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Edinburgh adopting IoT technology to further its plans for smart places


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The city council is aiming to use Precisely’s Confirm asset management system in deploying internet of things technology, writes Andrew Waterworth, Confirm UK director at Precisely

Edinburgh skyline

The City of Edinburgh Council is planning to increase its use of internet of things (IoT) technology to further its plans as one of the UK leaders in the development of smart places.

The council had already adopted Precisely’s Confirm solution to consolidate data on the assets under its jurisdiction but is now also looking to connect smart infrastructure to Confirm using IoT connectivity – including smart waste litter bins, gully sensors and air quality sensors.

Confirm provides The City of Edinburgh with a “single source of truth” for all of its asset management – consolidating data on different asset types in one location and breaking down organisational siloes experienced through the use of multiple, disparate systems.

“Traditionally, we chose best-of-breed individual systems to support many of the individual services we were providing,” says Gareth Barwell, head of place management at The City of Edinburgh Council. “Like many councils, we invested in a road system, a tree system, etc. We did not have a single view of our overall infrastructure.”

Having a joined  up view allows the council’s place management team to have a unique understanding of the relationships between their assets and even predict where existing or future defects may be found – e.g. in places where tree roots are damaging roads or affecting drainage infrastructure.

The next asset management improvements the council will undertake involve using the new street lighting system to extend the smart infrastructure across Edinburgh. Confirm will support these plans by incorporating IoT data, working through open APIs with a vendor agnostic approach to integration with other systems.

Movement of people is a ‘top priority’

Sean Gilchrist, transport manager – asset and performance at The City of Edinburgh Council, says a great asset of the Confirm platform is that it helps the council to visualise what it is doing, partly driven through integration with Precisely’s Spectrum Spatial system, providing critical support in building its IoT infrastructure.

“Because we are shifting towards place making, spaces for people has come to the top of the agenda,” he says.

“When we do any sort of maintenance we will have to start thinking more and more about the movement of people. Things like cycling and walking will be top priority and we need to build investment strategies around that.

“We need to take a wider look at our network. It’s expensive to do this, so you have to be smart about it, planning much further in advance, and that opens up opportunities to use your internal funding better as well as getting external funding.

“Groups like Sustrans are very keen to invest with local authorities to build environments that encourage cycling and walking. To have all that in the one place will make life so much easier for us.”

Identifying RoI

Gilchrist adds that the combination of Confirm with spatial analytics will be highly important in identifying exactly where the deployment of IoT sensors are likely to be the most effective – and therefore produce the best return on investment.

“It is without doubt the way forward,” Gilchrist says. “All local authorities recognise that with IoT and enterprise management data, the more you can put into one place the more control you will have over all of it. You’ll get better value for money from your investment.”

Pitney Bowes Software and Data are now Precisely - access our case study to learn more about how Precisely’s Confirm solution has helped The City of Edinburgh Council in its smart city developments, or request a free demo here.

Image from iStock, Mario Guti

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