05.09.19

Ushering in the future with smart cities

Source: PSE: Aug/Sep 19

Andrew Smith, Crown Commercial Service category lead - technology solutions, talks about how the CCS can support the development of smart cities and help modernise public sector procurement practices.

The smart city agenda promises much. Technologically-driven improvements might benefit citizens’ health, their daily commute, their energy sustainability, and it may even reduce the crime rates they experience - all through more efficient and data-driven urban management. 

The significance of ‘smart’ technology is in the interaction between streams of data which may previously have been separate or non-existent. For example, smart street lighting might include smart pollution monitoring and traffic management, while also being linked in to a demand response energy scheme. 

The public sector is key to bringing these changes about: it carries responsibility to both introduce the required information gathering systems, and use its reach and scope to implement the practical changes which citizens will experience and benefit from. 

It’s quite a responsibility - ushering in the future. 

However teams of procurement experts from Crown Commercial Service (CCS) are preparing the way to ensure UK bodies in central government and the wider public sector have all the support they need to provide assured, practical and value-for-money products and services as part of the push towards smarter cities. 

Two of our forthcoming agreements are smart city specific: in fact engagement has already begun for both Smart Cities - Transport Technology Infrastructure and Smart Energy Cities which will provide easy routes to market for such technologies.

For the former, CCS hopes to see OJEU publication in autumn 2019 and contract award by spring the following year. Both are in early stages of development and opportunities within them have yet to be defined. Suppliers should monitor the CCS website for developments on these agreements. 

CCS already has smart city supporting opportunities available through our Heat Networks and Electricity Generation Assets (HELGA) Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) which will help public bodies and the wider public sector find the right suppliers for solar panels, wind turbines, heat networks, battery storage and more. 

By self-generating, the public sector will benefit from energy security, lower costs and demand reduction. 

HELGA supports public sector customers and provides specialist suppliers - whatever their size - with access to those customers. Once registered, suppliers are included in any relevant call for competition run through the HELGA system, increasing their visibility of new projects and potentially opening up whole new markets. 

CCS is also planning a Gigabit Capable Connectivity (GCC) DPS. This will support the purchase of fibre optic infrastructure and associated network services which are fundamental to the smart cities agenda. 

It is being developed in coordination with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, will be available to the entire public sector and is expected to go live in October.

Fibre optic infrastructure is essential in supporting and establishing an effective internet of things and 5G connectivity. It will provide the backbone on which all smart infrastructure is built and can then share data. 

The GCC DPS would be used to buy fibre optic infrastructure and associated connectivity services which would allow a building to receive 100Mbps+ broadband. For example, through this agreement, a council that has until this point utilised an expensive leased line connection may opt for a standard fibre-based broadband connection instead. 

Our customers will be looking for suppliers able to deliver fibre infrastructure quickly while showing flexibility in terms of the services they can offer over the network. Ambitious providers will see an opportunity to extend their current fibre footprint, as well as the services they provide across such digital infrastructure. 

Even the DPS model being used here is innovative: facilitating a move away from the traditional approach of buying WAN connectivity in the public sector, and towards an internet-based networking model. It also has the added benefit of making it possible for SMEs to access a wider variety of opportunities. 

By working together, suppliers, customers and CCS can create the more efficient and data-driven urban management needed to ensure truly smart cities become a reality.

For more information

W: www.crowncommercial.gov.uk

Tw: @gov_procurement

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