The era of the Smart City has well and truly begun – and Manchester is actively seeking transformative technologies to cement its place at the forefront of the movement. Now, following the selection of three businesses as new CityVerve suppliers, innovative projects are getting the chance to be tested citywide.
It was only a matter of time before our growing fascination with Big Data and technology directly influenced how we all live, work, and play within local spaces. Sitting comfortably at the intersection of our physical environment and the advent of exciting new technologies is the idea of the ‘Smart City’ – a mantle which Manchester has already made strides towards achieving.
Proving that the city’s ambitions haven’t been tempered by the likes of Brexit or recent data scandals, three local businesses have been appointed as CityVerve suppliers, providing a unique opportunity to test several new projects across Manchester with support from the council.
The end result of these trial projects is the same: to add a new dimension to how the city works, providing better opportunities to plan, prepare and deliver an exciting new living environment for everybody, whilst addressing the needs of the public.
Creating a Global Blueprint
“This is a fantastic platform for [the successful firms] to showcase their business, contribute to the wider CityVerve project and demonstrate how digital innovation can work for Manchester.”
–Richard Elliott, Manchester City Council
At the heart of this movement is CityVerve, Manchester’s Smart City demonstrator. The programme aims to bring together enthusiastic innovators, providing a platform to introduce the Internet of Things (IOT) to the streets of Manchester, whilst creating new jobs and an improved infrastructure offering.
But CityVerve’s – and the city council’s – goals transcend introducing IOT at a local level. As expressed on their website, through trialling projects and improving upon trialled innovations, CityVerve hopes to create the global blueprint for smart cities everywhere – a lofty goal which will see Manchester leading the rest of the world.
Trialling New Ideas
Before reaching the heady heights of a global pioneer, however, trials and testing must be undertaken – which is where the announcement of three new CityVerve suppliers serves as welcome proof that the council’s plans remain on track.
Announced at the end of March, the three brands – Retail Sensing, Tracsis and Apadmi – will each be provided with a platform to demonstrate their ideas, ready to present findings in the summer.
Retail Sensing is no stranger to the city, as a home-grown name within the Manchester tech scene. Known for their people-counting and data collection services, Retail Sensing are playing to their strengths by deploying sensors along Oxford Road to collect information on the directional flow of footfall and traffic. This can be achieved by using a CCTV people-counting system, which carries an impressive 98% accuracy rate and has positioned Retail Sensing as a competitive force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, Tracsis – providers of transport survey and data-capture services – will deploy sensors at access points to Albert Square, as well as the city’s four main train stations (Victoria, Piccadilly, Deansgate and Oxford Road) in order to collect data on human traffic. The data will provide city planners with insights into crowd behaviour, allowing for stronger decision-making and helping Manchester to successfully play to its renowned reputation as an event city.
Finally, Manchester-based Apadmi will be applying their mobile expertise to the city’s communications channels. Manchester City Council employees will be provided with an app specially developed for the trial, allowing them to report on environment problems across the city. If the trial progresses as hoped, Apadmi’s contribution could prove effective in developing better communication between the council and members of the public.
Informing the Future
At the heart of each of these trials is the hope that decisions around the city’s future can be better informed – from how issues highlighted by the public are dealt with, to more effective crowd management and event planning.
The sentiment is not lost on the Kaleida team. As a software development house building tailored solutions addressing our clients’ unique challenges, we understand how the application of technology and data can better position firms to go further for their customers – which is exactly what the CityVerve programme aims to achieve on a local and global level.
With the trials now live, there’s every chance that these three projects could shape Manchester’s infrastructure and development for years to come, creating a more connected city that elevates Manchester beyond other cities – an exciting prospect indeed.
But even if these trials don’t come to fruition by the summer, it’s at least reassuring to note that the city’s ambitions are as sky-high as ever – a smart decision, from a smart city.
Kaleida are a bespoke software development house based in Manchester, delivering tailored solutions to clients across a range of businesses. To find out more about the work we’ve done, feel free to explore our case studies page, or get in touch to talk to our team directly.