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Smarter Cities UK

Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

By Vince Ward

What started out as a community-based energy project on the Isle of Wight has morphed into a bona fide social movement.

Encouraged by the work of IBM Distinguished Engineer, Andy Stanford-Clark, who created a “smart” house that monitored, managed and optimized energy use, three years ago the Village of Chale created the Chale Community Project, which seeks, among other things, to reduce home energy costs by up to 50 percent. While the project has indeed raised awareness and helped residents lower costs, it has also had a serendipitous outcome – it has brought the community together.

From the very beginning of the Chale Community Project – during planning and roll-out phases – we worked on ensuring the local community was on board. Going from door to door, the team would communicate with residents about the plan of action, encourage participation and try to boost morale. Continue Reading »

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Naveen Lamba, Global Smarter Transportation leader, IBM Global Business Services

By Naveen Lamba

Circling for a parking spot, worrying about feeding the parking meters, and ultimately wondering if you should just turn around and go home. These are familiar feelings for anyone who has ever had to find a parking spot in a hurry. Not only is it frustrating, but the time spent looking for parking also contributes to traffic congestion – some research suggests 30 percent on average – and air pollution.

Parking is an area of transportation that had seen little innovation until a just a few years ago. With today’s technology – from sensors to smarter meters to advanced analytics – cities can reinvent parking to help reduce congestion and make our cities more livable. 

Enter Streetline, a Silicon Valley start-up that provides Smart Parking solutions to cities, garages, airports, universities and other private parking providers. The company is the creator of Parker™, a free smartphone app that guides drivers to available parking spaces in real time.

The company won the 2010 IBM SmartCamp, a global entrepreneurship program that identifies early stage start-ups in the Smarter Planet industries. Through this program, Streetline had access to a global network of experts and advisors. Since then, Streetline and IBM have continued working together.

(Next week IBM will host the 2013 Global SmartCamp Finals in New York City.) Continue Reading »

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Simon Parsons, IBM Global Business Services, addresses some of the key questions facing the AEC industry.

What’s the challenge with buildings today?
Buildings – from houses and flats, offices, manufacturing sites to sports facilities and retail outlets – are massive energy users. Experts estimate that commercial and residential buildings consume one third of the world’s energy. If worldwide energy-use trends continue, buildings will become the largest consumer of global energy by 2025, more than the transportation and industrial sectors combined. Massive urbanisation is driving this momentum. Continue Reading »

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With public-sector budgets under greater pressure and scrutiny than ever, having the ability to fine-tune services and to deliver them where they’re needed most is becoming increasingly important. Social media gives city authorities this opportunity, tapping into public sentiment in real time – albeit only that portion of the public using social media and in a raw form.

Crucially, it’s not just a case of passively watching and listening to what citizens are saying. The social web also makes it possible to reach out in new ways. Social networks mean local government can carry out surveys – and publicise them – at relatively low cost. Insights gained in this way not only represent a significant cash saving; they can also be carried out more rapidly than traditional opinion polls, with no paper processing delays and no risk of data transcription errors. Continue Reading »

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What makes a smarter social media city? At its best, it is:

It promotes citizen involvement and builds a new sense of
ownership with scope for collaboration in every aspect of city life.

It lifts the bonnet on how the city works – processes are visible,
dialogue is open, feedback is swift.

It delivers services in real time with an enhanced ability to adjust
to citizens’ fast-changing needs.

It respects privacy, protects data and leverages technology to
enhance the physical security of citizens.

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Watch Social Media Enabled Cities webinar

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Social media provides local government with powerful and flexible tools to deliver information services through a variety of channels. Equally important, it provides unique tools for formulating policy and redefining the meaning of accountability as well.

Discovery techniques based on social media are already helping local authorities to shape the future and to define exactly what a smarter city should look like. Coventry in the UK’s West Midlands is a case in point. Continue Reading »

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Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare – we no longer just communicate; we interact. In the process, how can the wealth of information being generated by social media help us better understand how our cities function and create smarter cities in the process?

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all report membership in the hundreds of millions. Google+, the social media network launched by the search engine giant early in 2011, saw 25 million people sign up in its first four weeks. Foursquare popularised geolocation in social media, and now photographs, tweets and status updates can be tagged with your location. Our appetite for social media is changing the way we communicate and offers new ways to interact with our cities.

Over a billion people worldwide log on to social networking sites. British internet users on PCs clocked up a total of 169 million hours on Facebook alone in April 2011, according to research by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator. Mobile users of Facebook, meanwhile, spend more than five and a half hours on the site each month. Clearly, social media is not a fad. Instant communication over social networks – and the presumption of instant feedback – now underpins just about every aspect of our lives. This includes our relationships with local and city governments. The spectacular growth of social media has also increased expectations about transparency and the right to participate in the policy-making process. Used properly, social media represents new value for local authorities, especially when coupled with the right technology, such as a secure private cloud. Leading cities in the UK, US and beyond are already tapping into this hunger for public engagement, with social media playing a part in everything from town planning to combating traffic jams.

Download the Social media and the city new paper


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Social media represents an exciting new opportunity for local councils to engage with their citizens. This webinar will bring together experts from local governments, digital agencies, and technology providers, to address the key challenges and possibilities created through social media.

The rise of social media is undeniable, with over 800 million Facebook users worldwide and 140 million tweets sent every day, social media can no longer be dismissed as a trend or generational phenomenon. It is therefore vital for cities and the communities they represent to not only monitor these social channels, but to also actively participate in them. Social media represents a unique opportunity for local councils to offer innovative new services and communicate with their citizens. This webinar will bring together experts from local governments, digital agencies, and technology providers to address the key challenges facing councils in implementing such a programme.


Please click here to register to this free webinar

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