Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative and part of a city wide strategic partnership of more than 40 public, private and voluntary organisations
What is a Smart City?
According to the Wikipedia definition:
"A city can be defined as 'smart' when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance".
..From The Digital City - the focus is on creating a connected community that combines broadband provision and flexible, service-oriented computing infrastructure based on open industry standards. It aims to offer innovative e-services to meet the needs of businesses, citizens and public services which are transformed through ubiquitous connectivit.
Birmingham has achieved many of the Digital City characteristics. Birmingham City Council has invested in a high performing public services network and the major Business Transformation Programme has created new and improved outcomes for citizens and are accelerating the provision of ultrafast broadband through its 4G procurement and Digital District project.
..To Intelligent City - this makes use of the broadband infrastructure created in the Digital City. It brings ICT and innovation together for economic competitiveness and prosperity of its citizens and is strongly connected to the knowledge economy.
Birmingham has made considerable progress towards being an Intelligent City and has been recognised in 2011 by Intelligent Community Forum as one of the top Smart 21 internationally but still has some way to go. According to ICF standards, an intelligent community has:
- at least 70% broadband take-up by its citizens whereas in 2010 the West Midlands region had the lowest take-up nationally of only 62% (compared to 80% in the South East).
- at least 40% of knowledge workers (residents with at least college or undergraduate degree) whereas in 2009 only 24.6% of Birmingham's population fell into this group.
..To Smart City - it moves fully away from a focus on technology to the outcomes which will be delivered through technologies. It couldn't exist without a thriving broadband economy but it is putting equal weight on physical, social and environmental capital. It promotes a joined up approach and raises the profile of sustainable, entrepreneurial and open approaches and looks foremost at the economic and social health of the city rather than the public service that supports it.
Birmingham has many initiatives and partnerships aiming to improve the city and much good work is being done: Birmingham Science Park (Aston), Birmingham Forward, the Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Alliance, Environmental Partnership, Health Clusters, Business Birmingham are all in their own way working to make Birmingham a smarter city.
Progress so far
In recent years, the Digital Birmingham team have been building on the city's digital and intelligent credentials and is at the heart of driving forward Birmingham's Smart City approach across all mainstream city initiatives:
- people (skills & education)
- living (health, quality of life & well being)
We are developing specifications and programmes of work to help progress Birmingham's Smart City ambitions. Activities such as:
- Smart Cities Symposium in September 2011
- Birmingham Civic Dashboard was launched in October 2011
- Getting the most in next gen wireless procurement in November 2011
- Birmingham: A Ticket to a Smart Connected City in January 2012
- Making Open Data a Reality Part 1 and Part 2 in October 2011 & March 2012
- RT Hon Francis Maude launched 'Open for Business' in March 2012
As part of this vision we are looking at developing a ground breaking programme of activity that will deliver the benefits of open accessible and linked data by facilitating the release of the city and partner datasets coupled with access to real time data and city metrics. Key areas of focus include:
- Working with local universties, commercial suppliers and SMEs to explore a city platform that allows data to be exchanged and made accessible with localised information to stimulate new waves of applications and services.
- Facilitate data sharing between public, private (where appropriate) and third sector organisations that will enable the collection and aggregation of data at a local neighbourhood and city level and develop models to visualise trends, emerging issues and target interventions.
- Engage with business in the short term to understand their requirements for open data as well as create the environment to stimulate the creation of applications and the resources to support this.
- Stimulate commercial use of open data through developer competitions and procuring innovation initiatives. We are planning to launch an Open Data 'App' competition to challenge developers to create a new mobile application using city and partner data that will enhance city services and improve quality of life.