Striving to Transform Hull into a Smart City
Robin Harris and Rob Miles are kickstarting Hull’s Smart City on Wednesday 21 February with an event that aims to unite C4DI members with organisations and businesses across the region.
We spoke with the pair to understand what a Smart City is and how it could revolutionise the way we live, work and play.
In short, what is a Smart City?
Rob: The main concept of a Smart City is to collect data using tens of thousands of small sensors that are installed in specific places, such as roads, street lights or even recycling bins. With this data, we can tackle a variety of issues, such as transportation challenges, waste management, street lighting and air quality.
What sort of things could we expect to see in a Smart City?
Rob: A good example would be monitoring the water levels in the River Hull or Humber. By installing a few sensors, we accurately can see what conditions affect the water level and act upon this information to decrease flood risk.
Hull City Council is also keen to develop something that can monitor air quality and a product that addresses issues in adult social services.
Robin: Other examples include, changing traffic light sequences to deal with the traffic flow, tracking when people’s bins are full and need collecting and checking the daily habits of the elderly to ensure they are safe and well.
The possibilities are far-reaching. The key difference is that, by using tech, we can gather accurate readings continuously, rather than taking an average less frequently.
How can we achieve this in Hull?
Robin: Well, this is what our Kickstarting Hull’s Smart City event is all about. The only way forward is to bring organisations from across the region, who can benefit from this technology and implement it.
Rob: We’re starting with the idea of collaboration between local authorities and commercial businesses. We understand that there is some competition out there, but we think that together we can make progress happen a lot faster. Our first steps need to be developing a proof of concept product that demonstrates the power of Smart City technology.
And, what sort of technology is behind a Smart City?
Rob: LoRa, which is short for Low Powered Radio, is a crucial component of a Smart City as it offers solutions to a diverse array of problems.
It allows small, low-powered devices to connect to a wide area network, using a radio system with a range of up to a few kilometres. We think this has huge potential for products and services.
How can C4DI members get involved?
Robin: At the event on Wednesday 21 February, you can learn more about LoRa capabilities, as well as how you can get involved.
There are two parts to the day. The morning session is aimed at decision makers, movers and shakers who represent organisations, whether they have a problem or can offer a remedy. We’re expecting individuals from Hull City Council, the NHS, KCOM, Connexin and CityFibre.
The afternoon has more of a tech focus, where we can discuss with developers the potential for this innovation. Anyone is welcome who has an interest in Smart Cities or the Internet of Things; we need people who has a skill in app development, machine learning, big data management and data visualisation techniques.
Why should people come along?
Robin: It would be incredible to see Hull as a leading Smart City in a few years, where we have a core workforce that can deliver exciting things for Hull, as well as become an export of the area.
Rob: I think we have an air of local pride. We want to put Hull on the map as a leading Smart City and we truly believe we have the talent in the area to achieve this.
Robin: Hull has several surprising hidden gems that already deliver world-class solutions, this is just another area that the city can thrive.
You can hear more about Smart Cities at C4DI on Wednesday 21 February. To book your spot, please visit the event page http://c4di.co.uk/smarthull