Peterborough hosts National Event to share learnings around Future Cities

Peterborough hosts National Event to share learnings around Future Cities

From one of the UK’s four Future City Demon­strat­ors to win­ning Smart City of the Year, Peter­bor­ough hos­ted an event for city lead­ers, aca­dem­ics and industry experts from across the UK to share this jour­ney, the suc­cess and the les­sons learnt.

Mak­ing Smart Cit­ies More Human’ was the title of a one-day con­fer­ence held at the Allia Future Busi­ness Centre, co-hos­ted by Innov­ate UK and Peter­bor­ough DNA, Peterborough’s Future Cit­ies pro­gram­me, delivered in part­ner­ship with Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil.

Future City Pro­grammes have become increas­ingly pop­ular in some of the world’s lead­ing cit­ies to help under­stand and address the increas­ing com­plex­ity of city life and its man­age­ment. In the UK, Innov­ate UK launched the Future Cit­ies Demon­strat­or pro­gram­me and awar­ded Peter­bor­ough a £3mil­lion grant to dis­cov­er the value that could be delivered to a city through integ­rat­ing city ser­vices and sys­tems.

Show­cas­ing Peterborough’s cit­izen cent­ric approach, del­eg­ates heard about the pro­jects and ini­ti­at­ives that have been delivered in the three years since the pro­gram­me com­menced and the value added for busi­nesses, future skills and the city being named Smart City of the Year at the Smart City World Con­gress Awards at the Smart City Expo in Bar­celona in Novem­ber 2015.

Mov­ing for­ward bey­ond the Demon­strat­or, del­eg­ates heard about Peterborough’s Cir­cu­lar City and Digit­al City aspir­a­tions which also included ‘Ques­tion and Answer’ Pan­el Ses­sions with some of the lead­ing people in the respect­ive fields includ­ing rep­res­ent­at­ives from Great­er Lon­don Author­ity, For­um for the Future, Cran­field Uni­ver­sity and BGL Group.

Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Pro­gram­me Dir­ect­or of Peter­bor­ough DNA, said; ‘Peter­bor­ough is really cre­at­ing a name for itself in the world of smart cit­ies, how­ever I’m often asked what exactly is a smart city and why is it rel­ev­ant to me? In a nut­shell it’s about con­nect­ing places, spaces, people and ser­vices in bet­ter and more intel­li­gent ways, embra­cing tech­no­logy as a way of achiev­ing great­er things.’

Building better cities: The future should not just be smart, but inclusive

In a world where driver­less vehicles cruise by, street lights mon­it­or CO2 emis­sions and lit­ter bins broad­cast break­ing news, it’s easy to lose sight of cit­ies as places for people. Digit­ally-enabled inter­ven­tions, powered by smart sensors and big data, can deliv­er a wealth of bene­fits for cit­izens. But if these inter­ven­tions are not executed in the right way, they can end up ali­en­at­ing the very people they are try­ing to help.

Some of our most switched-on urb­an hubs are exper­i­en­cing an iden­tity crisis as we begin to ques­tion what exactly ‘smart’ is. If smart cit­ies are to remain rel­ev­ant then they must deliv­er more respons­ive exper­i­ences. When it comes to solv­ing some of our biggest urb­an­isa­tion chal­lenges – such as access­ible health­care and income equal­ity – a city is more likely to achieve suc­cess­ful out­comes if it dir­ectly engages cit­izens in that decision-mak­ing and assess­ment pro­cess.

So how do we con­nect places, spaces, people and ser­vices in more intel­li­gent ways? City plan­ners and author­it­ies tra­di­tion­ally oper­ate a silo men­tal­ity when it comes to tack­ling key issues around ser­vice pro­vi­sion. There are dif­fer­ent depart­ments for dif­fer­ent dir­ect­or­ates; health, social care, edu­ca­tion, hous­ing, trans­port, and so on. Smart cit­ies tend to build on this silo approach; the danger here is that any smart inter­ven­tions lack cross-func­tion­al­ity and remain lim­ited in their scope. This can lead to lin­ear sets of data and ana­lys­is.

Break­ing down these silos is the first step to smart cit­ies deliv­er­ing bet­ter value. Fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of open dia­logue and col­lab­or­a­tion between author­it­ies, depart­ments and key stake­hold­ers will enable a more integ­rated, city-led approach to ser­vice pro­vi­sion. The more diverse this level of lead­er­ship is, the bet­ter – and that’s where the cit­izen comes in.

Factor­ing in a range of more human dimen­sions into city think­ing is key. Ima­gine a city as a ‘cat’s cradle’ archi­tec­ture of cit­izen inter­ac­tions. Under­stand­ing the nature of those inter­ac­tions, where they inter­sect and how they inter­lock with each oth­er, is import­ant. But we also need to work out how to influ­ence those inter­ac­tions for great­er effect so they deliv­er genu­ine value.

Ask­ing the right ques­tions of any smart inter­ven­tion injec­ted into this archi­tec­ture can help us under­stand these inter­ac­tions bet­ter. Why does a res­id­ent choose to over­ride cli­mate con­trol sensors installed in their home? How can a city be car­bon-neut­ral if lack of afford­able hous­ing is for­cing com­muters to make longer jour­neys into its centre? At what point does per­son­al data gath­er­ing become too invas­ive that people opt-out? By con­sid­er­ing the human per­spect­ive, this type of learn­ing can help determ­ine wheth­er the inter­ven­tion is right (or wrong), while offer­ing a clear­er assess­ment of cost again­st impact.

Going for­ward, smart cit­ies will increas­ingly depend on the par­ti­cip­a­tion of cit­izens in order to func­tion effect­ively, and this is some­thing we recog­nise with­in Peter­bor­ough. As one of only four UK Future City demon­strat­ors, we are pion­eer­ing a more inclus­ive approach for our urb­an envir­on­ment. We believe we are ahead of the curve in a num­ber of ways.

Our Peter­bor­ough DNA Smart City pro­gram­me is demon­strat­ing the poten­tial of human inter­ac­tion with open data by mak­ing it rel­ev­ant on a num­ber of levels. One example is the 25 weather sta­tions we have installed at schools across the city which are provid­ing rich data on cli­mate and air qual­ity. The data col­lec­ted not only helps raise pupils’ aware­ness of the imme­di­ate envir­on­ment around them, but doubles up as a teach­ing resource and met­eor­o­lo­gic­al aid for stat­utory agen­cies. This effect­ively enables young people to act as intel­li­gence gath­er­ing agents, bring­ing to life the con­cept of ‘smart cit­izenry’.

Another example is our Break­through Think­ing events. These are facil­it­ated work­shops where we bring diverse groups togeth­er face-to-face to think cre­at­ively about how to solve city chal­lenges around themes like zero waste. The focus is very much on ‘real world’ issues that cit­izens are exper­i­en­cing, wheth­er it’s redu­cing house­hold pack­aging waste, or pre­vent­ing old IT equip­ment from being dumped in skips. A Brain­wave Chal­lenge Fund offers up to £20,000 to turn these pro­posed solu­tions into real­ity.

Our ambi­tion to be the UK’s first cir­cu­lar city will only deep­en this col­lab­or­at­ive approach to cit­izen involve­ment. How we integ­rate smart strategies with cir­cu­lar think­ing is a huge chal­lenge, but both are mutu­ally rein­for­cing. Like smart, cir­cu­lar solu­tions are increas­ingly enabled and con­nec­ted by the Inter­net of Things, but we must ensure these inter­ven­tions are demo­crat­ic­ally owned from the bot­tom-up, rather than imposed from the top-down. And where bet­ter to chal­lenge the status quo than with the next gen­er­a­tion? We have already asked young people to ima­gine what a cir­cu­lar Peter­bor­ough might look like through our Smart Sup­pers events.

Har­ness­ing the power of cit­izens through a vari­ety of inter­ven­tions (human-to-human, human-to-machine, machine-to-human and machine-to-machine) will enable a city to build a smarter evid­ence base for decision-mak­ing. That’s not likely to be enough how­ever. How smart cit­ies meas­ure and eval­u­ate their per­form­ance going for­ward will be crit­ic­al, given grow­ing demands around trans­par­ency and gov­ernance.

Met­rics in this field are still emer­ging, but include: PD 8101 – a set of guidelines for smart city plan­ning; the ISO 37120 indic­at­or report­ing stand­ard for city ser­vices and qual­ity of life; and the PAS 181 smart city frame­work, which Peter­bor­ough helped lead on. Peter­bor­ough has also developed its own self-assess­ment tool, a matur­ity mat­rix, which rates cur­rent pro­gress again­st stated aims. An action plan and roadmap is also being cre­ated for Peterborough’s cir­cu­lar city work in con­junc­tion with key stake­hold­ers.

Lastly, remem­ber leg­acy. Smart cit­ies must look to provide not just scal­able solu­tions, but rep­lic­able mod­els that can be rolled out across oth­er urb­an envir­on­ments, regard­less of their size. Recog­nising the beha­vi­our of the city as a whole not only involves match­ing resource out­puts (such as waste heat) to resource inputs (loc­al dis­trict heat­ing net­works), but show­ing the bene­fit to ordin­ary people (afford­able warmth). Peter­bor­ough is plan­ning to cre­ate a series of applic­able blue­prints that can be repro­duced by any city aspir­ing to be smart, per­son­al and con­nec­ted.

Malaysia looks to Peterborough for smart city lessons

Malaysia looks to Peterborough for smart city lessons

A del­eg­a­tion of Malay­si­an smart city con­sult­ants recently vis­ited Peter­bor­ough to gain insight into the smart ini­ti­at­ives which led to the award of World Smart City 2015.

The Malay­sia Com­mu­nic­a­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Com­mis­sion (MCMC) sent a team of con­sult­ants to attend the 5th Annu­al Smart to Future Cit­ies and Urb­an IOT 2016 Con­fer­ence in Lon­don, fol­lowed by a spe­cial vis­it to Oppor­tun­ity Peterborough’s offices at the Allia Future Busi­ness Centre. Mem­bers of the Peter­bor­ough DNA Smart City team presen­ted the cit­izen cent­ric approach to its smart ini­ti­at­ives includ­ing the vis­ion for Peter­bor­ough to become the UK’s first cir­cu­lar city.

Delivered by Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, the Peter­bor­ough DNA Smart City pro­gram­me focuses on growth, innov­a­tion, skills and sus­tain­ab­il­ity with the goal of mak­ing Peter­bor­ough a bet­ter place to live, work and invest.

Mohd Irwan Mohamed, Act­ing Deputy Dir­ect­or of the MCMC said: “We have been very impressed by Peterborough’s work, par­tic­u­larly the col­lab­or­at­ive approach and ini­ti­at­ives involving young people. We look for­ward to shar­ing our les­sons with our team back in Malay­sia.”

Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough said:

The World Smart City Award 2015 put Peter­bor­ough well and truly on the inter­na­tion­al stage as a thought lead­er in smart city think­ing, demon­strated by vis­its such as this. We were delighted to host the Malay­si­an del­eg­a­tion and look for­ward to sup­port­ing them fur­ther with their smart city ini­ti­at­ives.’

Are millennials the answer to smart cities?

Are millennials the answer to smart cities?

Which way is the bus going?

This puzzle, fea­tured on Nation­al Geo­graph­ic, went vir­al because while it was con­fus­ing many people online, when it was fea­tured on a tv show 80% of chil­dren under 10 got the answer imme­di­ately.

It was also used in Peter­bor­ough DNA’s Break­through Think­ing Events. A three part facil­it­ated work­shop atten­ded by a cross sec­tion of busi­ness, pub­lic and third sec­tor com­munit­ies to exper­i­ence tech­niques which help remove the men­tal block­ers in order to think more cre­at­ively and gen­er­ate inter­est­ing ideas as to how to improve the city.

This approach feeds into the wider co-cre­ation mod­el to tack­ling city chal­lenges, which has recently been adop­ted in cit­ies all over the world from Par­is to Toron­to. How­ever, with the Nation­al Geo­graph­ic puzzle demon­strat­ing the impact of cog­nit­ive devel­op­ment, it also raises the prob­lems of the lack of engage­ment with young people about the future of our cit­ies. If cit­ies want to think dif­fer­ently about how to tackle city chal­lenges, we need to be ask­ing people who have a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing. Let’s empower the next gen­er­a­tion of change-makers.

Peter­bor­ough DNA has set about address­ing this chal­lenge and the res­ult is Smart Sup­per. Tak­ing inspir­a­tion from crowd-based micro-fund­ing ini­ti­at­ives such as Detroit Soup Night, the event is formed of loc­al Peter­bor­ough stu­dents (ages 11–18) work­ing in teams in order to pitch their ideas to loc­al decision makers and experts in the chal­lenge area who vote for their favour­ite idea, which is then awar­ded the pro­ceeds of the night.

These events are designed to be a fun and inspir­ing oppor­tun­ity to intro­duce young people to smart cit­ies themes and help pre­serve and nur­ture their cre­ativ­ity. From grasp­ing the chal­lenge areas such as sus­tain­able trans­port to cir­cu­lar eco­nomy, the stu­dents apply them in all sorts of nov­el ways and move on to pro­pos­ing ambi­tious but real­ist­ic ideas such as design­ing com­munity gar­dens from recyc­ling waste build­ing mater­i­als to urb­an min­ing. The oppor­tun­ity for the young people to present their smart city ideas allows loc­al decision makers to exper­i­ence the tal­ent that lies with­in the city. This has even res­ul­ted in bring­ing some of these ideas to life that might not have oth­er­wise been real­ised.

The major chal­lenges of our time are for­cing cit­ies all over to rethink how they plan their strategies for the future. All too often, it is easy to lose sight that the aim of Smart Cit­ies is to find and imple­ment the most effect­ive solu­tions to our pub­lic chal­lenges. At a time when cit­ies are asked to do more with dwind­ling resources, we can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get dif­fer­ent out­comes. When you do open the chal­lenge up and encour­age cit­izens to express their opin­ions, you break down one of the most com­mon bar­ri­ers of smart cit­ies and tap into this under­u­til­ised resource. There is no defin­it­ive mod­el for co-cre­ation in cit­ies, but I strongly believe that it provides the oppor­tun­ity for cit­izens, espe­cially young people, to let their voices be heard and set the agenda. Young people have some­thing to say about the future of our cit­ies, may­be we should start listen­ing.

If you haven’t already searched for the answer to the puzzle at the start of the blog, why not test the the­ory and ask a young per­son. If you know any oth­er cit­ies who are get­ting young people involved in Smart Cit­ies work, or would like to know more about what Peter­bor­ough DNA are doing, then please get in touch.

What does a future city look like?

By defin­i­tion, a city is a large human set­tle­ment; people are the very thing that make cit­ies what they are.

Cit­ies are a melt­ing pot of people with vari­ous per­son­al­it­ies, back­grounds and cul­tures. They thrive because of the great people liv­ing in them; their diverse com­munit­ies; and their bust­ling indus­tries.

Peter­bor­ough is the UK’s third fast­est grow­ing city by pop­u­la­tion, with 115 lan­guages spoken across the urb­an area. Rather than look at these chal­lenges as bar­ri­ers to becom­ing a future and more sus­tain­able city, we see our growth and diversity as one of our greatest assets.

Tech­no­logy enabled places

There’s no doubt though that, for some, the idea of future cit­ies evokes images of tech­no­logy enabled places where cars are driver­less, traf­fic lights are pro­grammed to give pri­or­ity to cyc­lists in wet weather and there’s no need for waste col­lec­tion trucks because our homes are con­nec­ted to a cent­ral­ised city waste shoot. Inter­net of Things is no longer the latest trend, it’s becom­ing the norm. With incred­ible advance­ments in tech­no­logy over the last few dec­ades, the pos­sib­il­it­ies for tech­no­logy-driv­en cit­ies are bound­less.

In mid-2015, plans for the world’s first smart city without humans was unveiled. A place where industry and aca­dem­ics could test new tech­no­lo­gies and innov­a­tions without inter­fer­ence from people.

While tech­no­logy is a won­der­ful thing and has cer­tainly trans­formed our lives over the years, what we often for­get is that behind all of this is a per­son with a great idea that is will­ing to make it hap­pen. People are what make our cit­ies smart! If we’re not build­ing cit­ies for people, who are we build­ing them for?

A people centred city

Here in Peter­bor­ough we put people at the heart of our future city pro­gram­me. With a mul­ti-cul­tur­al pop­u­la­tion of 190,000, each of our cit­izens is unique in their own way and can offer some­thing dif­fer­ent and new. Peter­bor­ough DNA, our future cit­ies pro­gram­me for the city, has fully embraced that con­cept by put­ting people at the very centre of our work.

For example, our Innov­a­tion Chal­lenge Fund and Test Bed Fund have allowed us to sup­port the great ideas of 11 start-up busi­nesses and SMEs in Peter­bor­ough. Ideas like Geor­gie Phone, a fam­ily of apps designed and developed by loc­al blind couple, Roger and Mar­garet Wilson-Hinds, helps the visu­ally impaired become more inde­pend­ent and mobile. So suc­cess­ful was the pro­ject that Geor­gie Phone won the Digit­al Inclu­sion Award at the Made Me awards in Birm­ing­ham.

Our series of Smart Sup­pers offer a plat­form for young people in the city to allow their voice to be heard by pitch­ing their solu­tions to chal­lenges faced by the city. The most recent win­ners, a team of 17 year old boys from Arthur Mel­lows Vil­lage Col­lege, are now work­ing with glob­al con­struc­tion com­pany Skanska to imple­ment their idea in the city.

So it’s not to say we don’t use tech­no­logy to enhance our city, but here in Peter­bor­ough we cer­tainly put our people first. If you’d like to know more about our future cit­ies work or to get involved, please con­tact us.

Peterborough wins a flurry of National Green Apple Awards

Peter­bor­ough was placed firmly on the envir­on­ment­al map with four awards won in total by a range of organ­isa­tions all work­ing towards the city’s Envir­on­ment Cap­it­al aspir­a­tions.

Coun­cil­lor Nigel North, Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil cab­in­et mem­ber for com­munit­ies and envir­on­ment cap­it­al, said: “This is excel­lent news and truly demon­strates Peterborough’s com­mit­ment to envir­on­ment­al aware­ness and cre­at­ing the UK’s Envir­on­ment Cap­it­al.”

The suc­cesses of these organ­isa­tions show the city is lead­ing the way in low car­bon prac­tices in busi­ness and devel­op­ment. Con­grat­u­la­tions to every­one involved.”

The inde­pend­ent char­ity Peter­bor­ough Envir­on­ment City Trust (PECT) won a Gold Award for Eco Tour­ism, which was awar­ded for its annu­al Green Fest­ival. The Peter­bor­ough Green Fest­ival is one of the biggest and longest run­ning envir­on­ment­al fest­ivals in the UK.

The 2015 event attrac­ted more than 10,000 par­ti­cipants and worked togeth­er with 38 part­ner organ­isa­tions across the city and sur­round­ing areas. Fun­ded by Travelchoice and the Arts Coun­cil, the festival’s theme this year was sus­tain­able trans­port.

Second up was Peter­bor­ough DNA’s Smart Sup­per pro­gram­me organ­ised by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil and Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough, which also won a Gold Award. Work­ing with stu­dents from sec­ond­ary schools across Peter­bor­ough, the aim of the pro­ject is to inspire and enable young people to develop innov­at­ive solu­tions to city chal­lenges around sus­tain­ab­il­ity.

Smart Sup­per is not just about cre­at­ing entre­pren­eurs of the future, it is about allow­ing young people to stand up and have their ideas heard.  It is a pro­ject that inspires the city’s young people through real life oppor­tun­it­ies.

Cross Keys Homes achieved Gold in Improv­ing Envir­on­ment­al Sus­tain­ab­il­ity. The hous­ing asso­ci­ation won this highly coveted award for achieve­ments in redu­cing its car­bon foot­print, and that of the homes it man­ages.

The award in par­tic­u­lar recog­nises the sol­ar pan­el pro­ject rolled out by Cross Keys Homes that has enabled 5,200 house­holds to bene­fit from free elec­tri­city. It has led to a sav­ing of 9,500 ton­nes of CO2emis­sions, as well as help­ing those ten­ants in fuel pover­ty to make real sav­ings.

Finally, Peter­bor­ough High­ways Ser­vices, a part­ner­ship between Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil and Skanska won a Sil­ver Award. As one of the industry’s lead­ing green con­tract­ors, Skanska is using its Peter­bor­ough High­way Ser­vices part­ner­ship with the coun­cil as an exem­plar of green tech­no­lo­gies and sus­tain­able tech­niques.

In the first year alone, Skanska exceeded its tar­get of divert­ing 95% of waste from land­fill. In addi­tion the organ­isa­tion is work­ing towards achiev­ing a zero car­bon eco­nomy with an annu­al reduc­tion tar­get of 5% of dir­ect emis­sions. Skanska are also now using a GPS sys­tem in all of its fleet to encour­age effi­cient fuel con­sump­tion and bet­ter green driv­ing tech­niques.

These awards show that, togeth­er, organ­isa­tions across Peter­bor­ough are achiev­ing great steps towards devel­op­ing and high­light­ing the city’s green cre­den­tials. It is fant­ast­ic to see this recog­nised nation­ally.

For more inform­a­tion, vis­it and