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Manchester wins smart city investment



CityVerve project takes £10 million competition prize to support trials of internet of things technology

A project based in Manchester has won a £10 million prize from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Innovate UK to develop internet of things (IoT) technology for city services.

Named the CityVerve Project, it is led by the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and includes plans for monitors at bus stops to let operators know when people are waiting, and a network of sensors in parks and on commuter routes to encourage more physical exercise.

It came out top from 22 entries involving 34 cities across the UK and a shortlist of six. The judges said it was selected because of its ambition, scale, coordination across the public and private sector and potential for success.

Service areas

The project’s focus will be on demonstrating applications of the IoT in four service areas: healthcare, transport, energy and environment, and culture and community.

Individual elements will include “talkative bus stops”, involving the provision of sensors, beacons, mobile apps and intelligent digital signage, enabling commuters to check in to a specific stop to let bus operators know they are waiting.

A bike sharing scheme will make use of IoT technology to monitor the movement of bikes, supporting a move to make Manchester’s Oxford Road Corridor a bus and bike only route.

Another plan is for air quality monitors to be attached to street furniture to provide information on different parts of the city to people with health conditions, advising them on the best walking routes.

Demonstrator city

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said it would effectively make Manchester a demonstrator city for the use of smart technology, and provide lessons for the whole country.

"The pioneering work Manchester is doing on devolution, finding innovative ways to respond to local needs and priorities, makes us the perfect test bed for this work,” he said. “Our plans are firmly focused on creating the conditions for economic growth and helping connect people with the opportunities created - whether that's helping them to monitor their own health to help avoid preventable illness or giving them improving transport information to help them move around the city more easily.”

The award is part of a £40 million investment by the government into the IoT up to 2018, with the aim of making the UK a leader in the relevant technologies.

The data generated by the project will be made available for research and innovation by other organisations. The project team plans to make use of new technical models for hyper-scalable cloud services, real time data sharing, and interoperability and integration of the network, platform and cloud technologies.

Picture by Daniel Nisbet, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons





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