Smart route to a digital future

Financial Services District
Glasgow’s International Financial Services District

Groundbreaking Smart Cities technology is helping to make Scotland an exciting and sustainable destination for US investment

by Clare Ross

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Scotland’s cities are using innovative advances in technology to boost their economic potential by transforming them into world-leading Smart Cities.

The Scottish Cities Alliance, which is the collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities and the Scottish Government, aims to use Smart City technology to transform cities into digital hubs to enable them to become more internationally competitive and boost economic growth.

Scotland’s cities offer huge potential to international investors and the Alliance has great ambitions for its city economies, which are high quality locations in which to do business.

Thanks to $13.5m in European Regional Development Funding, which is to be matched with $18.9m from the cities, this program aims to transform everything from street lighting to healthcare and from public safety to controlling energy use to make life smarter using open data.

This ground-breaking Smart Cities Scotland programme aims to make services across Scotland’s cities more efficient and greener while making the cities themselves more attractive to potential investors.

The ‘Smart’ ambitions of Scotland’s cities are connected to projects the cities believe will help them become some of the most desirable places to live and work and most sustainable locations in the world. Projects that have been given the green light include:

Smart Infrastructure – Intelligent Street lighting

Aberdeen, Perth, Stirling and Glasgow are piloting Intelligent Street Lighting which will deliver a range of benefits, including more controllable and efficient lighting, delivering energy savings and enhanced public and road safety. This will reduce CO2 emissions by using LED bulbs and sensors to control the lights.

Smart Services – Waste

Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling are working collaboratively in order to deliver improved waste management services, including deployment of smart bin technology and innovative smart technology deployed in the waste management process to enhance waste and recycling collections through improved monitoring and sharing of data and information. Sensors in bins alert waste management services to empty the bin only when full, improving efficiency.

Smart Infrastructure – Innovation Labs

An Innovation Hub in Perth will develop new businesses in the digital and creative sectors linking to research and education. The hub aims to foster new businesses and encourage entrepreneurs; but within the facility the Innovation Lab will take this further in terms of developing smart city technologies and solutions.

Open Data operations – data cluster

Cities will create data publication platforms with the introduction of data analytics which will allow cities to make evidence-based decisions in order to improve services and delivery. This means more informed decisions will be made, leading to efficiency.

The data gathered will be made widely available for others to use: it can be used in the development of new products and services and will create more responsive and appropriate services.

The Data Cluster involves all Scottish cities working to maximize the re-use of data through analytics and open data. Data analytics allows users to understand and create new intelligence and use that new intelligence to improve outcomes.

Open data makes data which was previously locked up in the public sector available as an asset for re-use, enabling greater innovation, generating new business opportunities, allowing communities to tackle their problems in their way at the same time as improving services and saving money.

The benefits of doing this at the seven cities level is that common uses of the data can be more quickly rolled out improving business opportunity and social benefit. Furthermore, combined, the cities offer a larger data asset to access than independently and can attract more interest and investment.

The data cluster procured an open data platform through a single framework for Dundee, Inverness and Perth allowing them to join Edinburgh and Glasgow with modern technology aimed at maximizing the use of open data. The city of Stirling is set to join the cluster this year.

Through the Open Data Cluster, the cities are working collaboratively to make the most of their data platforms publishing data and services in a common way to make it easy for businesses and citizens to scale up any application that uses data from the cities.

Open data sharing will support the various smart cities projects taking place across the cities including data, from waste management bin sensors to recharging data from low carbon vehicles.

Developing the infrastructure to open data from our smart cities, we’re ready for innovators to choose to develop new data driven services in Scotland’s urban areas.


The power of partnership

Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance Councilor John Alexander said: “Working together Scotland’s cities are making great impact using Smart Cities technology, and this technology in turn is helping to make Scotland’s seven cities sustainable places in which to invest.

“These Smart Cities projects will make cities more effective and help to drive down pollution, giving them the edge to attract more investment.

“The data cluster should provide a great hook for investors to compare relevant information from our cities easily.

“By working together Scotland’s cities are utilizing economies of scale to learn individually and share that knowledge collectively, to be at the cutting edge of Smart City technology and the benefits that brings.

“By working together, the Alliance partners are working hard to create an economically stronger future for Scotland.”