Manchester was chosen out of 30 UK cities for a £10m government boost to invest in smart city technology.
With the city centre population rapidly increasing and an estimated 125,000 growth by 2025, technology leaders are looking for new ways to cater for the growing demand.
CityVerve, a team of 21 organisations led by Manchester council, Manchester Science Partnerships, and Cisco, plan to create a ‘smart city demonstrator’, with the aim to bring communities together and build a better Manchester. City Verve will start work on Oxford Road corridor.
What is a Smart City?
A smart city is an urban development vision to combine our current technology with the Internet of things (IoT), as a way to manage a city’s assets and improve the efficiency of services.
Manchester is one of the first UK cities to be chosen for the Smart City innovation project, meaning people living here will be amongst the first to see the impact it makes.
Simon Navin, programme manager, Smart Cities Practice at Ordnance Survey, said: “SmartCities are very much in their infancy and we’re currently in an interesting and exciting time of experimentation.
“We now have the ability to process big data quickly for valuable insight and location data and intelligence has never been more comprehensive, enabling new wave of technology that has the potential to help us ‘be smarter’ in the way we live, work and play in our urban environments.
“Ultimately, a city that wants to be Smart must have a clear vision of what it wants to achieve and an appreciation of the challenges it faces now and will face in the future.”
How does it work?
The project uses The Internet of Things, or ‘IoT’, to connect devices such as bus stops, lamp posts and smart phones in a way that allows them to interact with each other to get a better understanding of how we live.
For example, different bits of technology used to do their own thing and tended to have one job.
A fridge was for keeping food cold and a light switch for turning your light on, but now, with the help of advanced sensors and faster internet, we can make these devices ‘talk’ to each other and work together in ways not previously possible
Devices and objects across the Oxford Road area will be connected, so things like the healthcare you receive and the transport you travel to work in, will be joined up by technology.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, said: “With our strong heritage of innovation and as home to two leading universities, plus a flourishing science and tech sector, Manchester is the perfect home for CityVerve.
“This ambitious project can help us to create new job and business opportunities, while also delivering a more efficient public transport network, cleaner, safer streets and a greener Manchester through reduced energy consumption.”
Why do we need it?
Most of us live very busy lives – working on the move, in the office or spending time at home.
Many of us are looking for ways to be more productive and to maximise how much we can fit into every minute of each day. Nick Chrissos, head of innovation technology, Cisco UKI said: “The power of IoT is helping us to do things more easily, quickly and effectively, and ultimately help to wake up the world around us.
“We have reached an era in which everything from bus stops, medical devices, bins and parking spaces can be connected to the internet and be part of an ever-expanding network.
“Practically, it’s about transport operators enhancing the passenger experience with real time updates.
“Likewise, it’s about connected patients who monitor themselves and provide real insight to clinicians and doctors.
“The IoT can help to create deeper and more multi-functional connections between services in a way that enables Manchester to become smarter, function more efficiently, and provide an enhanced citizen and visitor experience.”
“The demonstrator will act as a test-bed of ideas to show what can be done when you apply technology in this way and also to learn what doesn’t work.
Where is Oxford Road Corridor?
The corridor testing zone is home to the Manchester Science Park and Citylabs campuses, Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Royal Northern College of Music, Whitworth Art Gallery and St Mary’s Hospital. There are also a number of bars and shops that sit in the testing zone, along with bus stops, traffic lights and cycle lanes.
When will we see some visible changes?
The first City Verve deployment was made in October last year, when Manchester Science Partnerships began connecting Citylabs 1.0 to the Internet of Things.
Now, CityVerve is receiving a constant stream of data from the heating, cooling and ventilation systems within the centre, which will make Citylabs 1.0 more efficient in terms of energy use and maintenance costs.
From then, the same thing has been done for water use in ten buildings along Oxford Road Corridor – now there’s a real-time water system monitoring solution that helps to ensure water quality.
The real-time data readings which feed into the CityVerve dashboard provides cost savings, better accuracy, and a proactive approach to tackling a widespread potential health risk.