Enabling the Smart City

Hi everyone,

Well, it’s been a little while since my last blog. You’ve recently heard from Lindsay and Roy on the developments around our ambitious #CodeYork programme (you can read Lindsay’s blog here, and Roy’s blog here)… so a blog on connectivity is certainly overdue!

I was fortunate to attend Ovum’s Smart Cities ’16 event last week and hear from other cities in the UK, Europe and beyond on the great work being done to make cities “smarter”. During the event and networking sessions I heard many innovative approaches being taken by local authorities and private sector partners. Ideas ranged from:

  • The humble lamppost becoming a strategic smart asset
  • Developing better platforms to promote collaboration between industry and cities
  • Mapping the ‘smart city supply chain’ to demonstrate ROI
  • Creating digital social care services – and much more!

So how do we harness these ideas and bring them back to York for the betterment of the city?

It’s clear that becoming a Smart City is not something the Council can achieve in isolation; although we have an important role to play in encouraging and providing the digital landscape to allow these innovative ideas to happen.

Technology as the enabler

One key difference which allows York to stand out from other cities is our fantastic enabling technology and widespread availability of free Wi-Fi. As a major destination for millions of visitors every year, free Wi-Fi is enabling users to explore our historic city without using up precious data allowances.

I’m pleased to say that we were recently successful in securing £28,000 from Arts Council England to upgrade the Wi-Fi solution in York’s Explore Libraries. This brought a better, industry-standard solution to these important community hubs; meaning users can access superfast Wi-Fi speeds whilst enjoying the services on offer at local libraries.

This also creates a platform to introduce citizens to our CodeYork programme, granting an inclusive opportunity to learn new coding skills and build great online applications.

We’re seeing continued investment from telecoms providers, such as the UltraFibreOptic project, and Virgin Media, as well as the next phase of publicly-funded rural broadband delivered by BT Openreach, which is due to commence later this year.

The connectivity layer is the first step and we are unique in building this resilient foundation for the city’s digital growth. Access to better connectivity can enable significant change in our communities and set us on our way to becoming a truly ‘Smart City’.

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