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Exeter City Futures lays smart place plans



Analytics and open data feature in ambitions to control energy consumption and cut congestion in the city

A community interest company in Exeter is planning a series of an initiatives that take in analytics and the use of open data in an effort to reduce energy consumption in the city.

Exeter City Futures, a partnership between investment company Oxygen House and Exeter City Council that was launched in January, is running an innovation programme to respond to a number of challenges around traffic congestion, pollution and public health.

Deborah Hallet (pictured), a non-executive director of the organisation, told techUK’s Foundation of Smart Cities conference that one of the first steps is a competition named Exeter List, which will contribute to an accelerator programme.

It involves an open call for participation and is aimed at to identifying some solutions that could be widely adaptable for reducing energy consumption and congestion.

Other plans include the establishing of an open data platform for the city, with the aim of creating a community of data literate people who become engaged in the effort.

“Exeter is one of the most analytical cities in the UK as a result of having significant employment in the public sector, the Met Office and research in the University of Exeter, where we hope to establish an Institute of Urban Analytics,” Hallet said.

Energy independence

The long term aim of the programme is to help Exeter reach energy independence and zero congestion by 2025. The city has specific problems with a high proportion of retired people and heavy car use by commuters from the surrounding region.

“We are basing our investment on three things,” she said. “We think that analytics, the shift of capital and strong leadership will create the kind of changes we need.

“We are a hypothesis led organisation; before we lay down any type of solution we want to have tested the hypothesis to death.”

She added that other organisations are set to join the partnership, including Devon County Council, the University of Exeter, NHS Devon, the Heart of the South-West Local Enterprise Partnership and the Met Office. The latter is based in the city and its weather data could help to influence people’s behaviour in their use of transport and energy.

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