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Location matters in Manchester CityVerve project

21/07/16

News feature: Mapping data will provide the glue for several aspects of Manchester’s smart place initiative, writes Ordnance Survey’s project manager Simon Navin

July saw the official launch of CityVerve, the UK’s demonstrator project in Manchester for large scale deployment of internet of things (IoT) technology.

Ordnance Survey is part of a consortium of more than 20 public and private sector organisations, ranging from SMEs to large global corporates, that over the next two years will design and deliver a series of citizen focused solutions around the themes of transport, energy, health and culture, using IoT sensor and collaborative platform technology.

Manchester_University_arialAfter six months of governance negotiations, the project is now live and everyone is raring to go. Our role is to provide the geospatial framework and location expertise upon which solutions may be based.

The project will be a challenge to our existing content and working methods, as well as providing us with essential insight into what the content of the future may look like and how it may need to be delivered and shared. We'll learn a lot from working with experts in data presentation, platform development, hardware deployment and key sector expertise.

The first three months of the project will focus on the more detailed requirements of the use cases in each theme. This will help us understand the type of existing content each use case needs access to, and the gaps we need to fill.

Street furniture value

For example, it is likely that we will need to provide accurate location and attribution data for street-side furniture, such as streetlamps and bus stops; and infrastructure to support use cases around way-finding and cycling/road safety. This could require ground based capture, extraction of features from vehicle based surveying, using remote sensed aerial imagery to identify features, or collaborating with third party data suppliers and owners to validate and integrate that content with our own.

There will also need to be internal and consortium conversations about how that content will be delivered – the project will use the IoT protocol HyperCat as a data brokerage service – so more traditional data delivery methods will be a thing of the past. HyperCat acts as a data hub that organises data in a simple way that applications can search autonomously without human intervention.

We haven’t been idle throughout the governance process however, carrying out aerial imagery capture in the spring, and preparing initial point cloud data from the photogrammetry ahead of exploring future 3D city model content for use in the project. If you haven’t come across it before, a point cloud is a large collection of points acquired by 3D laser scanners or other technologies to create 3D representations of existing structures.

Asset identification

Additionally, we’ve worked with the consortium to start to develop a list of street-side assets (some 150 features, with attribution) and carried out a ground based trial over a small 4 ha area that identified nearly 900 of these objects.

Capturing accurately located objects in the urban environment that the project area forms part of will be a challenge, but this just spurs us on to learn, try new things and plan for the future.

I believe the key challenges over the coming weeks and months will be understanding how our content can be shared and accessed using the methods the project proposes, as well as finding ways to capture the new content successfully.

I'm looking forward to us working collaboratively to agree solutions, simplifying the challenges through incisive behaviour and adding value to the business by focusing on delivering high quality content and service.

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