A pioneering approach to innovation and digital technology has earned Bristol the title of the smartest city in the country.
This is according to the second UK Smart Cities Index, which evaluates places that have taken a leading role in implementing programmes to shape future living with improved access to services and infrastructure.
Bristol has forged ahead of major contenders, including London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, this year to be viewed as the UK leader for its use of digital technology to instigate the changes needed to grow and succeed.
The report, which was commissioned by Huawei UK and conducted by Navigant Consulting, singled out the Bristol is Open project, a unique system in which the city is turned into a giant test-bed for ideas and programmes.
“Cities the world over must look to technology to address the way they manage their resources and infrastructure to deliver innovative services for citizens and businesses,” said Julie Snell, managing director of Bristol is Open.
“Bristol has shown leadership in bringing together industry, government, academia and citizens to form a collaborative platform for the development of its Smart Cities program.
“Being recognised in the Smart Cities Index as the city that has made the most significant growth is testament to the vision and support of Bristol City Council, the fantastic results for the University of Bristol research and development department and the many other players in the city who all contribute to Bristol Smart City.”
Data access, energy innovation and community engagement are all areas in which the city excels, with Knowle West Media Centre’s Citizen Sensing strategy – which enables people to build or use sensors to tackle issues that are important to them – among the projects highlighted.
A “world class” operations centre that opened last week and integrates the council’s emergency control centre, traffic control centre and community safety (CCTV) control rooms for the first time, along with other services, is another Smart City initiative that helped boost Bristol up the ranks.
Deputy mayor Craig Cheney said: “Bristol is well and truly forging ahead in developing smart city technologies. I’m very pleased that Bristol has been acknowledged this way and we will continue to work towards developing our smart city capabilities in order to improve services for our residents and visitors.”
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, pro vice-chancellor for research at the University of Bristol, added that the award is testament to the scientific and technological talent in the city.
According to Sir Andrew Cahn, of Huawei UK Board, “the successful cities of the future are going to be smart cities.”
He said the progress made across the country is reflected in this year’s index which features twice as many cities, with Reading, Belfast and Manchester among the contenders for the top spot.