Keeping on top of new developments
12th May 2009
Listening to the BBC Breakfast News yesterday, while getting ready for work, didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. Is that because I am always one step ahead when it comes to breaking news? No, it is because I am working at Digital Birmingham!
Wading through all the information about the ministerial expenses debate, Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid turned their attention to innovation in the terms of smart metering and intelligent transport – both of which Digital Birmingham supports in the local area.
The Labour Government are proposing to install smart metering in all UK households by 2020, at a cost of approximately £10 billion. Smart metering is just that, a real time record of how much gas and electricity you are using throughout the day. For example, when you boil the kettle your smart meter will alert you to the amount of money it has cost you along with the electricity that has been used, which can be quite a shock! It will be able to show you how your consumption history has changed from the day, week and even year before, encouraging you to become more green.
Digital Birmingham is a partner on a European smart metering project, entitled DEHEMS (Digital Environment Home Energy Management System) in conjunction with Manchester, Bristol, Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria. Working alongside Housing Associations, the DEHEMS project group are carrying out pilot testing of smart metering in residential areas. Birmingham’s group, including Be Birmingham, Digital Birmingham and Family Housing are currently conducting their pilot with 20 Birmingham households. Many can now save on their gas and electricity bills – along with having better awareness of how much energy they are needlessly using on a daily basis.
The BBC also reported on Transport for London’s (TfL) trial of Intelligent Speed Adaptation, a technology which can control the speed of a car or bus, and aims to decrease the number of accidents on the road. The gadget looks very similar to a satellite navigation system but it monitors the speed you are driving, alerting you to the fact you may be over the limit. By just pressing a button on the device, the gadget will actually start to control your speed – i.e. if you try to accelerate over the speed limit the car will not respond.
Once the trial has finished, a report will be submitted to the Lord Mayor of London regarding the effectiveness of the device. If deemed successful, it will be available to other Local Authorities to use themselves.
Digital Birmingham is involved in the Birmingham’s Intelligent Transport agenda, along with Microsoft, Birmingham Science City, Coventry University Enterprises and Shoothill (Virtual Earth developers), although the project direction is different to London’s. The partnership has developed a demonstrator that shows how digital technology could be employed to make it easier to get around Birmingham. It combines a range of data including traffic congestion, car parking availability and bus scheduling to provide real time location-specific tracking information through one platform.
For example, a would-be traveller located at Birmingham International Airport would be able to find the quickest and most fuel-efficient route to the Hagley Road, avoiding traffic jams and bottlenecks, and discover which is the nearest car park with available spaces. As people travel around the city the information would be constantly updated, linking public service travel information to in-car systems, allowing the driver to respond accordingly.
One of our key aims is to drive forward the use of digital technologies in order to increase prosperity, knowledge and quality of life of Birmingham’s citizens. These initiatives, in smart metering and intelligent transport, represent a couple of examples of how Digital Birmingham is doing just that with its many partners.