Big plans to harness data and makeDerry a Smart City are progressing

Major proposals to use data and digital technology to turn Derry into a Smart City are progressing.

Friday, 20th November 2020, 5:08 pm

The plan includes the collection of data from a range of sources including city centre sensors. This will be used to roll-out smart lighting, traffic management, car parking, waste management, energy consumption, tourism, citizen engagement, education and skills and health and well-being in a new 21st century ‘City of Things’ if it goes ahead.

Fresh details of the Smart City proposal - one of the City Deal projects - have been released to the ‘Journal’ by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“Smart cities put data and digital technology to work with the goal of improving the quality of life of its citizens. Smart cities are playing a critical role in assisting with economic recovery and building resilient cities.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (left) looks at student Carl McCready wearing a brain-computer interface, during his visit to the Magee campus of Ulster University in Derry-Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 25, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Chancellor. Photo credit Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (left) looks at student Carl McCready wearing a brain-computer interface, during a visit to the Magee in 2018.should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“Typically, a Smart City includes a range of components including for example, health, public services, industry, transport and environment, with successful cities having an integrated patchwork of all underpinned by an extensive digital enabling infrastructure and robust data,” according to an outline of the plans released to the ‘Journal’.

Five millions pounds is being invested, but this is viewed as only the first step towards developing Derry as a city of the future.

“The proposal aims to transform the delivery of a range of services across the city and district through a citizen centric approach that uses data to improve decision making and help make those services more responsive. The Smart City will also become the focal point for the city’s innovation ecosystem catalysing commercialisation opportunities whilst at the same time addressing many of the city’s challenges and assisting with economic recovery.

“The project will build on the city’s strengths in terms of its strong innovation ecosystem with its focus on university led centres of research excellence (Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory - CARL, Centre for Industry Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation - CIDRA and Innovation Centres of Excellence - Personalised Medicine Centre of Excellence - THRIVE), a youthful population and a city centre of sufficient scale, that collectively have the potential to deliver a step change in economic growth across the city and region and have a positive impact on the lives of citizens,” Council documents state.

These ambitions put Derry on a path being taken by cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York, Shanghai, Moscow and London, among others, to improve how their urban environments function.

Among the ground breaking developments proposed is an ‘Open Data Repository’ that will hold baseline information relating to the city and data captured through smart city digital infrastructure.

A ‘Digital Data Platform’ will facilitate the collection of data from a range of sources and ensure inter-operability across systems, databases and city centre sensors.

A ‘Smart Hub’ living lab facility for early experimentation and testing of smart city specialisations is another element of the proposition.

A ‘test bed/demonstrator (City of Things)’ is proposed to deliver smart lighting, smart traffic management/mobility systems, car parking, smart waste management, energy consumption, new tourism products, citizen engagement, education and skills and health and well-being.

An ‘Open City Innovation Challenge Fund’ will bankroll SMEs or individuals to address various city~region challenges through smart digital innovation.

And a pilot ‘Smart Energy’ proposal will involve the increased roll out of electric vehicles and infrastructure, increased uptake of renewable energy sources, smart initiatives to tackle fuel poverty and the development of a Smart Energy Grid for the city.

A Strategic Outline Cases is being advanced and if it eventually goes ahead the council is convinced of the benefits.

“The shift to becoming a Smart/Future City presents significant opportunities and benefits for the Derry Londonderry and Strabane city region including better informed decision making, increased efficiencies in city’s infrastructure, development of commercial opportunities leading to increased productivity and better jobs, improved sustainability and improved quality of life for the city’s citizens,” it says.