There are three main initiatives contributing to Bristol’s position as the U.K.’s leading smart city – Bristol Is Open, the city operations centre and the involvement of citizens.
Smart City Research and Development
Bristol has been forward looking through its investment in Bristol is Open, which is a joint venture between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol. This has resulted in a Smart City Research and Development network platform of multiple communications technologies installed around the city.
Currently three networks are integrated through software controls: fibre in the ground, a wireless het-net (a heterogeneous network where the wireless network is provided in different ways) along the Brunel Mile area of Bristol with Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, 5G and LTE experiments, and a radio frequency mesh network deployed on 2,000 of the city’s lampposts.
This platform is allowing companies of all sizes to come and test new technology in a real-world environment rather than just inside a laboratory.
Bristol has a wealth of local companies and start-ups, some of whom are already working with Bristol is Open to trial their technologies. It is particularly exciting to work with local start-up companies like Zeetta Networks who have developed an interactive programmable open platform that connects multiple elements to the Bristol platform.
City Operations Centre
A significant development is the implementation of the City Operations Centre to provide integrated monitoring and management of city services, including the following:
Traffic management and control
Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) monitoring for safety and security
Out of hours call handling
Data from the City Operation Centre will feed into the city’s open data platform. The data platform will open up the opportunity for businesses and citizens to develop and share information about the city, and to create new products or services.
A key element of Bristol’s smart city and innovation strategy is a focus on citizen-centric solutions. The city council, along with the Knowle West Media Centre and Ideas for Change, launched a programme called The Bristol Approach which aims to put communities at the heart of innovation. The Bristol Approach focuses on supporting people to work together to identify the knowledge, technology, and resources needed to tackle a problem.
The city is focusing on the development of smart districts, where a more holistic view can be taken across issues like transport, energy, housing, and the potential use of new technologies and better data. One of the EU-funded programs is REPLICATE. This focuses on delivering an integrated smart district in the east of the city. Specifically, it aims to help people save money on their energy bills, explore new ways of travelling around, and reduce energy use and demand, and our impact on the environment.
One citizen-driven project is the Damp Busters pilot. This seems to enable citizens to measure and combat the problem of damp in homes. It is extensively based on The Bristol Approach.