This is CityVerve – for a smarter city

What began in August 2015 with a call from Innovate UK for smart city demonstration proposals is now ready to take its first, ground-breaking steps.

Dame Nancy Rothwell has already outlined why Manchester, with its history of innovation and radical attitudes, is the ideal location for such an experiment. Andrew Carr, of Digital Catapult, has shown how CityVerve can grow beyond the boundaries of this North Western city.

It’s my pleasure, leading the team driving the technological innovation, to tell you what CityVerve is – and what it can do for you.

CityVerve is taking a new, all-inclusive approach to demonstrating the potential of smart cities. We’re honing in on genuine societal issues and city management challenges to ensure that what we create is relevant to the people set to benefit from it most: the citizens.

The key to CityVerve is that previously separate sectors, such as transport and healthcare, will be able to collaborate and provide mutually beneficial services, joined up in a way that’s never been realised before. To achieve this, we’re building a world-first ‘platform of platforms’ – a technology layer that will create a secure catalogue of data that can unite applications to positively enhance city-life.

We will spend the next two years using this platform to develop dozens of use cases, focusing on four key citizen-centric areas:

  • Transport & Travel
  • Culture & Public Realm
  • Health & Social Care
  • Energy & Environment

Healthcare is dependent on transport in obvious ways such as moving doctors and patients around a city, but the effects of that movement on air pollution (and so, the environment and people’s respiratory wellbeing), as well as the impacts on city planning and use of public space are perhaps more easily overlooked.

There’s so much more too. From interactive bus stops that provide location-specific information for passengers, to dynamic street lighting to cut energy costs and create safe public community areas. We’ll also look to address chronic condition management, using smart inhalers and wearable sensors, to monitor patients with acute illnesses and relieve strain on public health services.

Our goal is to create a smarter city – improving on previous interesting but siloed attempts by truly connecting these four key sectors like never before. And it’s being built on an open innovation platform to encourage community involvement.

Manchester is a city known for its iconic looks, and we’re not aiming to change that. In fact, the days of imagining a smart city as a gleaming ‘technopolis’ are over. Today, we’re matching Manchester’s style with futuristic substance.

Over the course of the next two years, the city will undergo an unprecedented but often unseen transformation, creating a safer, more prosperous, less congested, healthier and – we hope! – happier environment.

But all of this is just the beginning. CityVerve is for everyone – its success will be driven by contributions from not only multinational partners, such as Cisco, BT and Siemens, but also from local communities, exciting, innovative small businesses and developers. We believe CityVerve will serve as a blueprint for future smart cities around the world.

So if you have an idea about how technology can tackle the challenges of living in a city, then we want to hear it. Get involved, and let’s build it together.

Picture Credit: Visualisation of Manchester Corridor courtesy of Ordnance Survey

June 26, 2016 in Opinion

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