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Manchester has recently triumphed over 22 entries across 34 cities, winning a government-backed competition with a prize of a £10m government grant to become a world leader in smart-city technology. Innovate UK’s Internet of Things competition aimed to find the best proposal for using smart technology to improve the public service’s within a city. The winner, Manchester’s CityVerve Project, has great plans for the £10m fund, which will propel the UK to the forefront of adoption of Internet of Things technology around the world, hopefully inspiring other cities to follow its lead.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connected network of different objects which can communicate with each other. These can be anything from important items like heart monitoring devices to more mundane examples like kettles or fridges. With an aim to increase efficiency, automation and communication, the field is expected to consist of almost 50 billion objects by the year 2020.

A more connected Manchester

IOT2Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, has said he is ‘delighted’ that Manchester has been given the chance to ‘make a real positive difference’ to ‘people and businesses’ through ‘imaginative use of smart technology’. The plans certainly suggest this will be the case, with the CityVerve Project (created by the Manchester City Council, alongside technology giant Cisco, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Science Partnerships, and BT) focusing on healthcare, transport, energy and environment, and culture and community. Plans include:

  • Talkative bus stops to make public transport more efficient, safe, and flexible by using location-based services, sensors/beacons, and allowing people to ‘check-in’ via mobile apps, to let drivers know they are waiting at a stop.
  • Sensors in parks and pedestrian routes to encourage people to take part in more physical activity, and promote a healthier lifestyle.
  • Data analysis sensors being placed on street furniture, lamp posts, street cabinets and so on, to monitor the quality of the air at different heights and locations. This information will be passed on to people with health conditions in particular, but also be made available to everybody, to allow them to make informed decisions regarding their chosen routes.
  • Smart street lighting will be implemented, with the hopes of encouraging people to use alternative transportation methods and reduce congestion and pollution on the roads.
  • secure, crowd-sourced bike-sharing service.

The creation of the UK IoT Centre of Excellence will also bring great benefits to the city, by providing startups and small businesses with access to a world-leading innovation programme. All in all, the £10m fund should go a long way in improving day-to-day life for Mancunians, and pioneering smart-technology globally. And with this being just with the £10m, we can get excited about what can happen with the rest of the £40m of the government’s investment in Internet of Things technology, a sector expected to be worth over £255 billion by 2020.

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