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Belfast to invest in tech for open spaces


Belfast City Council has launched a competition for ideas on digital technology and data to help manage parks and open spaces.

It is making up to £120,000 available in the Smart Belfast competition as part of a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) challenge to explore opportunities in smart places.

Named Amazing Spaces, Smart Places, the competition will be open to idea on how data and technology can help councils keep parks and open spaces safe and accessible to everyone.

Among its aims are to increase visitor numbers and raise positive perceptions of public spaces, with particular emphasis on reducing antisocial behaviour while protecting the privacy of people using them.

It is also looking for better ways to coordinate between different agencies to reduce management time and cost.

Possibilities include using connected devices to measure the impact of investment decisions; creating interactive experiences in the parks; and placing new technologies into existing and planned infrastructure, such as sings, lampposts and other street furniture.

Successful companies will win contracts worth up to £20,000 each over four months to develop their proposals.

Along with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice, Belfast City Council has been granted £100,000 from the SBRI fund for the competition. It has added £10,000 and may recent another £10,000 from Dublin City Council.

There may also be opportunities for the winners to run proofs of concepts in Dublin.

Potentially, there will be two phases to this competition. For the first, businesses must be able to demonstrate a working prototype that the city councils can test, with a potential route to market.

If the second goes ahead, it would build on successful first phase projects and look at how those projects could be further developed beyond Belfast and Dublin.

The competition is open for entries until 14 November through the Smart Belfast website.

SBRIs provide digital and tech based businesses with the chance to develop new business opportunities.

Image: Blue Belfast Botanic Gardens by Nicolas Raymond, CC 3.0 through flickr

Further information was added on 29 October on the publication of further details.

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