The Manchester CityVerve project under the project management of Nick Chrissos, head of innovation at Cisco, is beginning to take shape.
The Government and Innovate UK offered up to £10 million for a single collaborative research and development project to demonstrate the capability of applications at scale across a city region.
The site of the project is the Manchester Corridor, also known as Manchester’s innovation district: 243 hectares, 60,000-strong workforce, of which over 50 per cent are employed in knowledge-based sectors. It also houses 72,000 students, and the largest clinical academic campus in Europe. The Corridor is home to many innovative science and technology businesses, world-class research centres, universities, and an NHS Trust, it has a large-scale infrastructure investment committed to 2020.
CityVerve aims to address barriers to applications of the internet of things in smart cities, including city governance, network security, user trust and adoption, data handling, replicability, scalability and justifying investment. It will combine tech and business model innovations with the new integrated powers and responsibilities created by devolution.
Nick told Smart Buildings Magazine, "We officially started the project in July this year, and Cisco is working with BT and Siemens plus an NHS Trust, universities and a number of start up and SME's to build the infrastructure which will make this area of Manchester fully connected and smart."
The project has two years to deliver and Nick says that by December this year a number of KPI's will be in place so that evaluation can begin on the project.
Six legacy buildings are being connected to the network and there will also be new buildings that have new BMS systems that will be able to feed data back and give a picture of energy management throughout the project.
One of the most exciting aspect of the project is that from February, there will be a monthly competition for start ups to add solutions to the project, using the data that is being generated. There will be 20 competitions, worth £10,000 for each project, which will potentially create jobs and improve the environment of the area.
The project aims to provide replicable, scalable outcomes, that will work across all cities and will affect peoples lives in positive ways. For example it is hoped that there will be an improvement in peoples health, through monitoring air quality and alleviating breathing difficulties.
Nick is clearly excited about the possibilities, "We hope to impact peoples lives in many ways, and Cisco has a collaborative research team which will work with the other companies and organisations on the project to achieve meaningful results."
Nick also believes that the project will be a prime targets for hackers, so security provision will be at the forefront of the project.
The update on CityVerve comes on the back of some new research that says the commercial real estate industry has a critical role to play in attracting more tech businesses to Manchester.
WiredScore says that Manchester is already thriving as the UK’s largest tech cluster outside of London.
The report says that confidence in the city is high, with just under three quarters (73%) of northern technology professionals professing confidence in the local economy. However, a third (32%) of northern tech workers believe that more businesses will be attracted to the city if landlords were able to offer greater/improved connectivity.
Flexible/short-term leases for start-ups and incentives for tenants were also cited as key factors in what makes Manchester an attractive tech hub (58% and 42% respectively).
The rise of co-working as a financially efficient way of working was also identified, with 23 percent saying they would like to see more shared office space available to businesses.
The local talent pool, the city’s industrial heritage, and its commercial real estate prices are all cited as additional drivers (69%, 65%, and 58% respectively).