HomeChannelsNewsCisco in pole, as Newcastle prepares to pick a partner to make it the UK’s smartest city

Cisco in pole, as Newcastle prepares to pick a partner to make it the UK’s smartest city

The city of Newcastle in the UK will procure a “technological partner” after the summer to set down the infrastructure to help it develop its connectivity and sensor capabilities and make it the “UK’s leading smart city,” it has said. Cisco appears to be the early frontrunner, having recently closed out the seminal CityVerve project in Manchester with a plan to “seriously productise” its novel smart-city architecture, and having already secured work with the local authority in Newcastle on early smart-city work.

The council this week approved “bold” plans to connect its municipal infrastructure and services. The council said it wants to “lead the digital revolution and become a major player in the digital world”.

Joyce McCarty, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council said: “We’re pursuing our vision to be a pioneering city and accelerating our digital revolution. We have the foundations in place but I believe there is more we can do. We will develop a technological partnership with an organisation to help achieve our ambitions. By building stronger collaboration between business, university research and public services, we can harness the power of technology and data to better design services and make the city work better for everyone.”

The council said it will use smart technology to support the vulnerable in their homes, solve parking problems, manage the traffic congestion, improve air quality and improve council services through the use of sensors and data.

Among civic tech providers, Cisco is already working with the city council to harvest data from sensors newly deployed in the centre of town. Mosley Street in Newcastle was the first street in the world to have electric lighting, back in 1879. The same street has been connected recently with cameras and sensors fitted variously to bins, road surfaces and lampposts, and parking spaces to provide intelligence about how the city is working.

Cisco, which managed the CityVerve project in Manchester, is project lead for the Mosley Street work, providing its Kinetic for Cities platform to manage the data from the sensors. Cisco said it will “seriously productise CityVerve” after the Manchester pilot closed at the end of last month.

Alongside, UK tech firm Connexin has provided the sensors, UK lighting control company Mayflower is providing the street lighting, Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory is collecting data in real-time, and Quantela is providing advanced analytics tools and a smart artificial intelligence engine called Atlantis.

Stu Higgins, head of smart cities and IoT for Cisco in the UK and Ireland, said: “Newcastle has innovation in its DNA, and we are thrilled to be working with Newcastle City Council and our partners to create the UK’s smartest street, and to build on the pioneering innovation which took place on Mosley Street over a century ago.

“The creation of smart places through the deployment of Internet of Things solutions brings amazing possibilities to enhance the lives of people living and working in a place. It is this type of innovation which is crucial to the UK cementing itself as a global digital leader.”

Furqan Alamgir, founder and chief at Connexin, said: “Just like all those years ago when electricity began to run through our streets, connecting our cities will open up possibilities that haven’t even been imagined yet.

“No single organisation can make smart cities happen on its own. Governments, businesses, the education sector and citizens need to work together to grasp the opportunity. The sum is way greater than the individual parts. This project is a perfect demonstrator of all the parts working together.”

Through to September 9, visitors to Newcastle will be able to experience a number of applications of smart city technology at the Great Exhibition of the North, a tech showcase across Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead.

Meanwhile, Connexin has deployed a new mmWave network in Bradford, and a LoRaWAN network in Hull, both in the UK; both networks have been designed for smart-city applications.

Connexin has selected mmWave wireless fibre from connectivity specialist Siklu Communication; the pair already provide public Wi-Fi backhaul to businesses in the region.
Connexin said it wanted a wireless solution in Bradford, the fourth largest metropolitan district in England, that would perform like fibre but without the “trenching costs and problematic timeline” of most fibre deployments.

It said the city needed a duplex gigabit service with high reliability, low latency, and high scalability, which freed it from its dependence on costly leased fibre. “Smart Cities will require a network of networks to be deployed. We see the Siklu network as a key component of enabling the smart cities of the future,” said Sam Forester, head of smart cities at Connexin.

In Hull, the company has partnered with LoRaWAN platform provider Actility to deploy a low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network. Connexin said it is deploying the Hull network speculatively as an investment in essential smart-city infrastructure, “before having paying customers for it.”

It said it is pioneering a new approach to enabling smart cities. The company will offer both free and commercial services depending on use cases, customers and commercial objectives, it said.

Forster commented: “This is the infrastructure layer that smart cities have been waiting for: total coverage, indoors and outside. It will allow sensors and smart devices to be deployed at scale and for innovation in services to be enabled and driven. We are committed to this technology because we feel it is the most powerful way to build Smart City solutions at scale.”

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