Bristol, United Kingdom

2014-12-31 00:00:00

Smart City

Comments from the Technical Committee:

A historic city beset by problems of congestion, an aging population, climate change and energy resilience, Bristol is setting itself apart by new initiatives. It voted to become one of the few cities in England to adopt a mayoral form of government. Bristol is a signatory to the Covenant of Mayors, the mainstream European movement involving local authorities committed to reducing energy use and emissions. The city was awarded European 'Green Capital' status for 2015. Bristol's innovative approach to becoming a smart city, Smart City Bristol, is based on people and not technology: a public-private-people approach.

The program has two primary aims:

•To contribute to the reduction of Bristol's CO2 emissions of 40% by 2020 from a 2005 baseline.

•To ensure sustainability is placed at the heart of community concerns and becomes an integral way of improving individual's lives. Sustainability projects to date include smart metering, open data, smart grid and electric vehicles, all of which build on the City's strengths in micro-electronic and digital companies. Citizen participation is prioritized through a living laboratory and extensive media and digital communications. Future projects include a Bristol Prize for new clean technology and a Grass Roots Catalyst Fund to incubate and develop sustainable urban living initiatives which can be up-scaled and applied to cities anywhere.

Background Information

Although not a policy framework as such, Smart City Bristol is delivered under the auspices of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’.

In 2012, Bristol became a signatory of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’. As defined on their website, “The Covenant of Mayors is the mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities, voluntarily committing to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. Covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union 20% CO2 reduction objective by 2020.”

The smart city program has been formalized under this covenant, although its objectives exceed the basic 20% CO2 reduction target.

Goals of the Initiative

Smart City Bristol is a collaborative program between the public sector, business and community. The main aim is to use smart technologies to help meet our ambitious city target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from a 2005 baseline, as well as our social and economic objectives. It was launched in 2011 and builds upon the Smart City Bristol Report commissioned by Bristol City Council in 2011 and funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The European Green Capital 2015 program will also contribute to these targets, promoting Bristol as a centre for innovation in Green technology. While difficult to measure, the city’s resilience to identified challenges will be monitored via a series of qualitative measures as well as quantifiable targets, such as the Mayor’s annual ‘state of the city’ report, the ‘quality of life survey’ and other public consultations.

The resources used for implementing the initiative include:

Program coordination is financed by the Bristol City Council within existing staff budgets. During project development other organizations also provide their time freely. Individual pilot projects are funded by European and UK funding sources such as the European Commission, Ofgem, TSB, and the UK Government. Some ongoing initiatives are financed by the City Council, e.g. the Traffic Control Centre.

Leading up to 2015, Bristol will receive £7 million of additional funding to support it as a European Green Capital. Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, announced this during a recent visit to the city. The funding will deliver a range of projects which will help Bristol remain at the centre of green investment and urban sustainability.

In 2013, Bristol was successful in its attempts to be one of ‘100 resilient cities’ identified by the Rockefeller foundation in the USA. In addition to membership of the newly formed 100 Resilient Cities Network, Bristol has received financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation to create and implement a resilience plan and to hire a Chief Resilience Officer.

The Smart City Bristol project is still in its early stages but will grow to complement our existing Sustainable City, City Innovation and Energy Service programs.

Innovation for the Initiative

Smart City Bristol is remarkable in that it combines evolutionary and revolutionary aspects. It is revolutionary in that the projects we deliver are innovative and are applied within a Bristol context using our own approach to smart cities. We put people at the heart of a smart city, rather than technology. For example, our So La Bristol ‘smart grid’ project is the first in the world to use bespoke technology in residents’ homes to connect solar pv generation to battery storage units. The smart city approach places people and communities at the centre of technological innovation; we believe that it is how people interact with technology that informs behavior change and will help the City to achieve its aims. To that end, the So La Bristol project works with a local community-based charity with the specific aim of stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, Bristol’s Green Capital status will allow the city to revolutionize its approach by raising the profile of Bristol on a wider international scale and attracting investment in innovative technologies within the city.

Smart city Bristol is evolutionary, in that it builds upon the lessons learned from previous projects. A good example of this is the ‘smart metering’ suite of projects that has been deployed in Bristol, beginning with a project called ‘DEHEMs’ (2008-2011) and further developed in ‘3e Houses’ (2011-2014). Both projects were funded under European Commission funding initiatives, with DEHEMs trialing the use of smart meters in council-owned properties. The lessons from this project were used to inform the 3e houses work, which used smart metering in combination with a user ‘interface’ to enrich the user experience and increase levels of participation and engagement. Again, the learning from this project has been used to develop a bid for a further smart metering project which aims to develop smart metering ‘apps’. It is hoped that this project will be funded under the new Horizon 20:20 program.

Smart City Bristol was launched in 2011 focusing on Smart Energy, Smart Transport and Smart Data. It includes pilot projects e.g. smart metering, smart grid, electric vehicles, open data alongside permanent initiatives e.g. the Traffic Control Center and Freight Consolidation Center. Having a distinctive strength is what makes a Smart City and in Bristol our strength is the collaboration of our microelectronic, environmental technology and creative companies who are working with communities to make them smart, e.g. through Bristol’s Living Lab in Knowle West - a group of people who are actively involved in the creation and evaluation of technologies which they will ultimately use.

Some of the projects which will be funded and delivered as part of Green Capital 2015 will include:

•The Bristol Prize a new annual award for the best new clean technology. This will help deliver solutions for cities to deal with and alleviate climate change.

•A sustainable living program in UK schools to educate up to 4.5 million children about climate change and how cities can contribute to tackling this issue.

•An international festival for Clean Technology Business, in Bristol, for a number of high profile sectors which have the greatest scope for boosting growth.

•The Grass Roots Catalyst Fund, to incubate and develop sustainable urban living initiatives which can be scaled up and applied to cities across the world.

•A series of international high profile summits on Climate Change. Attendees will include the Prime Minister, other leading politicians and top-level global climate change stakeholders.

•Expand a volunteer program to SMEs and frontline businesses to help Bristol prepare and deal with the influx of visitors during its tenure as the European Green Capital in 2015.

Obstacles and Solutions for Innovation

When deploying smart city projects we have found that one of the major obstacles to success is ensuring good communication with the project customers. It needs to be done in a way that means something to them and so they understand the benefits and their role. One way of ensuring that project stakeholders are engaged with the goals of the program is to ensure that we have an effective dissemination & communication strategy. By linking the smart city agenda to Bristol’s status as a Green Capital, the profile of the various projects has been raised significantly on a national level. At a local level, the election of a directly-elected mayor has helped distil messages about the necessity for a 'smart city' approach to carbon reduction.

When seeking to deploy innovative technological solutions, there are a number of political sensitivities to consider, especially in the context of decreasing authority budgets and the perception that smart city projects are somehow non-essential expenditure. This cynicism has been largely overcome by establishing successful links with other internal council departments, securing buy-in from senior managers as to how the technology in question can actually increase efficiency and provide a more effective service for Bristol’s citizens.

Outcomes and Assessments

Ultimately, Smart City Bristol has two primary goals. Firstly, we are developing smart projects that will contribute to a reduction in Bristol’s CO2 emissions. Success is measured by ‘The Bristol Climate Change and Energy Framework 2012-15’ which was adopted in March 2012 and sets out how the City Council will work with partners to reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from a 2005 baseline, and how the city will adapt to climate change.

Secondly, we are using projects and the green capital status to ensure that sustainability is placed at the heart of communities, working in partnership with public and private organizations and using ICT and digital connectivity to support this. Our aspiration is to ensure that sustainability issues become an integral way of improving individuals’ lives, supporting and enriching experiences rather than being at odds with them.

Accomplishments to-date include:

•Securing an additional £7m in funding for Green Capital activity.

•Becoming one of the inaugural 100 Resilient Cities, a pioneering initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

•Achieving the 20% energy reduction target as part of 3e Houses

•Decreasing energy consumption by schools and council offices as part of the ‘smart spaces’ project.

•Increasing awareness and engagement with climate change issues via smart city projects in general.

The city has plans to create resilient systems—more decentralized, less prone to cascade failure—and will future-proof investment decisions. Bristol is already the most energy and waste-efficient major UK city, and we plan to meet future needs by managing resources even more efficiently. The city aims to empower individuals and communities to help themselves, support capacity building and local-decision making, and protect local amenities. Much of the building stock is old, but the city is working to enable owners to future-proof buildings to support and protect life and enable commerce. The city is using a systems-led approach to build in capacity, flexibility, safe failure, and constant learning. Being a resilient city is central to the Mayor’s vision.

Measure of success

As stated above, the main measure of success in this context is the City Council’s ‘Climate Change & Energy Security framework’, which forms Bristol’s SEAP under the Covenant of Mayors and is the 3rd iteration of a climate change plan for Bristol. The framework sets out 19 broad strategic activities and these there are 65 specific actions covering emissions from buildings, transport, business and city-wide activity.

In respect of the specific projects within the smart city program, most are funded via the European Commission and have strict timescales and deadlines regarding progress. For example, for two of the smart energy projects ‘3e Houses’ and ‘STEEP’, a number of successes have to be evidenced. These included:

•20% reduction in energy consumption in pilot housing areas

•Guidelines and best-practice documents to be produced for use by other cities

•On-line energy consumption analysis tools including interactive GIS maps

•Minimum number of stakeholders engaged in project and willing to participate in on-going evaluation.

For each of the smart energy projects, we are working with partners who conduct participation questionnaires throughout the project lifecycle to gather feedback from citizens taking part.