'Talkative' bus stops part of Manchester's £10m Smart City plan


‘Talkative’ bus stops and sensors in parks to encourage people to do more physical activity… sounds like dystopia? In fact it’s Manchester.

The heart of the Northern Powerhouse has just won £10m in funding for one of the biggest Smart City projects in the country, using sensors to build up data analysis from equipment like streetlamps, vehicles or home heating equipment.

The CityVerve project will demonstrate applications of Internet of Things technologies in four key areas: healthcare; transport; energy and environment; and culture and community, with a view to ‘providing a replicable model for other cities in the UK and beyond’.

Users taking control?

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: 'I’m delighted that the CityVerve Project is the winner of our Internet of Things Cities competition. The Project will bring real benefits to people who live and work across Manchester, one of our Northern Powerhouse cities.

'The UK’s tech sector is renowned for its creativity as well as pioneering research and development. The Manchester project will help the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of Internet of Things technologies and inspire others around the world to create smarter cities.’

Key features of the project include:

Talkative bus stops - 'Flag and pole’ bus stops will be fitted with location-based services, sensors/beacons, mobile apps and intelligent digital signage. People will check-in to their bus stop and let bus operators know they are waiting for their service.

Smart lighting - To reduce car use, alternative forms of transport need to be attractive and safe. Smart lighting, in addition to connected street lighting, will help address this.

Bike sharing - The Manchester Corridor through-route will soon become bus and bike only. Bike sharing schemes can be expensive to install and maintain, and so an alternative is to use Internet of Things enabled bikes in a crowd-sourced and maintained, secure bike sharing service. It will also include ‘e-cargo’ bikes to make ‘last-mile’ deliveries on the Corridor.

Smart air-quality monitoring - Street furniture and connectivity infrastructure such as lamp posts and street cabinets on the Manchester Corridor will monitor air quality at different heights and locations. Information will be passed to those with health conditions and made generally available to support walking options and routes.

The project is led by Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and was selected out of 22 entries involving 34 cities across the UK.

The Government and Innovate UK offered up to £10m for the competition as part of a wider £40m investment in Internet of Things.

The demonstrator project will be located in the Manchester Corridor, Manchester’s innovation district: 243 hectares with a 60,000-strong workforce.

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