Manchester chosen as UK’s IoT smart city demonstrator

Manchester has won a £10 million UK government competition to become a showcase city for Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

The CityVerve project will demonstrate applications of IoT technologies and services in four key areas: healthcare, transport, energy & environment and culture & community. According to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, which announced the funding, CityVerve will “demonstrate a smart city at scale, aiming to provide a replicable model for other cities in the UK and beyond”.

The competition was part of a wider £40 million government investment in the IoT announced in March 2015.

Commenting on the benefits that the project will bring to Manchester, Sir Richard Leese of Manchester City Council said: “I’m delighted that Manchester has been selected as the UK demonstrator city to test and demonstrate how the imaginative use of smart technology can make a real positive difference to our people and businesses. The lessons learned from this project should benefit the country as a whole.

“The pioneering work Manchester is doing on devolution, finding innovative ways to respond to local needs and priorities, makes us the perfect testbed for this work. 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.”

As part of the project, CityVerve will:Set up a ‘biometric sensor network’ to help improve responses to patients’ conditions and improve how local healthcare services work.Install a network of sensors in parks and along commuter and school routes to track the progress of individuals and teams competing against each other for physical activity and fun.Add location-based services, sensors/beacons, mobile apps and intelligent digital signage to bus stops. People will be able to check in to their bus stop and let bus operators know they are waiting for their service.Roll out smart lighting and connected street lighting, which city officials hope will reduce car use by making alternative forms of transport more attractive and safe.Introduce IoT-enabled bicycles as part of a crowd-sourced and maintained, secure bike sharing service. The initiative will also include ‘e-cargo’ bikes to make ‘last-mile’ deliveries.Use street furniture and connectivity infrastructure such as lamp posts and street cabinets to monitor air quality at different heights and locations. This information will be passed to people with health conditions and made generally available to support walking options and routes.

Andy Chew, managing director of Innovation for CityVerve partner Cisco Systems UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to build the UK’s first IoT Smart City demonstrator in Manchester. There is a huge opportunity for UK tech companies to lead the IoT revolution. This consortium brings together the best of Manchester and the North’s IoT tech talent. Combined with Cisco’s industry-leading technologies and global presence, there is a powerful consortium that will establish Manchester as the Smart City, and open up digitisation opportunities for UK companies across the world.”

Mike Blackburn, chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Science and innovation is key to Manchester’s economic future. This project will enable us to be an example for the rest of the country, showing how new technology can aid the delivery of both business growth and public services.”

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