expertise in sustainability, colleagues are working on energy and environment, using sensors to inform choice and develop effective ways of managing buildings and how we use them.

Fundamental to the CityVerve model is the ability to test in “real time”. Our student population, with its energy, creativity and curiosity will be a real asset. As well as developing responses under the project’s key themes, it will be the students themselves who will use and test these developments daily, providing a swift and efficient feedback loop.

I am also excited by the potential of this project based on the network of strong partners that it has united through the consortium. All within CityVerve share a common purpose to see Manchester reach its fullest potential as a smart city, and set the bar for cities across the world. Most of us have worked together before have a shared passion and commitment to bringing this vision to life.

As the global population grows, more people than ever live in cities. The time is now to improve the environment, culture, business possibility and quality of life to benefit those in our community and in other cities across the world. Our project will illuminate the benefits of Manchester for all those who live in it – students, business owners and everyone in between – and highlight the importance for all cities to get these key components right.

We want to create an environment that is recognised as the precedent for cities across the world. This summer’s global liveability survey listed Melbourne as top for the sixth year in a row (with the majority of the top ten being cities in Australia and Canada). It’s time for a change. We think Manchester should be up there at the top of that list, and I think that this project will help get us there.

Image via Sheppard Robson

October 14, 2016 in Opinion

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