National and Devolved Politics

11.07.18

Newcastle council proposes ideas for UK-leading ‘smart city’

Proposals to transform Newcastle into the UK’s leading ‘smart city’ could be given the green light at a Cabinet meeting next week.

Discussing the proposals on 16 July, Newcastle City Council will consider a report which sets out ambitious plans for Newcastle to build on its successes and become a “major player in the digital world.”

The council aim to use smart technology to help support the vulnerable in their own homes, manage the city’s traffic to ease congestion, improve air quality as well as transform and improve council services through the use of sensors and data.

The news comes after a landmark announcement from the government last week that a £7.5m digital innovation fund will be introduced, in a bid to help councils transform their online services.

Included in the fund is a ‘Local Digital Declaration’ which encourages councils to share their digital innovations across the public sector. More than 50 councils, government departments, and partner organisations are signed up to the pledge so far.

The Cabinet report due to be discussed on Monday said: “Used well, new technologies can bring people and communities closer together, and can catalyse the growth of tech and digital businesses in the city, further crystallising our position as a leading tech hub. That’s why we want to be leaders in this and become a truly digital ‘smart’ city.

“Digital provides increasing opportunities in employment and skills development for people within the City and those looking to invest or relocate.”

Given the high-quality backbone infrastructure and assets already in place, the document goes on to say, there are “even greater opportunities for the City and the Council which are not being exploited, and where a step change in approach can deliver bigger benefits for all.”

If approved, the council will look to secure a technological partner in Autumn and continue to build on the infrastructure required to improve connectivity and sensor capabilities.

Cllr Joyce McCarty, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council said: “Newcastle is a city that faces forward, embracing change. For us, technology is all about possibilities. Our plans will pave the way for Newcastle to be a pioneering city and accelerate our digital revolution.

“I believe there is more we can do to go further, faster and more dynamically which is why I am seeking a technological partnership with an organisation to help us put these ambitions into actions.”

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Image credit: SolStock, iStock images

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