UK government launches smart city technology competition

Government funding of up to £10 million has been set aside for a single collaborative research and development project that demonstrates the capability of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a city region.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Innovate UK are inviting cities and businesses across the UK to bid for the funding. Announcing the competition last week, they said that the IOT can benefit citizens by offering environmental improvements, economic opportunities, and more efficient and effective delivery of services such as transport, healthcare and energy.

The funding is part of a £40 million IoT investment announced in the March 2015 Budget.

Projects entered in the competition must be led by a local authority or local enterprise partnership (or an equivalent body outside England) and should also involve several businesses.

Commenting on the launch of the contest, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives. The UK technology sector is renowned for its creativity and pioneering research and development. This competition will be instrumental in discovering new connections between city services and their users, and identifying many more advantages that the Internet of Things could offer.

IoT is a major area of growth and will have a transformative effect on society — a recent report by Arup estimates that the global value of the IoT sector will exceed £255 billion a year by 2020. Cities can use IoT to improve services for their citizens, increase quality of life and make better-informed decisions more quickly. The success of cities will depend on them working in new ways with new partners.

IoT projects already launched in UK cities include:

Measuring passenger journeys and providing location-based services to help speed up journeys and enhance passenger experiences across various forms of transport. Data collection from traffic and road sensors to help ease congestion and reduce emissions within the city. Smart lighting and sensing, which allows a city to gather and share information on footfall, air quality and noise pollution levels.

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