02 October 2019

Cities of the future

Local Government News talks to Steve Austin, systems architect, UK & Ireland, at Signify to find out how councils can create a city that is truly smart by integrating different systems into one central location:

Q: What constitutes a truly smart city and when will they become a reality?

Mr Austin: A true smart city is the integration of a variety of many systems that are currently deployed within a local authority or municipality. A city will have a lot of different systems collecting valuable data, but what makes a city truly smart is when it’s possible to combine the individual systems into one central system, so those managing it get a fully holistic view. This allows them to make informed, data-driven decisions, instead of having to navigate multiple individual data streams.

A perfect example of this would be smart street lighting. It is possible to have lighting that utilises motion sensors – tracking footfall in the immediate environment and varying the light level depending on people or vehicular movement, which leads to more efficient lighting and can help reduce energy usage. Lighting can also be dynamically controlled when that data is integrated with other information collected by smart poles which offer environmental monitoring. This combined view of data allows city managers to make more informed decisions that can have a more tangible, positive impact for citizens and businesses.

With the wide use of camera systems in the UK, camera analytics are increasingly being exploited in the development of a smart city. City managers and urban planners recognise that cameras are no longer just about security but can be integrated into other systems - for example, lighting systems where footfall is analysed in certain parts of the city, and tailoring lighting levels needed at different times.

An essential area where this integration is really coming to life is with the wider adoption of electric vehicles. Having integrated data-sharing in a city will let citizens track charging point locations, where cars are charging and at what times – letting them adapt plans according to user needs for things like future charging stations, or increasing lighting responsively when a charging point is being utilised.

We’re already starting to see these smart city innovations now. Signify are currently conducting interim pilots with Highways England where interactive dynamic lighting is used to control sections of lighting on the M4 motorway based on the volume of vehicles. Interact City not only allows changing lighting levels based on historical data, but also makes it possible to measure real-time traffic flow and integrate this back into the central lighting system to adapt lighting levels on the road in real time.

Q: What is holding back the arrival of smart cities?

Mr Austin: Simply put – investment.

The hardest part for businesses is taking a first step into a sector where people have never really spent money before. Today it’s not easy to join the dots or see immediately what value the combined system data can offer a city – however, many municipalities have shown enthusiasm to do something but are not always certain where to take the first step.

The role of IT and digital transformation technologies is to push boundaries of possibility. There is so much potential in the space of smart cities, but for those with the power to install it, the choice can be overwhelming and actually impede the development of a smart city agenda.

My advice: Put innovation into the market that is already a reality and easy to implement, and watch the cities of the future unfold.

This feature first appeared in Local Government News magazine.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Youth Offending Team Officer (Qualified)

Leicestershire County Council
£33,558
Within the principle aims of preventing offending by children and young people. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Communications Manager (Improvement Journey)

Lancashire County Council
£34,373-£39,579
Lancashire County Council is changing... Could you be part of our journey? Lancashire
Recuriter: Lancashire County Council

Legal Caseworker (Children and Education) - 12 months duration

Essex County Council
£19867 - £23374 per annum + + 25 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Please note that interview will take place on the 24th August 2022. As an Anywhere (hybrid) Worker, your role will have a ECC base location, as sho England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Volunteer Services Officer

Lancashire County Council
£22,129-£25,927
Lancashire Volunteer Partnership (LVP) was set up in 2016 as a gateway into public volunteer services. Lancashire
Recuriter: Lancashire County Council

Planning Officer

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£32,868 - £36,579
Your work and advice will help us to put local people at the heart of everything we do. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.