Between 2013 and 2014, Bristol City Council was awarded £5.3m funding to develop a ‘research and development test bed’ which was a part of the ‘Gigabit Bristol Programme ‘funded by DCMS/BDUK’s Super- Connected Cities programme. Bristol is Open (BiO) was set up to deliver this test bed as a joint venture between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol launched in April 2015, which has resulted in a Smart City Research and Development network platform of multiple communications technologies installed around the city. It can be described as a city-scale research infrastructure for the study of software defined networks, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data technologies that contribute to smart city solutions.
- Infrastructure – The BiO infrastructure, which was largely funded through the Super Connected Cities programme, consists of a fibre ring linked to a number of central nodes (located at We The Curious, Watershed, Engine Shed and the University of Bristol) and a wide area wireless mesh network. This infrastructure relies on a network of ducts that Bristol City Council bought from a cable TV company more than a decade ago. Subsequently, the ducts were refurbished and used to network Council buildings and beyond. The duct network was extended to reflect the city’s changing business footprint. The original vision for Bristol is Open was to have fully connected city research and development infrastructure where companies could test applications in a real-world environment – it was unlike anything else that existed in the world at the time. During its start-up phase, BiO has delivered a number of benefits for Bristol, and for the joint venture owners including: 1) Enhancing the city’s profile for being a leader in the smart city sector in the UK and internationally, helping Bristol win a number of awards: TM Forum Global Innovator of the Year; World Communication Awards ‘Smart City of the Year’; GLOMO for Smart City, Smart Cities 2019, Replicate Citizen Engagement, Smart Cities UK Highly Commended Leadership and top spot on Huawei’s Smart City Index. 2) Raised the profile of Bristol in collaborative working, and building a network of interlocking organisations. 3) As an asset, it helped organisations leverage grant funding e.g. EU Horizon 2020 Replicate and BigClouT projects and positioned the city for future research bids. 4) As a joint venture, the company has completed many technical trials and experiments that have helped it gain in depth understanding of technology integrations – for the University of Bristol this has supported their world leading 5G research.
- Work With Us – Bristol Is Open is welcoming a range of partners to the project, including large telecom and software companies, small hi-tech start-ups, public service delivery organisations, academics and others. Participants will get a slice of the network to work with. It is likely that the network itself will not always be on as we use it to develop a city operating system. The active, wireless and mesh network will be technology agnostic, built on open network principles, using software defined network technologies, that enable network function virtualisation.
- Bristol is Open Core Objective – Deliver through, the use of best ethical practices, productive innovation, capabilities and services that can drive a socially fair quality of life for all. Driving cross society collaboration, knowledge, data sharing and analytics management across the digital landscape in order to deliver services to the public authorities, residents, businesses, students & visitors to Bristol and the West of England. By taking a “Understand the Problem that Needs Solving” approach we will design solutions that utilise digital connectivity. Behaviours: In depth understanding the problem that needs solving; Being Citizen focused in all we do with digital technology at the heart of solutions; Understanding the human behaviour and propensity to adopt new solutions, especially technology based solutions; Study and resolve the Ethics, Data Privacy and Protections that impact the solutions; Creating a Learning, Education Up-skilling environment; Drive opportunities to create jobs; Develop practical solutions that work for the regional on the Bristol is Open “test to pilot” platform; Create collaboration opportunities; Be thought leaders and influencers that encourage investment in the region; Develop the business case that would drive scale and saving for all parties involved.
- City Operations Centre – A significant development is the implementation of the City Operations Centre to provide integrated monitoring and management of city services, including the following: Traffic management and control; Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) monitoring for safety and security; Telecare services; Alarm monitoring; Out of hours call handling. Data from the City Operation Centre will feed into the city’s open data platform. The data platform will open up the opportunity for businesses and citizens to develop and share information about the city, and to create new products or services.
- Citizen-Centric Solutions – A key element of Bristol’s smart city and innovation strategy is a focus on citizen-centric solutions. The city council, along with the Knowle West Media Centre and Ideas for Change, launched a programme called The Bristol Approach which aims to put communities at the heart of innovation. The Bristol Approach focuses on supporting people to work together to identify the knowledge, technology, and resources needed to tackle a problem. The city is focusing on the development of smart districts, where a more holistic view can be taken across issues like transport, energy, housing, and the potential use of new technologies and better data. One of the EU-funded programs is REPLICATE. This focuses on delivering an integrated smart district in the east of the city. Specifically, it aims to help people save money on their energy bills, explore new ways of travelling around, and reduce energy use and demand, and our impact on the environment. One citizen-driven project is the Damp Busters pilot. This seems to enable citizens to measure and combat the problem of damp in homes. It is extensively based on The Bristol Approach.
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