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Manchester to lead 'smart city' project

GC News Published 15 December 2010

Manchester to lead 'smart city' project

Manchester has been chosen to lead a £2m Europe-wide 'Smart Cities' internet initiative

A bid led by the city council has won European funding to involve the city's residents and businesses in testing new internet based services and applications, aimed at improving the environment and quality of life.

The Smart Innovation and People project (Smart-IP) will begin this month and run for two years. It brings together Manchester City Council, researchers from the University of Manchester on future internet services and the community reporters programme run by city charity People's Voice Media.

The Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) will lead the work on behalf of the council, and will work with the university to distribute internet linked monitoring devices. Residents of the city will be encouraged to carry the devices to monitor the environment and feed back real time information through wireless connections while they are walking, cycling or using public transport.

The information will include air quality and temperature, traffic congestion, bus and tram availability. It will be used in the future planning and delivery of services.

People will also be encouraged to provide their own views about how these challenges can be tackled via social media.

People's Voice Media will train residents and workers in the city to be environmental community reporters, and discuss their ideas for innovation and web improvements through blogs and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Manchester will work with other leading 'smart cities' across Europe, including Ghent (Belgium), Cologne (Germany), Bologna (Italy) and Oulo (Finland). The European Commission has asked Manchester to chair a working group which will coordinate the projects.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "An innovative spirit runs through Manchester's history and we welcome the fact that the city will take a leadership role in this Smart Cities project which will harness the latest technology to our goal of becoming the greenest city in the UK.

"This initiative will complement our Greater Manchester Strategy which sets out our ambitious vision for the city region by 2020. The future internet project will build on our Next Generation Access Broadband plans to provide ultra-fast connection speeds and ensure that local residents have a direct say in how we develop new services as a smart city of the future."

The city also hopes that its lead role in the initiative will help attract new investment and jobs from high-tech companies as the city becomes a 'Living Lab' test bed for new future internet services.

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