Bristol looks for partner in smart city initiative

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NEWSBYTE Bristol City Council has tendered a £400,000 contract to find a supplier to deliver phase two of its Smart City strategy. The programme looks to upgrade urban traffic management and healthcare, among other connected services.

According to a posting on the UK government’s digital marketplace, the local authority is looking for a partner to “lead, plan, prioritise, prototype, and deliver the technical innovations that will form Bristol’s SMART services”.

The work will also cover a variety of other areas, including security and surveillance, energy, the environment, and waste, says the announcement.

The local authority said that it wants to ensure better use of its assets, funding, and technology. The successful applicant will help to ensure that programmes are taken all the way from concept to implementation.

Under the scheme, commercial strategies will also be put in place to ensure that Bristol’s fibre network, Operations Centre, urban assets, and infrastructure are all “fully utilised in an efficient way to ensure the best use of technology, capacity, people, and processes”.

The first phase of the Smart City programme has already been completed, and Bristol City Council wants to complete phase two by February 2019.

Multifunctional operations centre

Under phase one, the council built a new multifunctional operations centre, which includes an IT platform on which other systems can be integrated to provide dashboard-based management, insights, and analytics. Urban traffic management will be the first programme to move into the new centre, followed by tele-health and broadband rollouts.

Phase 2 also hopes to increase the number of customers using the Operations Centre. Alongside Operations Centre staff will be other council employees and partner agencies, such as Bristol is Open, the University of Bristol, local emergency services, and clinical commissioning groups.

Internet of Business says

The expected contract length is 8-9 months with a maximum budget of £400,000. The closing date for applications is 5 April.

Read more: Asia Pacific smart city spend to top $ 28.3 billion in 2018

Read more: Smart city hotspots: FLIR manages traffic using thermal imaging

Read more: Councils partner with Telensa on smart city programmes

Read more: Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

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Bristol overtakes London to become UK’s leading smart city

Bristol has overtaken London to become the UK’s leading smart city, according to Huawei’s latest UK Smart Cities Index.

The study, commissioned by Huawei and undertaken by Navigant Consulting, saw the top two switch places from 2016’s report, with both remaining the only designated ‘leaders’ in the analysis.

The 2017 report has doubled its scope to 20 cities analysed, with 12 cities in the ‘contender’ bracket, four in the third ‘challenger’ bracket and two designated as ‘followers’. New cities in this year’s analysis include Cambridge, the only new entry to break the top 10, as well as Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

Bristol’s move to top spot came as a “direct result of it taking significant strides to extend its innovation programmes and more closely integrate those initiatives into city strategy,” in the words of a University of Bristol press release. The university works alongside Bristol City Council as part of the Bristol Is Open project, which was launched in 2015 and aims to be an incubator for the city’s innovations.

The study examines cities on 10 criteria, from vision to digital innovation, and from environmental impact to community reach. Bristol was particularly praised for the latter, with one element being the ‘Damp Busters’ pilot initiative where sensors are used to gather data around damp in homes.

“UK cities are demonstrating an impressive commitment to service and technology innovation,” said Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Consulting and study leader in a statement. “They are now embedding smart city ideas into city planning and operations. They are also preparing for the impact of the next wave of technologies, including 5G, autonomous vehicles, and machine learning.

“The growing contribution that local universities are making to these programmes further emphasises the importance of advanced technologies to the future of UK cities,” Woods added.

The full list of cities is: 1. Bristol, 2. London, 3. Manchester, 4. Birmingham, 5. Leeds, 6. Milton Keynes, 7. Glasgow, 8. Nottingham, 9. Peterborough, 10. Cambridge, 11. Oxford, 12. Aberdeen, 13. Edinburgh, 14. Newcastle, 15. Belfast, 16. Sheffield, 17. Reading, 18. Liverpool, 19. Cardiff, 20. Exeter.

You can find out more here.

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YoBike chooses Bristol for its ‘Uber-like’ bike-sharing launch

YoBike, a new app-based bike-sharing service, has chosen Bristol as its European launch city in the startup’s bid to make local transport more sustainable and convenient.

While bike-sharing schemes have seen rollouts not just in the UK but around the world; most require users to pick up and deposit bikes at set locations around the city. YoBike takes a smarter and more convenient approach with bikes able to be locked up (and picked up by other users) in any legal and safe location.

Our fleet of bikes will help Bristol meet its target for becoming a greener city

Built-in digital locks allow users to discover and unlock the bikes via YoBike’s app on iOS or Android and pay for the desired usage time. A bike can be rented for £1 per hour, 24 hours for £5, or an annual commuter pass is available for just £39 which allow for two, one-hour-long rides per day.

Similar business models to YoBike are popular in Asia but it’s the first time such a bike-sharing scheme is available in the UK. While most other schemes, including the so-called ‘Boris Bikes’ in London, offer heavy and clunky bikes – YoBike promises high-quality aluminium-alloy bikes which require minimal maintenance due to features such as punctureless tires.

YoBike has partnered with Bristol charity Life Cycle which trains prisoners in mechanic skills

If a bike goes missing after it’s been properly locked, YoBike will not charge the previous user and the bike should be able to be located using a built-in GPS. A number of measures have been implemented to deter thieves including a siren which goes off if the bikes are tampered with and custom-made parts which are useless to private bikes.

“Anyone who steals these bikes will be disappointed,” said YoBike UK CEO Michael Qian. “There’s really not much you can sell for use on other bikes and the bright yellow bikes themselves are so recognisable it would be very difficult to sell them on in one piece.”

300 of the bikes are set to be delivered to Bristol in May and will rise to more than 500 before the end of the month. Opening the app earlier today showed a wide selection of parking spots but not many bikes yet available:

“Our fleet of bikes will help Bristol meet its target for becoming a greener city, combatting congestion and setting an inspiring example to other cities across the UK”, comments Qian. “YoBike wants to promote and facilitate safe cycling, which is affordable and convenient for people living and working in the city”.

The company’s app is easy-to-use and offers some fun but useful stats including calories burned and the amount of carbon emissions saved.

Bristol is often considered to be an environmentally-conscious city and was awarded the European Green Capital award in 2015, but poor transport links have also led to it being among the most congested. YoBike will appeal to both denizens looking to live greener lifestyles and those just looking for cheaper and more convenient transportation options.

YoBike has partnered with a Bristol charity Life Cycle which trains prisoners in mechanic skills on how to strip down, repair, and rebuild bikes, with the aim of achieving City & Guilds accredited qualifications in Cycle Mechanics. Prisoners from HMP Bristol Prison will help with the maintenance of YoBike’s bikes following their initial launch phase.

Further adding to YoBike’s smart city credentials, the company is working with Drayson Technologies to add CleanSpace environmental sensors to the bikes. Usage data will be shared with local government to assist with future resource planning and congestion initiatives.

What are your thoughts on YoBike’s bike-sharing scheme? Let us know in the comments.

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