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Bristol launches five-year Smart City Strategy


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Bristol City Council has laid out six digital foundations as part of its new Smart City Strategy.

It has revealed the details in a document that highlights the role of digital technology in a broader approach aimed at developing a low carbon and sustainable city, saying this will enhance its ability to be competitive in a global economy.

The six foundations are: focus on city challenges; world class connectivity; a city-wide innovation ecosystem; responsible innovation; innovation management; and public service innovation.

The next big step will be the development of a flexible action plan of initiatives to build on the digital foundations.

The strategy largely points towards existing initiatives in providing examples of those based on the foundations.

In the case of public service innovation these include the development of a citizen-centric approach to data management, a Bristol Digital Twin as a virtual model city with analytics and visualisation tools, and stepping up the use of AI, machine learning and predictive analytics.

Infrastructure ambition

Bristol’s connectivity ambitions are aimed at ensuring all of its communities can benefit from the local infrastructure, and involve the roll out of ultrafast public Wi-Fi, better 4G and next generation wireless technologies. The document says these will need to be multi-tenant and agnostic to supplier usage, and will provide the basis for deployment of IoT networks and increase the capability for harnessing city data and analytics.

The council has a social housing broadband pilot and is continuing to develop the Bristol Is Open testbed for new technology, along with expanding its BNET duct and fibre communications network.

Other plans include the development of a council-wide data and information strategy and the installation of smart sensors on streetlights connected to the Bristol Operations Centre on 10% of the city’s streets.

The strategy also emphasises the importance of ethical data practices, equitable use of technologies and a continued focus on digital inclusion, skills and community engagement.

Initiatives within this include developing ethics guidelines and practices, refreshing the council’s consultation strategy and toolkit, and developing a city data trust with a framework to strengthen local digital rights and give people control over their personal data.

The council also expresses an intent to seek a broad range of partners from within the city and further afield.

Holistic approach

Project manager Phil Higgins said: “The strategy takes an holistic approach to refocus our innovation to a challenge led approach – tackling the real world problems of citizens and the city – and identifies six pillars.  This approach acknowledges that smart cities need a smarter council willing to work in new ways conducive to innovation.

Image from iStock, tattywelshie

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