Sponsored by
Brightly Software
Project Centre


The public realm is defined as the space around, between and within buildings that are publicly accessible, including streets, squares, parks, footpaths, pavements and open spaces. These are the everyday spaces that we move through and socialise within, the places where we live, work and play. Approximately 85% of residents feel that the quality of public space and the built environment has a direct impact on their lives and on the way they feel. A smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Multiple elements – including people, processes, services and things – come together in a smart space to create a more immersive, interactive and automated experience for a target set of people and scenarios.

PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how to harness innovation, technology, data science, design and best practice to create the next generation of smarter spaces and places in our cities and regions.

Qualifying delegates include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, planners, place makers, architects, green space managers, urban designers, highways & street scene, transport & mobility and high streets & regeneration professionals from councils and local authorities (city, borough, metropolitan, district, county and combined); people and place partnerships; developers, landowners and creators of privately owned public spaces; prime contractors and city centre management companies; DfT, DEFRA, MHCLG, EA and supporting governmental bodies; transport authorities, highways agencies and public transport operators; civic organisations and community groups; and other key players from the public realm ecosystem with responsibility for managing, maintaining and operating our streets, squares, forecourts, parks, pathways, retail centres, car parks, airports, ports, travel hubs, hospitals, housing estates, campuses, communal gardens and the assets contained within these public or semi-public spaces.

Core themes range from connected LED street lighting, intelligent lighting of buildings, smart IoT enabled lamp posts and litter bins, smart urban furniture (benches, chairs, tables etc) and greening solutions (living walls and pillars, green corridors etc), and utilizing data to transform unused or ‘dumb’ spaces, to digital displays and signage (for streets, shop fronts, parks etc), interactive road crossings, parking and traffic management, civil enforcement technologies, outdoor fitness systems, innovative playscapes, and the future role of 5G in the proliferation of digital technology in the public realm. We explore deploying digital technologies, data driven insights and progressive design to support a variety of objectives (e.g. bringing nature and the environmental benefits to the built environment; managing the night-time economy to shape places; addressing crime and safety; reducing street clutter; managing kerbs and drainage; calming traffic, and promoting cycling and active travel; improving maintenance regimes; encouraging behavioural change and inclusivity; increasing commercial opportunities; creating clusters, flexible workspaces and innovation districts; protecting legacy and heritage etc) and also examine how innovation has helped the public realm to implement temporary changes and adapt to a Covid and post-Covid world (e.g. predicting footfall with technologies designed to monitor density; optimising navigation routing to help balance necessary urban traffic with pedestrianised zones; maintaining social distancing with electronic tags, track and tracing applications, and CCTV; repurposing spaces and recovering high streets; using 3D visualisation and digital twins to understand the implications of change).

PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024 will be hosted at The Catalyst in Newcastle on Wednesday 10th July, and follows on from highly acclaimed 2023 (Manchester) and 2022 (London) editions! Delegates will hear from industry movers, shapers and disruptors during initial rapid-fire thought leadership presentations, before moving on to in-depth consultations with experts and peers during the roundtable discussions. In addition, the Smart Class will feature up to 3 keynote presentations from major buyer side stakeholders (e.g. a progressive local authority, place partnership, POPS creator, development corporation or public body of government) giving real world insight into their collaborative initiatives, digital journeys and adoptions of transformative technology and design. This half day in-person event is free to attend for bona fide delegates satisfying our registration criteria.

Previous Public Realm & Urban Spaces Smart Classes have attracted senior delegates from stakeholders such as:

Active Travel England • Aecom • AND London • Arcadis • Ashfield District Council • ATCO Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council • Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council • Bedford Borough Council • Belfast City Council • Birmingham City Council • Bolton Council • Brent Council • Brighton & Hove DRP • Bristol City Council • Bury Council • Canterbury City Council • CityCo Manchester • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council • City of London Corporation • Connected Places Catapult • Coventry City Council • Cumberland Council • Cumbria LEP Places Strategy Group • Derbyshire County Council • Design Council • Design South East • Dorset Council • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council • Ealing Council • Eastleigh Borough Council • East Riding of Yorkshire Council • Elementa Consulting • Epping Forest District Council • GL Hearn • Gloucestershire County Council • Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service • Great Places Housing Group • Greater Manchester Combined Authority • Hackney Council • Harrow Council • Herefordshire Council • Hertfordshire County Council • Homes England • Hull City Council • IBI Group • Islington Council • Keep Britain Tidy • Kent County Council • Knowledge Quarter Liverpool • Landplanning Consultants • Leeds City Council • Leeds Sustainability Institute • Lewisham Council • Liverpool City Region Combined Authority • London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham • London Borough of Barnet • London Borough of Enfield • London Borough of Lambeth • London Borough of Newham • London Borough of Tower Hamlets • London Borough of Waltham Forest • London Legacy Development Corporation • Mace • Manchester City Centre BID • Meinhardt • Milton Keynes Council • Ministry of Defence • Momentum Transport • National Grid • Network Rail • Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council • North Ayrshire Council • North Lincolnshire Council • North Somerset Council • North West Net Zero Hub • Nottingham City Council • Nottinghamshire County Council • Norman Rourke Pryme • Oxford City Council • Oxfordshire County Council • Peabody • Pembrey Airport • PJA • Preston City Council • Project Centre • Public Practice • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park • Robin Buckle Urban Design • Rossendale Borough Council • Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council • Sandwell Council • Savills • Sciontec Developments • Sevenoaks District Council • Shaftesbury • Sheffield City Council • Shropshire Council • Smart Transport Hub • Southend-on-Sea City Council • St Helens Borough Council • Suez • Sunderland City Council • Surrey County Council • Sustrans • Swindon Borough Council • Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council • 31ten Consulting • Transport for Greater Manchester • Transport for London • University College London • Urban Design London • Urban Foresight • Waterman Aspen • Westminster City Council • West Yorkshire Combined Authority • Wigan Council • Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council • WSP etc

Previous presentations addressed the following topics:

KQ Liverpool – Creating a world leading innovation district and developing a place making strategy that connects culture and innovation through art and public realm • Paddington Village – Importance of visible transformation and creating a destination • The Spine and HEMISPHERE scheme – Healthy buildings and eco trailblazers • Encouraging sustainable commuting through open access sites for cyclists and pedestrians • The role that public realm and urban spaces can play in delivering inclusive innovation and “Being a Better Neighbour” to surrounding communities in the Liverpool City Region • Creating vibrant, healthy, people focused public realm – Fostering a sense of community, promoting inclusivity, enhancing quality of life, and contributing to local economies • Competing demands of the urban environment – Vehicular movement, water management, services, access, maintenance, air quality and local micro climates • Biodiversity net gain in development and the urban greening factor • The 15 minute city, liveable neighbourhoods, school streets and parklets • Strategic urban design and connected public realm strategies • Designing healthy places – Case studies: Moreland Street (Islington), Old Bethnal Green Road (Tower Hamlets), Eastcote Town Centre, Hammersmith Grove, Dartford Brewery Square and Portland Road (Worthing) • Hull – Culture led regeneration from the built environment to the lived experience: Process, projects and methodology • Using location, UK city of culture status, history and architectural & cultural assets to transform perceptions and create a vibrant, visitor economy • Applying behavioural insights intelligence to soften and create a space that works for all • Building the behaviours of a space that’s not yet built • HSHAZs – Transforming the retail offer with a high street heritage action zone • Deploying intelligent lighting, app controlled fountains, projections and animation in an urban park • Bright and connected public spaces – How, through the use of IoT, councils are able to create connected systems which deliver better outcomes for the communities they serve • Managing, maintaining and optimising public realm assets with a smart asset management solution – From bus stops, street lighting, CCTV and waste bins to carriageways, street furniture, greenspaces and trees • Leveraging strategic asset management for carbon capture and ESG in the public realm • “The City Welcome” – How are CityCo, The Manchester BID and the new Accommodation BID working towards a cleaner, greener, safer and friendlier Manchester in a city where private and public spaces blend, objectives can clash, control is restricted and the public purse is under pressure? • Business crime reduction partnerships – Delivering a business intelligence led secure network to manage risk and offenders, escalate issues, challenge service issues and solve problems • BID cleansing priorities 2023-2028 – From litter picking and hazardous waste removal to graffiti and greening • Street engagement hubs – Working together to support people off the streets • Building better places together – Why is early community engagement critical when it comes to place-shaping, what are the barriers and how can they be overcome? • The multitude of potential engagement projects in the public realm – e.g. urban and rural development consultations, spatial development strategies, masterplans and co-design, neighbourhood regeneration, highways and infrastructure, public transportation and station design, low traffic neighbourhoods, noise action plans, EV charging, solar and wind farms, drone transportation, driverless cars, canal and river conversation, flood resilience, events, street furniture placement, post-covid recovery, air quality and congestion, green prescribing/urban forestry, pocket parks and park improvements, controlled parking zones, active travel, school safety travel schemes, house building, circular economy, heritage and conservation, place-naming etc • Harnessing the capabilities of digital-led tools and data to foster community participation • A 4 step approach to successful engagement and case study examples: Cairngorms National Park; Quality of Life Foundation + Harlow and Gilston; Catford Town Centre; Network Rail – ExploreStation; East Bristol – Liveable Neighbourhoods; North Finchley Town Centre • Projects in the City of London – How to create enhanced and people focussed environments through intelligent lighting and temporary greening and seating measures • City lighting strategy and using remotely operated lighting to complement the look of historic buildings, improve energy usage and environmental impact, tackle light pollution, improve well being and protect wildlife – without compromising safety and security • ‘Culture Mile’ lighting and illuminance case study (Beech Street, Tunnel array) • HULAB objectives and sustainable principles for connecting urban lighting policy and implementation with citizen health • Parklets and the greening and seating measures delivered during the pandemic to support social distancing and businesses in making the city more welcoming – How these safer and flexible outdoor spaces can contribute to supporting businesses in their return to work, the city’s post-pandemic recovery and help create a destination city • Covid-19 ‘City Streets’ interventions – Philpot Lane, Middlesex Street, Cheapside, Creechurch Lane, Ludgate Broadway, West Smithfield • Permanent installations in the ‘City Cluster’ – Working with BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) • Co-design with local community – Moor Lane Community Garden • Lewisham town centre regeneration – A holistic approach to public realm through commissions at three different scales for Lewisham Market, Lewisham High Street and an overarching urban design strategy • Engaging with diverse local communities and businesses, collaborating with local stakeholders and landowners, and quick wins (small interventions, market stall trials, improvements in waste management, cleaning and maintenance, temporary planters etc) • Art and culture, creating an urban design vision and masterplan, public realm visioning (incl. biodiversity gain and green grid, air quality improvements and carbon net zero) and funding • SHIFT: London’s living testbed and building the world’s 1st ‘Inclusive Innovation District’ at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park • An inclusive innovation model, UK innovation districts and delivering a regional approach to inclusive economy • ‘Movement in Cities’ current innovation trials at QEOP – AI-powered spatial analytics for traffic management and urban planning/using AI to monitor mobility modes across the Park (Flyma), last mile delivery: E-Walker (UPS/Freightlab), construction last mile logistics (Murphy’s/TfL), local deliveries last mile business suppliers (Signorelli), local last mile consumer deliveries (CDT/Poplar Harca), bike locks with Mosa, mass movement e-transit, robotic deliveries • ‘Health in Cities’ current innovation trials – Testing hearing wellness in venues: Mumbli, air quality trials with Aeternum, active travel optimisation for all feasibility study and micro mobility hub, Bikeworks e-scooter accessibility improvements • ‘Climate Emergency in Cities’ current innovation trials – Water temperature monitoring sensors/impact of urban heat index on rivers (UCL), urban roof farming and bio-solar research (UCL), green infrastructure, decarbonising district heat network • Circular high streets, borough integration (incl. citizen scientists, digitisation of planning, retrofit housing, local innovation corridors, creative enterprise zone, citizen assembly, community wealth building etc) and SHIFT 2025 objectives (5 year strategy complete, international recognition as a leading urban innovation testbed, digital twin developed, research programme established, innovation trials pipeline developed etc) • Growth, drivers for change and the importance of public realm for city centres: A case study of central Milton Keynes – Practice and opportunities • Repurposing existing public realm in MK such as the Station Square key gateway space and significant new office and residential development • Linking destinations through improved public realm: Midsummer Boulevard East – temporary transformation and workshopping a series of ‘rooms’; Theatre District mobility hub; Midsummer Boulevard at the centre of a 15 minute neighbourhood; Pedalling culture – promoting active travel to access and connect cultural infrastructure across the city; Walking trails as a new way of exploring urban spaces • Smart street furniture – helping meet a carbon reduction agenda • A rigorous and uniform approach to the design of the public realm in CMK – CMK’s handbook for the public realm and new HQ with publicly accessible space • Saxon Gateway – A new way of providing shared communal space • The business case for smart street lighting – The qualitative and quantitative benefits of adding smart controls to streetlights and outdoor lighting • What is a ‘smart’ streetlight? How does CMS address local authority money, safety/security and sustainability concerns? Which local authorities in the UK spend most on street lighting (Birmingham, Leeds, Surrey, West Sussex, Cambridgeshire, London, Coventry, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Essex, Knowsley) and which local authorities are already realising the benefits of adopting smart street lighting (Hertfordshire County Council, Doncaster and Suffolk County Council use cases)?etc.

Testimonials and feedback:

“Really enjoyed the day and thought it was very well run – thank you! Really interesting to see how things are done differently in different regions and great insight into engagement possibilities and improvement”
Infrastructure Project Manager, West Yorkshire Combined Authority

“Thank you for organising this fruitful session. All sections were informative”
Transport Planner, West Yorkshire Combined Authority

“Many thanks for an engaging and thought-provoking session”
Assistant Director of Regeneration, Ashfield District Council

“All of the roundtable discussions were valuable”
Executive Director Place, Ashfield District Council

“Thanks for the invite, it was a very interesting session with great speakers”
Regeneration Officer, Bury Council

“Many thanks for the invite. It was a fascinating class and I hope to see you again soon in Coventry”
Urban Design Officer, Coventry City Council

“Today, I was part of Smart Classes’ Public Realm & Urban Spaces event where I was invited to present obo Hull. There were insightful and thought provoking speakers and interesting debates in the roundtable break out sessions. Lots to learn and share”
Head of Culture, Place and City Centre, Hull City Council

“Organisation of the event was excellent”
Planning Officer, Preston City Council

“Helpful programme content and targeted at the right level”
Urban Design Officer, St Helens Borough Council

“I thoroughly enjoyed the session, it was very informative”
Senior Planning Officer, Sunderland City Council

“An overall excellent event experience”
Project Development Manager for Major Projects, Wigan Council

“It was a pleasure to talk about the way we work together in Manchester”
Partnership Director, CityCo Manchester

“Great to be a part of the event. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues working in urban development and place-based innovation”
Project Specialist, Urban Foresight

“Excellent opportunities to network
Landscape Architect, Arcadis

“Always a valuable source for new insights and contacts”
Director, Association of Transport Coordinating Officers

“Excellent event. Liverpool (Innovation District) was most relevant and interesting”
Strategic Development Manager and Travel Hubs Lead, Transport for Greater Manchester

“Informative presentations and engaging roundtable discussions”
Transport Strategy Officer, Transport for Greater Manchester

Yesterday’s event was really insightful, and it has been a pleasure to contribute to these interesting discussions”…“Thank you for the details on the next event. It was a great experience to attend the last event in London so will definitively recommend!”
Group Manager, Major Programmes and Projects – Policy and Projects Division, City of London Corporation

“Inspiring, really enjoyable and well organised, many thanks”
Senior Urban Designer, Sustrans

“I found the conference super insightful. Made you question how we’ve been managing public spaces for years and learn of innovative ways of doing it better going forward. I definitely got value out of this event and networked with organisations which I believe will help our clients to take the next step into creating more sustainable, digital and community driven mixed-use developments”
Project Manager Architecture & Placemaking, Mace

“Thank you for bringing this Smart Class to my attention!”
Placemaking Group Manager, Surrey County Council

“All the presentations and roundtables were valuable”
Senior Urban Designer, Hackney Council

“The Smart Class was an invaluable opportunity to learn, ask questions and engage with innovators and groups with great stories to tell. I believe I will have lots more fascinating conversations on the back of this session. Thank you!”
Associate Principal Lighting Design Consultant, Elementa Consulting

“Great seminar, Mark and team! Thank you”
Head of Innovation – SHIFT, London Legacy Development Corporation

“Programme Content was helpful and relevant”
Transport Planner, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

“The day was interesting, presenting a variety of projects. It was good to see technology companies as there is quite a gap in innovation in public realm design. Thanks again for hosting”
Director of Masterplanning, Meinhardt UK

“It was a pleasure attending, and really enjoyed the presentations
Director of Digital Transformation, 31ten Consulting

“It was a great event, some really interesting presentations and ideas with good discussions with attendees throughout the day. Thanks for putting it on!
Director of Insight and Research, AND London

“Thank you so much for the excellent experience. Looking forward to the next Smart Classes
Urban Spaces Engineer, Sustrans

“Engaging roundtable discussions and excellent opportunities to network
Landscape and Urban Design Associate Director, WSP

“The presentation and roundtable on Lewisham has led to a potential sales lead
Local Authority Strategy Development Manager, Keep Britain Tidy

“Well done for organising! Great seminar to talk about Lewisham project and meet people interested and involved in public realm schemes. Thank you all
Associate Landscape Architect, Project Centre – part of Marston Holdings (Innovation Sponsor)

“Really great event last week
Senior Client Solution Architect, Brightly (Innovation Sponsor)

“I find the events very informative and look forward to attending again in the future…Really enjoyed this Public Realm & Urban Spaces Smart Class and the conversations with the attendees, keep these events coming!
Client Engagement Director, Brightly (Innovation Sponsor)

“Thoroughly enjoyable! Good contacts made!”
Global Account Manager, Telensa (Innovation Sponsor)

“Thanks for a great event last Thursday in London and to the attending innovators from cities, councils and the private sector that we met who were both engaged and engaging. Telensa considered it a very worthwhile event and we look forward to collaborating in the near future
UK & Ireland Sales Manager, Telensa (Innovation Sponsor)

“Thank you for an excellent event! I really loved it and found it very beneficial. Really hope we can get involved in more Smart Classes in the future!”
Business Development Manager, Commonplace (Innovation Sponsor)

“Thank you to everyone who engaged with our presentation”
Commonplace Marketing Team (Innovation Sponsor)

“Always a pleasure to attend and present at the Smart Classes events”
Solutions Manager, Brightly, a Siemens company (Innovation Sponsor)

“Great to be back in Manchester yesterday for the Smart Classes’ Public Realm & Urban Spaces event as expert innovators at Brightly. Talking all things asset management, IoT and carbon capture, and how councils are able to create connected systems and enable smarter assets which deliver better outcomes for the communities they serve. Thanks for having us Mark and team!”
Account Director, Brightly, a Siemens company (Innovation Sponsor)

“I really enjoyed today’s Smart Class – as always, a great selection of speakers”
Technical Director (North Region), Project Centre, part of Marston Holdings (Innovation Sponsor)


Keynote presentation from Owain Lloyd-James, Head of Local Government, Communities and Places Strategy at Historic England: Presentation title and summary to follow.

- Owain Lloyd-James

Co-presented keynote from John Seager, Estates Director at Newcastle Helix, and Michelle Percy, Director of Investment and Growth at Newcastle City Council: Presentation title and summary to follow.

- John Seager, Michelle Percy

Innovator thought leadership presentation on behalf of Brightly, a Siemens Company: Presentation title & summary + speaker details to follow.


Innovator thought leadership presentation on behalf of Project Centre, part of Marston Holdings: Presentation title & summary + speaker details to follow.


Further keynote and innovator presentations to be confirmed shortly! 



  • 8:30 am - 9:00 am Registration, Networking and Refreshments
  • 9:00 am - 9:30 am Introduction and Opening Keynote
  • 9:30 am - 10:40 am Expert Presentations
  • 10:40 am - 11:00 am Keynote Speaker 2
  • 11:00 am - 12:40 pm Roundtable Discussions and Consultations
  • 12:40 pm - 1:00 pm Keynote Speaker 3
  • 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Close and Lunch Networking

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Supported by
Newcastle Helix
Newcastle City Council

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