Bristol Is Open is a joint venture between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council. It is funded by the local, national and European governments, with academic research funding, and by the private sector. It is delivering research and development initiatives that contribute to the development of a smart city and the ‘Internet of Things’.
Small sensors, including the smart phones and GPS devices of willing participants, will supply the three new fast networks in the centre of Bristol, with information about many aspects of city life, including energy, air quality and traffic flows. A city operating system will dynamically host this machine-to-machine communication, allowing the development of a wide range of applications.
Once the new networks are established in the city centre, they will be extended out to the wider city region, to Bath, parts of North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, over the next three years. These networks are for research and development projects, they will not provide free or commercial broadband or wifi, however, there will be opportunities for people to join one of the experimental projects if they want to.
All the data generated will be anonymised and made public through an ‘open data’ portal. We will have fun with creative content flowing through the network at new speeds, for example, projecting 3D images into the night sky or holding a music concert across multiple venues in the city at the same time. Digital inclusion activities are being baked-into the project from the get-go by local community organisations.
Bristol Is Open is welcoming a range of partners to the project, including large telecom and software companies, small hi-tech start-ups, public service delivery organisations, academics and others. Participants will get a slice of the network to work with. It is likely that the network itself will not always be on as we use it to develop a city operating system. The active, wireless and mesh network will be technology agnostic, built on open network principles, using software defined network technologies, that enable network function virtualisation.