£10 Million has been allocated to a project (starting early this year) that will aim to deliver a smart city platform across Reading, Bracknell, Wokingham and West Berkshire benefiting residents and employees, and encouraging economic development. A communications platform will provide a low powered wide area network (LPWAN), the base platform for the Internet of Things, and open up huge opportunities for the low cost deployment of smart devices for business, developers and local authorities to use.
In addition to the LPWAN network, there will also be a data platform built around the existing open data service. The key will be using British Hypercat standards approach to ensure an open system that allows data to be shared between systems with sufficient security. This will enable the smart city cluster to grow organically with new systems added, but without ‘lock-in’ to an overall smart city platform supplier. A series of smart tech solutions will be built on this platform, including air quality monitoring using a wide dispersal of low cost monitors. The project will be delivered in 3 main stages, the 1st stage being the main capital investment for the smart city platform and air quality monitors, and the 2nd and 3rd stages being a two-phase capital investment in the IoT smart city sensors and supporting data systems.
To ensure innovation whilst also meeting procurement requirements, the funding will be offered in competitive calls requiring a level of match, mirroring the approach used by Innovate UK. This will deliver a range of projects within the Reading, Bracknell, Wokingham and West Berkshire areas around transport, energy, environment and assisted living, with a package focused on small scale funding for start-ups. It is hoped that the allocation of LGF core capital funding will be a catalyst for both the public sector and large companies looking to engage in smart city opportunities.
The Local Growth Fund will see £9,952,654 invested over a 3 year period.
- Economic: Attracting funding for research, business investment and start-ups in delivering smart products
- Social: The project has the potential to deliver an assisted living element, which will directly improve the lives of those with mobility challenges
- Environmental: The project has the potential to deliver significant environmental benefits in that improved infrastructure network management services will smooth vehicle flow, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions and air quality risk