Smart cities

I know smart cities have been around for a long time. They may be considered a bit passé even yet things are different up here in Durham. Yes, Durham is a city but a very small one in comparison. The population accounts for less than ten per cent of the people who live in the county.

So what we need to talk about is not a smart city but rather a smart county and that is what we have been doing with the innovative launch of our ground-breaking project to put the region at the forefront of healthcare innovation. Durham has many things going for it and some that don’t. Loneliness and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to name a couple of the downsides and a low demographic churn to balance them out.

Being a small city though doesn’t stop us from being smart. Of course that means a lot of different things to different people and so when we were approached by a local lighting firm I thought it would be a good idea to get some other brains around the table to come up with some ideas?

Why a lighting firm? Well it is quite obvious when you think about it. They do the poles that hold up the lights. The poles can hold other stuff, such as connectivity and the lanterns themselves can have all sorts of interesting stuff built in that can smarten us up, sensors, cameras and the like.

We had the usual introductions, both to the people and the technology before we finally got around to business. In the end we managed four areas of interest, along the lines of problems we would like to solve rather than what the technology could do for us.

Durham has a problem with water safety. People keep falling into the river and drowning so we asked how can we make Durham a safe place in which to live?

Every other year the city enjoys Lumiere, the international light festival. Can we use get people to interact with the light, make Durham a permanent city of light and increase tourism?

This led us to think about mood enhancement of the city, perhaps creating an interactive light map and zoning the city. This could be useful for event management or to highlight different service provision, such as places of interest or restaurants. Not that restaurants aren’t places of interest.

Finally, we thought about that old chestnut of congestion management, both of people and traffic. We have a bit to go on and so I think I’ll have to write a report to garner some wider interest.

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