Building a Smart City for a brighter Cardiff future

Reduced air pollution, improved journey times, increased energy efficiency, lower carbon emissions and better social care services are just some of the benefits
smartdigital technology and open data could bring to the lives of people living, working in and visiting Cardiff.

Smart technology already controls 15,000 connected LED streetlights in Cardiff, resulting in an £800,000 reduction in the citys annual energy bill, and parking is another area already monitored by smart technology which uses 3,300 sensors around the city to relay information back to a cloud based system. The data collected is then used to plan improvements to the management of the citys parking arrangements.

Now a new draft Smart City Road Mappublished by Cardiff Council sets out future aspirations to improve collaboration, drive efficiencies, improve services, harness the power of data and transform the city into a Smart City.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance, Cllr Chis Weaver, said: Cardiff is Waless strongest economy and the fastest growing major UK city outside London. That growth brings both opportunities and challenges, and our ambitious smart city roadmap sets out five key areas of focus, promoting collaborative working, data-driven decision making and expanded connectivity that will help make Cardiff more resilient to challenges and improve the day to day lives of citizens.

The council is already utilising smart technology for example we use energy data obtained from smart meters to help us use energy more efficiently across our buildings, sensors monitor air quality in the city and our LED lighting systems are saving money and reducing faults, but as technology develops and increasing amounts of data is gathered. We want to ensure we use it intelligently, and to its full potential.

Successful smart cities continually collaborate with citizens, businesses, universities, entrepreneurial start-ups, health boards and public bodies with a tech ready workforce and its own Internet Exchange we believe Cardiff is well positioned to reap the benefits of a new, smarter approach.

The five missions, identified in the roadmap are:

Mission 1: A collaborative city.

Allow innovators to submit smartideas to improve the city, host workshops, hackathons and focus groups to identify and solve smart city challenges, in partnerships with universities and businesses.

Mission 2: A data-driven city.

Using data analytics, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve decision making, providing better services and promoting innovation.

Mission 3: A connected city.

The council plans to work collaboratively with telecommunications companies, Welsh Government and other partners to improve fibre infrastructure, ensuring the smooth roll-out of 5G and enhanced mobile coverage.

Mission 4: A mobile and sustainable city.

The Smart City Roadmap sets out plans to reduce congestion and lower emissions by testing and optimising smart technology in living labson parts of the citys transport network helping to shape travel behaviour in the city.

Mission 5: A healthy city.

Establishing a Digital Health Boardwith partners and using health and social care data more effectively to improve outcomes for citizens.

Cllr Weaver added: Cardiffs population is expected to grow by approximately 20% by 2039 thats around 74,000 extra people using the citys transport and energy infrastructure. Smart technology can play an important role in keeping Cardiff moving and ensuring that the citys growth is sustainable.

Following work to address any issues around public trust and the rights of data holders, the council also intends to publish licenced open data sets that can be accessed by businesses, entrepreneurial start-ups and academics so that they can develop new products and services. This approach has been used successfully by organisations such as Transport for London (TfL) whose published data on areas such as air quality, tube times and travel disruption has resulted in hundreds of innovative new transport services and apps benefitting commuters.

We also want to investigate how technology can help people to live independently for as long as possible using new and established technology such as wearables, machine learning, virtual assistants and sensors. We think smart technology offers real opportunities in the area of health, care and well-being. Establishing a Digital Health Boardwith partners and using health and social care data more effectively to improve outcomes for citizens will play a key part in helping us understand just what might be achievable.

If approved at a Cabinet meeting next week, the council is expected to begin an eight-week public consultation on the draft roadmap, gathering the views of stakeholders and residents.