A group of local authorities in Thames Valley Berkshire have launched a series of challenge fund calls for the development of technology to improve public services in the area.
The Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Cluster – consisting of Reading, Bracknell Forest, Wokingham, and West Berkshire Councils – published details of its second round of calls at an event for potential suppliers last week.
These are focused on using chatbots and AI to improve council highways, waste and recycling services, deployment of the internet of things (IoT), tackling climate change through schools and making Wokingham a centre for community arts and culture.
Grants of up to £100,000 are available to businesses, start-ups, academic institutions and public sector research bodies to support development and pilot phases for projects.
The first round of challenges, announced in May, deal with tackling loneliness, reducing falls among the elderly, supporting independence in travel and targeting investment to improve energy efficiency in homes.
The programme is making a total of £1.73 million available, funded by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and comes with the deployment of a long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) to support IoT deployments around the area.
Other elements include the development of an open data platform and smart city governance.
Image from iStock, donskarpo