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Manchester calls for smart innovation

Winners will receive £10,000 to help develop their solution, with budget set aside for 30 projects


Corridor Manchester connects to the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods
Corridor Manchester connects to the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods

The consortium wants to build a single platform on which smart city solutions can run and be accessed

Data will be visualised through physical artwork as well as street furniture

The second wave of use cases are already being developed

Manchester’s smart city programme, CityVerve, is inviting start-ups, universities and individuals around the UK to enter an open innovation competition, to be launched next February.


Speaking to SmartCitiesWorld, project director and head of innovation technology at Cisco UKI, Nick Chrissos, said that every two weeks, £10,000 would be given to the winner to help develop their solution for the programme.


“We will use a layer of data aggregation based on the Hypercat standard to expose the data (not private information) to those who can come up with proposals to connect the data,” he said. “We have enough budget for 30 solutions and want to make it one of the most interesting technology competitions in the UK.”


The innovation programme, which will be run by Manchester Science Park (MSP), is one of a raft of initiatives being put in place by CityVerve. Chrissos stated that its overall approach is different to other smart city projects in that it wants to build a single platform/system rather than run a number of different ones for various projects. He believes this will also help the programme remain ahead of the technological wave.


“Two years is centuries in technology terms so by the time the project ends, the use cases might already look old,” he said. “So we want to build a platform which will allow the city to put solutions on top of it and accommodate new ideas and innovation."


Cisco is the lead industrial partner in CityVerve, which is being delivered by a consortium of 21 organisations including Manchester City Council, MSP, the University of Manchester as well as BT and smaller tech companies and start-ups. It is also backed by the UK Government and Innovate UK.


It is already developing its second wave of use cases which focus on the four areas of health and social care, energy and environment, transportation and social and public. In health and social care, projects include exploring the use of GPS trackers that can be sown into the clothes of those suffering from dementia, as well as monitoring and measuring pollution in the city to help combat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


In transportation, it is looking at how bikes can be used in the logistic sector ‘for the last mile’ to reduce the number of trucks and vans on the road. It also wants to introduce wi-fi at bus stops to help inform citizens how they can travel around the city and smart parking and smart lighting are also covered in the use cases.


CityVerve has a perfect test-bed in ‘Corridor Manchester’, a microcosm of the city and an Innovation District, south of the city centre, running the length of Oxford Road from St Peter’s Square to Whitworth Park. It has around 60,000 workers, 70,000 students and more than 150 public sector buildings.


To help engage citizens, it wants to use physical artwork to help visualise the data. “We want to capture their attention. We are connecting data that has never been connected before and don’t just want to show it through a digital platform but also through street furniture.”


Chrissos added: “All solutions must make an impact and must be replicable, procurable, sustainable and scalable We don’t just want to be a demonstration but a reality”



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