‘Smart city’ aspires to be UK’s green capital

SUSTAINABLE CITY  Ambitious plans have been chalked out to transform Peterborough into a smart city.

An exciting new collaboration between leading engineering and planning consultants aims to transform a major urban area in the United Kingdom into a leading sustainable city.

These changes for the city of Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire (eastern England), seek to establish its place as a prime environmental location and to directly improve the quality of life for people living and working in the city.

With 80 per cent of the UK population living in urban areas, cities across the country are increasingly looking at new ways to become ‘smarter’, in a green sense. Experts say lessons can be learned from looking around the globe at the new intelligence being infused into the way that cities work. The collaboration from international engineering and environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning and Green Ventures has outlined schemes to launch a sustainable city visualisation project for Peterborough that will initially focus on building a new online platform to monitor and analyse data on the city’s energy, water, transport and waste systems.

“Ambitious plans to transform the city and connect the city systems is central to increasing the quality of life for the proposed extra 20,000 jobs, 25,000 homes and 40,000 people that will be in the city by 2021 compared with 2001,” said a spokesperson.

“Data from a web portal will be used to produce a real-time, integrated view of the city’s environmental performance. This will enable the various agencies to streamline and make more effective, ecologically minded decisions and strategies to maximise sustainability,” the spokesperson added.

For the first time, utilities, government agencies and local businesses will be able to share information for a more comprehensive view of the city’s eco-system. This will allow more informed decisions about resource use along with suggestions to improve home water and energy use.

Commenting on the project, Trevor Gibson, a director at the urban regeneration company Opportunity Peterborough, said, “Technological advances allow cities to collate data and interpret it in ways not achieved before, and Peterborough is going to be at the forefront of taking advantage of this intelligence. Peterborough is using recognised expertise that will enable us to meet the sustainability challenges and achieve the city’s aspirations as environment capital.”

Fifteen years ago, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire was made one of four UK environment cities by the Department of the Environment. It is set to become one of  a cluster of IBM ‘smarter cities’ being developed around the world. “New technologies are capable of understanding and connecting city-scale systems, so they can sense, analyse and integrate data, enabling the city to respond intelligently to the needs of citizens,” said Ian Abbott-Donnelly, European chief technical officer for IBM Big Green Innovations.
Amy Savage, senior engineer at Royal Haskoning consultants, said, “The aim of the project is to provide Peterborough with a big picture overview of its current sustainability performance, coupled with the right level of detail to identify how organisations and individuals could better work together and where the city can best prioritise investment. 

The interactive and animated style of presentation of environmental data will be a great way to capture the enthusiasm of businesses and the community and will support Peterborough’s ambition to create a more sustainable environment.” Among the major features of the Peterborough project are the creation of a vibrant and attractive city centre;  sustainable economic and integrated growth;  and a diverse business community, supported by an improved skills and knowledge base, fit for the global economy.

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