Bid to make Bristol UK’s most advanced digital city

December 7, 2012

Bristol is in the running for £24m Government funding to make it the UK’s most-advanced digital city with a publicly-accessible IT system that brings together essential information for citizens from bus times to energy use.

Bristol is bidding for the cash under the Government’s Future Cities Award scheme – one of four cities hoping to secure the investment to create a Future City Demonstrator.

Bristol’s bid centres on an IT platform which pulls together real-time data about how the city works from sources such as transport, energy, water, health and economy.

The rapid rise of smart phone apps, mobile communications, smart energy metering and tele healthcare demonstrates that data, especially data that is available in real time, is increasingly important to citizens.

Those behind the bid – including Mayor George Ferguson, who led a delegation of business and community leaders to London to promote it earlier this week – say Bristol’s case is strengthened by its many businesses, large and small, with the skills, knowledge and ideas to make use of open data and anonymous information.

Mr Ferguson said Bristol was well placed to lead the UK and the world in creating and testing the next wave of smart digital products and services.

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, he said: “Bristol has a very compelling bid and is the ideal place to locate a Future City Demonstrator. The project team is very strong with support from both the city’s universities, businesses and partners such as HP Labs, Toshiba Labs, Arup, IBM, BAE Systems, SETSquared, Watershed and Knowle West Media Centre.

“This exciting project will create new jobs not just for Bristol but for the UK as a whole, and will have determined leadership from me as the city’s new mayor.”

The platform would pool leading-edge technology from mobility-on-demand systems that increase real time access to transport options to games that use real-time environmental data to apps that help people look after their own health needs and care for their loved ones who may live some distance away.

And just as David Cameron recently piloted an innovative Prime Minister app, which was developed in London, if Bristol wins George Ferguson will trial a City Mayor app, or city dashboard, to monitor how well the city is doing on a daily basis.    

Bristol was originally one of 30 cities in the running in the competition, staged by the Government-backed Technology Strategy Board.  It is now short-listed alongside London, Peterborough and Glasgow.


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