Others should follow Bristol's 'smart city' lead, says Minister

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities has said that more towns and cities in the UK should follow Bristol's endeavours to create a 'smart city' to better connect and automate services.

Minister Greg ClarkSmart cities use an 'intelligent infrastructure' including remote sensors and ubiquitous wireless internet, to enhance the performance of buildings, energy consumption, healthcare and transport and others, to reduce costs and engage more effectively with citizens.

"Bristol is showing there are ways to smarter and more collaborative city services" Clark told the Sunday Times last week. "From street lighting to efficient energy use, technology is making cities more reactive and interactive. It would be great to see more towns and cities making greater use of technology to better meet citizens' needs."

Bristol used funding from the Future Cities Demonstrator competition launched by Technology Strategy Board (now called Innovate UK) in 2013 to invest in its smart city projects. Bristol was a runner up with London and Peterborough, while Glasgow took first prize.

The competition called for large-scale designs to show integration of city systems in an environmentally-sound, economical way that improves quality of life through transport, communication and waste management, among others.

The Minister's comments were published soon after Government's chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport had published a review on how Government and businesses can make best use of the 'Internet of things' (IoT). IoT describes the interconnectivity of devices, systems, and services within a web-based infrastructure to automate services and functions across several fields, for example health, agriculture, transport, emergency services and domestic appliances.

The review, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron, recommends 10 actions, including using government buying power to define best practice and commission technology that uses open standards. One of the recommendations is for Government to ensure that public bodies and regulated industries are mandated to publish machine-readable data through open application programming interfaces. Much of the data released to date is only enabled to only be human-readable.

The report mentions the Milton Keynes smart city project, also funded by Innovate UK, one of the largest such projects in the UK alongside Glasgow and Bristol. Its 'MK: Smart data hub' aims to pull together data relevant to city systems including energy and water consumption, transport data, satellite data, social and economic datasets, and crowdsourced data from social media.


Read more about the Milton Keynes smart city programme on sister publication UKAuthority.