Smart Place infrastructure

Why is this important?

Smart Place Technology is mature and now widely deployed, allowing the interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Sensors are embedded in physical infrastructure such as street furniture, buildings, practically anything physical.

There are a range of sensors that can read data such as air quality, traffic flow, footfall count, road temperature, condensation in rooms etc. This data is then transferred via a network, such as a LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) to a back office data analytics application that can analyse and present visually the detail captured to assist in real time and long term planning decisions on the provision of services.

It can be the basis of a system embedded in the decision making process for governing every day decisions on running a city to make life better for citizens. From data capture, to connectivity to storage and advanced analytics to inform decision making in whole series of areas to make everyday life for our citizens better.

It will also support strategic objectives such as tackling Climate Change and contributing to Clean Growth.

What is our ambition?

Our ambition is to implement a smart place infrastructure providing the foundation for a whole ecosystem that will transform our economy by:

  • delivering local service efficiencies
  • allowing entrepreneurs to try out and demonstrate their ideas
  • supporting the creation of new businesses in Bradford based on innovation.
  • Enabling smart-tech solutions where mobile phone networks are inadequate.
  • Teaching school children and students about the technology, increasing interest in coding careers

Where are we now?

The Council was an early adopter of this technology and carried out a number of pilots, to begin the learning on how best the technology can be applied at a local level. Some of these were no more than the implementation of one or two sensors to understand what data can be captured, its usefulness, what works and what doesn’t, a technical assessment of what is needed, what are the GDPR issues, security issues etc. The application areas varied from flood monitors and CO2 sensors, to motion sensors for footfall count and bin sensors.

In addition, as part of the Council’s multi-million-pound Smart Street Lighting programme, an end-to-end IoT Solution has been procured where every lamp post will be installed with a sensor. These in turn will be linked through a LoRaWAN network of 34 gateways. This provides the basis of an initial network sensor ecosystem located across the district providing an excellent capability to deploy a range of applications that can deliver real time data and real value across the district.

An analytics tools will receive the captured data, interpret and present the data to provide real time insight and knowledge to decision makers and service planners. The end-to-end solution is based on open standards to aid interoperability with other platforms and avoid proprietary lock-in. This is a key core capability already being established to help us meet our digital aspirations for the district

The challenge now for the Council and its partners is to decide how best to use this capability, what are the priority needs of the citizens of Bradford that this technology can help with? How best do we collect, store and analyse data at the ‘edge’, and how can AI-enabled data analysis help with smart city planning? How can we leverage the significant investment made on IoT capability and how together with 5G can it deliver value to the citizens of Bradford?

From our own proof of concepts and the insight from our research we have concluded the following learning points to help guide us:

  1. The landscape is “littered with pilots” and it was difficult to find large scale use cases. Moving from pilot to scale is a real challenge and some have struggled due to poor design choices
  2. Some areas have ended up “stuck in proprietary” and locked into vendor technologies creating a fragmented landscape across their area
  3. There is a need to shift thinking from what we can do with this technology to what are our needs and be smarter in procurement in the market place
  4. It is about narrowing it down and “getting the plumbing right”.
  5. Need to take a holistic view on how digitally enabled are our citizens and what are we doing about it. people’s ability to use technology
  6. It is crucial to get the data strategy right, the right data platform and analytical resources. There is also a need for data sharing agreements; COVID shone a bright light on this and helped remove some barriers.
  7. We need to put the citizens of Bradford at the centre of the solution design
  8. It is important to get local partners to work together and collaborate to leverage the investment landscape

What are we going to do?

In summary, we will:

  1. Draw from our learning to date to ensure we avoid the pitfalls identified
  2. Hold workshops with service representatives to demonstrate the art of the possible and capture service needs and priorities.
  3. Develop a business case tool to capture, filter and prioritise application ideas to ensure success in delivering value to Bradford citizens
  4. Implement robust governance in place including effective citizen engagement to allow progression with confidence with the investment already made to date, from pilot to scale, applications that address the needs and priorities for Bradford citizens
  5. Invest further in appropriate sensors for the chosen priority use cases
  6. Promote the network to businesses, entrepreneurs and the public and facilitate collaboration about their experiments, achievements, products and sales.
  7. Promote and explain the LoRaWAN network across Bradford District and allow potential market suppliers to analyse locations and assess the potential market opportunities.
  8. Provide briefings to the Wellbeing Board and LEP sector groups and their members and hold CBMDC Business Breakfasts promoting the technology
  9. Present school, college and university briefings to highlight the opportunities for student and teacher developments
  10. Promote achievements, capture outputs and outcomes

5 years on

What does ‘good’ look like?

A ‘Bring Your Own Gateway’ programme has encouraged new innovations and provided a platform for developing schools and student talent, and is offering new opportunities where people are living and working now.

The application of this technology will be determined by local priorities, local need and delivering real value to the live-ability of Bradford Citizens. Robust business cases will be developed.

We are confident that in five years we will have implemented a range of applications providing real value, typically in the areas of Environment (air quality, flooding, ground temp), Transport (traffic management, parking, fleet tracking), Health (movement and activity monitoring for elderly), Energy, Buildings management and many other areas.