Cambridge is set be at the center of a leading ‘smart city region’, which will combine the UK city’s academic and business knowledgebase to speed up ‘smart’ solutions to traffic congestion, air quality, public transport, and other urban challenges.
The work of the Smart Cambridge program is being scaled up to explore how the latest data and digital technology can be used to transform the way people live, work and travel in the region and beyond. The rapidly evolving program has recently been allocated £1.6m (US$2m) by Greater Cambridge City Deal over the next three years, as part of its investment plans to improve the transport infrastructure and promote economic growth in and around the city. Earlier this week, leading business, academic, local government, smart city and technology representatives from across the region attended the program’s prestigious launch event, held at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, to hear about pioneering ‘smart’ projects in the pipeline.
Smart Cambridge has launched the first phase of the cutting-edge Intelligent City Platform (iCP) that it has developed with the University of Cambridge, taking real-time data from an array of sensors across the city to support myriad smart solutions.
A new LoRa (Low-power long-Range) network has also been set up with the university to transfer data flowing from the sensors to the data hub, so that it can be analyzed and visualized to plan smart solutions, including making transport systems more reliable and easier to use. The platform is among the first to collate real-time data, which will allow citizens, third party developers and commercial partners to ‘test bed’ innovative applications including the new Cambridge mobile travel app.
A preview of the new MotionMap mobile travel app showed how the real-time data will be used to more accurately predict bus times, to help improve people’s journeys and encourage them to use more sustainable methods of transport. The app is being developed by local technology company Building Intellect, and will be launched this summer as part of a series of data-sharing events to involve residents and businesses in developing smart solutions for the city. Tech-based small and medium sized businesses in Cambridge are also being challenged to drive forward Internet of Things (IoT) innovation during 2017 to help find real-world solutions to key city challenges through the IoTUKBoost program.
The next phase of the Smart Cambridge program will build upon the studies already underway to investigate intelligent mobility, including integrated ticketing and online payments, trialing driverless vehicles, and the feasibility of an AVRT (advanced very rapid transit) system for Cambridge and surrounding areas.
Francis Burkitt, vice chair of the Greater Cambridge City Deal board, who is championing a technological revolution in the city’s transportation systems, noted, “We have a unique opportunity to harness the brainpower and business might of Greater Cambridge to find innovative solutions to challenges faced by our region. That’s why taking a collaborative approach is the best way forward for Smart Cambridge, and could lead the way forward for other smart cities.”