Liverpool as the UK’s first Smart City

Liverpool held Europe’s first Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March this year. The event is an inter-disciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world. It’s an event where entrepreneurs, government officials, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers work together to bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. It was the first time that this event was held in Europe since previous hosts have been Kansas City, Dubai and Shangai. It was organized by GEC’s principal sponsors, ScottishPower and Liverpool Vision.

By hosting this event, Liverpool shows again that they have the ambition of becoming the UK’s first “Smart City”. This has been underlined by City leaders, captains of businesses,  industry and technology experts. They debated on the benefits and challenges of addressing how more effective investments in IT, energy and human resources could provide better services to citizens.

A reason why Smart Cities will become necessary in the future is because population is growing, placing a greater demand on infrastructure and the vital services they deliver. Smart Cities are seen to be identified along six main criteria: economy, mobility, environment, people, living and governance. It is these criteria that will help meet the needs of communities in the future.

Mike Parker, Chairman of Liverpool Vision and Liverpool’s Smart City Board, told delegates the reason why Liverpool wants to become a Smart City. He said that future investments will flow into those cities that can demonstrate they have an innovative, green, adaptive structure. And although Liverpool, like competitor cities, faces many economic, social and technological challenges, they are in a remarkably good position to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Their ambition is matched by their determination and their enterprise is matched by their creativity.

Frank Mitchell, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said that ScottishPower is committed to supporting Liverpool’s Smart City ambitions since they are an integral part of the local community. They want to help make Liverpool a city of growth and they will continue to invest in its infrastructure and seek to create and support local employment.

Volker Buscher, Smart Cities Director of ARUP, Global thought leader in the Smart City space spoke about the mechanics of a Smart City and gave cutting edge examples of Smart City activity from cities such as San Francisco, Seoul and Helsinki.

And Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said that the concept of being a Smart City is one that must be embraced and investigated by Liverpool if they want to make the most of the giant steps that they’ve already taken in recent years. He states that Liverpool as a Smart City will have a smarter and fitter economy with first class transport and communications infrastructure. They city will have a smart environment with people enjoying the benefits of smart living; healthier, wealthier and happier. The Smart City concept holds the promise for Liverpool of being more competitive, investing in human and social capital and education. These investments hold an interest for everyone because it’s about the continuing well-being and future prosperity. Ultimately, Smart City Liverpool will help the Mayor to accomplish his main priorities; creating jobs, economic growth and a better future.

The speakers were joined by Mike Taylor, High Growth Director, Local Enterprise Partnership, Deputy CEO, Liverpool Vision and leading member of the Liverpool Smart City Board spoke about the pioneering technology being created by Connected Liverpool.

Danish presidency dialogue on smart cities and renewable energy

Connie Hedegaard, European climate action commissioner, said that solutions to the economic crisis and green growth have to go hand in hand. She  spoke on Thursday at a Danish presidency dialogue on smart cities and green growth. The event aimed to discuss the potential of integrating private and public sectors, combining ICT, renewable energies and resources, while keeping in mind some of the barriers that prevent this from happening.

With holding this EU council presidency and Denmark already leading the way on renewable technologies, Europe gets a lot of opportunities to take big steps in changing the way energy is produced. Europe could reduce dependence on non-sustainable sources which could also mean reducing costs since Europe’s fuel import increases year-on-year.

Solutions for renewable energy should become part of the growth strategy of cities. We already have sustainable and renewable technologies but we need to use these better to meet the increasing demands for energy. Hedegaard thinks governments and political leaders need to be aware and appreciate that renewable energy can also lead to economic benefits since there is a growing demand for energy within cities. There is a potential to create jobs within ICT, health, green solutions and other industries.

Hedegaard also expressed that there is a need for European targets to guarantee that the EU and member states prove long term commitment to renewable energy. EU targets can properly focus attention on the energy problems.

Another statement came from Graham Watson, chair of Climate Parliament. He spoke of the many advantages of smart grids, which are self-monitoring digitalized electricity grids that can distribute electricity according to demand, cost, supply and many other conditions. These smart girds create a much more efficient system. He said that there is no excuse for cities not to become a smart city and he spoke of the importance of informing customers and citizens about the benefits of such systems.