The concept of a smart city is nothing new – it’s been a source of fascination in pop culture for years. From TV shows like The Jetsons in the 1960s, to early-noughties movies like Minority Report, the idea of data powering a civic movement that changes the way citizens experience cities has always been admired.
Imagining what a smart city could look like and deliver to its inhabitants is one thing. CityVerve is interested in making it a reality for the people of Manchester.
According to Gartner, smart cities will use 1.6bn connected devices this year, and the data generated by these devices, cloud applications and the Internet of Things (IoT), will provide valuable insight for developing new services and fuelling innovation.
We’re not only fascinated by making our cities smarter. Digitally transforming a city has the potential to bring real tangible benefits, not only to the local economy, but also the wider UK economy. After all, smart cities have the potential to house the very technology, platforms and services that will allow innovative companies to flourish.
Existing smart city projects from around the world have helped to inspire and inform CityVerve, however these smart cities often resembled clusters of different solutions rather than a collaborative system that works effectively together.
Never before have we seen the right minds, technologies and frameworks come together to make the complete smart city dream a reality.
Building a real-world smart city
By bringing businesses, academia and technology together, we’re looking to build a smart city concept that breaks down the disparate systems that have previously formed smart city projects. From the platform on which it will run to the inclusiveness of the programmes it will deliver, CityVerve aims to create a smart city that is genuinely collaborative and complementary.
Over the next two years, the project will operate across four key areas: Transport & Travel, Culture & Public Realm, Health & Social Care, Energy & Environment. The beauty of the final project will come from the successful execution of use-cases that cross over all of these areas.
For example, imagine a city at rush hour and there has been a traffic accident. In a smart city environment, the idea is that the information required to more immediately respond to the situation, and processes to deal with the knock-on effects, are in place to help resolve the issue quickly.
Of course, emergency services will be required on scene and can be directed via the swiftest route. Within minutes of the incident, commuters will inevitably begin to alight from buses and seek the nearest tram or train to continue their journey.
With information about where it took place and what services has been impacted, people can be directed safely and quickly to their destination with minimal impact through real-time advisory notifications via apps. If stationary traffic has the potential in that situation to affect anyone nearby with allergies or existing respiratory problems, air quality warnings can be issued to swiftly redirect foot traffic via unaffected routes.
This is just one example, but by better understanding the way in which all of these factors affect one another, it’s possible to provide solutions that help to keep the smart city’s inhabitants moving – and smiling. It isn’t just about getting people to work on time, it’s about making sure they arrive there as efficiently and in as good health as possible too.
Creating the ‘platform of platforms’
Although CityVerve will unite transport, healthcare, energy, the environment and even culture, at the centre of it all is a focus on the citizen. We’re not just talking about the people of Manchester, but city-dwellers around the world.
In order to meet their needs, we need a central platform that any city can deploy, which can support an infinite number of applications from both local authorities to independent developers.
Crucially, the identity of each city is shaped by the people that live and work there. This includes the way they behave and interact with the city and just as unique as its citizens, every city will require applications that suit its individual needs. Yet without a smart, secure platform to capture, analyse and deliver appropriate data, a truly smart city is not possible.
The idea behind CityVerve’s platform is to allow new ideas, apps and solutions to be plugged into the existing network – providing seamless and limitless opportunities for adaption and advancement.
The aim is to deliver a blueprint for a needs-led, citizen-centric view of what a city can be, that can be picked up and applied to cities all over the world.
CityVerve is an impressive example of what can happen when the best minds come together to share ideas and solve real-world challenges. I for one am excited to be involved in such a collaborative project that will be able to demonstrate just how technology and the Internet of Things can change all our lives for the better.
Picture credit: Corridor Manchester