TelecomTV at Connected Liverpool

Today was a very exciting day for Connected Liverpool. This morning at 9 a.m. sharp, CEO Lee Omar and Innovation Lead Jordy van Kuijk met up for breakfast with a strongly motivated two headed team from TelecomTV.

One of them, Guy Daniels, explained their ambition to showcase how ICT can offer practical solutions to vertical sectors and communities, through text, photos and video and that they are keen to track the progress of a community-based service, from first steps through to full roll-out. Connected Liverpool perfectly matches this criteria providing all that was necessary to arrange an informal catchup in Liverpool this morning.

After breakfast, both our CEO and Innovation Lead were interviewed and filmed to comment on Connected Liverpool’s strong aspirations to transform Liverpool into the UK’s first Smart City.

Innovation Lead Jordy van Kuijk was interviewed first at our studio in the Baltic Triangle and was asked such questions as: “What is a smart city?”, “What is a city operating platform?”, “Why does Liverpool have to become smarter within the eight areas of the Visitor Economy, the Knowledge Economy, Low Carbon, Employment – Skills & Entrepreneurship, Health & Wellbeing, Housing and Neighbourhoods, SuperPort and Transport?”, and “How will smart applications, the Internet of Things and the Machine to Machine market contribute to this?”.

CEO Lee Omar was interviewed and filmed in “The Light” at the Royal Liver Building, one of the Rights and Humanity conference rooms. Lee commented on his aspirations to provide better citizen services to the Liverpool City Region residents and to provide equal opportunities to all communities within the region. Additionally he explained: “At this point we are halfway our consultation phase meaning we are speaking to as many stakeholders as possible in the various areas. At this point I couldn’t tell you where we will be within 4 months from now, but I can tell you that I aim to create one coherent cross-departmental strategy that suits us all and enables us to revitalise our city region.”

After the interviews, the TelecomTV team took off to take some nice shots of the City Region including pictures of L1 and the Albert Docks.

We’ll keep you informed!!


Can We Design Cities for Happiness?


“Happiness itself is a commons to which everyone should have equal access.”

This is a quote from Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, who now travels the world spreading a message about how to improve quality-of-life for everyone living in today’s cities.

Peñalosa spends a lot of his time dealing with Third World countries which even with their poverty and immense problems will absorb much of the world’s population growth over the next half-century. Based on his experiences in Bogotá, Peñalosa believes it’s a mistake to give up on these cities as good places to live.

“If we in the Third World measure our success or failure as a society in terms of income, we would have to classify ourselves as losers until the end of time,” declares Peñalosa. “So with our limited resources, we have to invent other ways to measure success. This might mean that all kids have access to sports facilities, libraries, parks, schools, nurseries.”

Peñalosa uses phrases like “quality of life” or “social justice” rather than “commons-based society” to describe his aim of offering poor people first-rate government services and pleasant public places. He himself has an impressive track record during his three years as a mayor of Bogotá. Peñalosa’s Administration accomplished the following:

  • Led a team that created the TransMilenio, a bus rapid transit system (BRT), which now carries a half-million passengers daily on special bus lanes that offer most of the advantages of a subway at a fraction of the cost.
  • Built 52 new schools, refurbished 150 others and increased student enrollment by 34 percent.
  • Established or improved 1200 parks and playgrounds throughout the city.
  • Built three central and 10 neighborhood libraries.
  • Built 100 nurseries for children under five.
  • Improved life in the slums by providing water service to 100 percent of Bogotá households.
  • Bought undeveloped land on the outskirts of the city to prevent real estate speculation and ensured that it will be developed as affordable housing with electrical, sewage, and telephone service as well as space reserved for parks, schools, and greenways.
  • Established 300 kilometers of separated bikeways, the largest network in the developing world.
  • Created the world’s longest pedestrian street, 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) crossing much of the city as well as a 45- kilometer (28 miles) greenway along a path that had been originally slated for an eight-lane highway.
  • Reduced traffic by almost 40 percent by implementing a system where motorists must leave cars at home during rush hour two days a week. He also raised parking fees and local gas taxes, with half of the proceeds going to fund the new bus transit system.
  • Inaugurated an annual car-free day, where everyone from CEOs to janitors commuted to work in some way other than a private automobile.
  • Planted 100,000 trees.

These accomplishments boosted the quality of life for the citizens of a city characterized by vast disparities of wealth. Today, Bogotá is seen as an international benchmark for sustainable innovation, even for cities in the developing world.




ProjectEV is an accelerator programme to develop super-growth businesses in Liverpool supported by the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and led by Cllr Nick Small, cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills.

Cllr Nick Small:

“This is exactly the sort of initiative which builds the legacy following the Global Entrepreneurship Congress earlier this year. The GEC, Liverpool Embassy in London and our presence at the World Expo in Shanghai prove that Liverpool is a place where people, in the UK and across the world, want to do business.“This will be another Liverpool first which will help grow the businesses of the future.”

The project is believed to be first of its kind outside the USA and builds on the success of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) where 3,000 delegates from around the world came to the city.

ProjectEV offers support for entrepreneurs who have an innovation, business idea, solution, design or project that meets a need in any of the following fields:

social enterprise
creative services
green technology
video services and digital home
cloud computing
financial services
smart cities
social Innovation
mobile applications
social networks

If your project has been chosen to enter ProjectEV, for the three years of the project you will receive assistance on funding & finance, management & advisory, space & infrastructure and training & networking. A well equipped work environment based at the Albert Dock Liverpool will be provided to the 15 selected companies as well as the support partners of the project and administrative support.

You can apply for ProjectEV online ( after which a selection process will take place involving the following steps:

1. ProjectEV will analyse all the proposals received. In this phase, only those that do not comply with the specific conditions and business areas will be ruled out.

2. The assessment team, the members of projectEV’s team and with Mentors with experience in the specific business areas, will pre-assess the projects and choose the best proposals in each competition.

3. The shortlisted applicants will be invited to participate in “projectEVweek”, where up to 15 projects will be chosen for acceleration.

4. The selected projects will enter the ProjectEV HQ (aka Enterprise Village), a collaborative physical space and work environment where you can share your energy and experience with other entrepreneurs. You will then formalise the commitment and start receiving the financing, training and support that your project requires so that it can become a viable and profitable company.

For the three years of the project you will receive funding of up to £250,000 per annum to access the best business advisors from our panel to give you a boost to your business plans, and acheive your goals. In return all you will be expected to pay is the market rate for the space you will occupy at Enterprise Village.

All together, an interesting new initiative to support entrepreneurship in the Liverpool City Region!!!

The Top 10 Smart Cities On The Planet


So what are the world’s smartest cities? When researching the world’s best practices for climate resilient cities, a lot of different rankings are found.

For this ranking, the Innovation Cities Top 100 Index from 2thinknow, rankings linked to the quality of life of cities, the Siemens regional rankings of green cities, the digital city rankings of Digital Community for cities in the U.S. and the IDC rankings of smart cities in Spain were used.

When defining the term ‘Smart City’, a lot of definitions can be found. We like to perceive a Smart City as an urban space in which efficiency (on multiple disciplines) is optimised with the use of modern technology to improve citizen’s services and increasing their quality of life.

Lets have a look at the current top 10 smart cites:

1.) Vienna. Considering the different rankings, Vienna was the only city that ranked in the top 10 in every category: innovation city (5), regional green city (4), quality of life (1) and digital governance (8). Vienna is establishing bold smart-city targets and tracking their progress to reach them, with programs like the Smart Energy Vision 2050, Roadmap 2020, and Action Plan 2012-2015. Vienna’s planners are incorporating stakeholder consultation processes into building and executing carbon reduction, transportation and land-use planning changes in the hopes of making the city a major European player in smart city technologies.

2.) Toronto. The highest rated smart city in North America, Toronto also scores pretty well across the board. Recognizing its importance in the movement, IBM recently opened a Business Analytics Solutions Center in Toronto. Toronto is also an active member of the Clinton 40 (C40) megacities, which seek to transition to the low-carbon economy. The private sector in Toronto is collaborating too, creating a Smart Commute Toronto initiative in the hopes of increasing transit efficiency in the metro area. Toronto also recently began using natural gas from landfills to power the city’s garbage trucks. That’s smart closed-loop thinking.

3.) Paris. As is typical of sustainability-related rankings, Europe fared well. Paris was highly rated in several categories including innovation (3), green cities in Europe (10), and digital governance (11). Paris was already on the world map for its highly successful bike sharing program, Velib, and just last month, the mayor launched a similar model for small EVs called Autolib, which currently has 250 rental stations.

4.) New York. New York scored higher than most other cities in the ranking in all of the categories outside of quality of life, where it ranked a miserable 47th. New York partnered with IBM in 2009 to launch the IBM Business Analytics Solution Center to address “the growing demand for the complex capabilities needed to build smarter cities and help clients optimize all manner of business processes and business decisions.” In New York, IBM is already helping the city prevent fires and protect first responders as well as identify questionable tax refund claims–a move that is expected to save the city about $100 million over a five-year period.

5.) London. The UK capital also scored relatively high across the board. London has been well-recognized for some of its sustainability innovations (i.e. congestion tax) and its robust transit system. The city will soon be home to Smart Cities research center housed at Imperial College, which will leverage transport, government, business, academic and consumer data in hopes of making the city more efficient and innovative. Just the other day, London announced a partnership with O2 to launch the largest free Wi-Fi network in Europe.

6.) Tokyo. Tokyo is the first Asian city on this list, scoring well in the innovation (22) and digital city (15) categories. Last year, the city announced plans to create a smart town in the suburbs. In partnership with Panasonic, Accenture, and Tokyo Gas (among others), the eco-burb will contain homes that integrate solar panels, storage batteries, and energy efficient appliances all connected to a smart grid. Tokyo is also focused on promoting smart mobility solutions.

7.) Berlin. Berlin also performs well across the board, with good scores in innovation (14), green-ness (8th in Europe) and quality of life (17). In collaboration with Vattenfall, BMW, and others, Berlin is testing out vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies in the hopes of creating a virtual power plant from electric vehicles.

8.) Copenhagen. Lately, it seems Copenhagen has been doing a lot right. It was rated number one on the green scale in Europe by Siemens last year. All with good reason: Copenhagen is taking a real leadership role on sustainable innovation. The city has committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 and 40% of its citizens regularly commute via bicycle.

9.) Hong Kong. Hong Kong scored quite well in key areas, including the digital governance ranking (3). However, its quality-of-life score (70) dropped the city down to ninth in this ranking of smart cities. Hong Kong is experimenting with RFID technology in its airport, as well as throughout the agriculture supply chain. The city has also been a leader in the use and adoption of smart cards, which are already used by millions of residents for services like public transit, library access, building access, shopping, and car parks.

10.) Barcelona. Barcelona was recently ranked the number two smart city in Spain in the IDC report, and with good reason. The city is a pioneer in smart city and low-carbon solutions. It was among the first in the world to introduce a solar thermal ordinance about a decade ago, recently launched the LIVE EV project to promote the adoption of EVs and charging infrastructure, and the city also recently announced a major partnership to develop a living lab for smart-city innovation.

Other cities such as Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vancouver, Melbourne, Seattle and São Paulo were all close to enter this top 10 as well. Generally, it’s good to see that more and more cities start to adopt the Smart City concept and start to develop projects to get involved.

We’ll keep you posted!!

Talking Cars

"Talking" vehicles graphic

On the roads of Ann Arbor, Michigan, hundreds of vehicles are fitted with kit that lets them ‘talk’ to each other. The pilot was initiated by the US Department of Transport and will continue for one year and will connect about 3,000 vehicles in total.

The aim of the pilot is to test technology designed to alert drivers to dangerous situations in an effort to reduce the number of accidents on the roads. At the end of the trial, the data gathered should be used to force law changes regarding the required safety equipment.

In 2011, more than 32,000 people died on the US’s roads due to crashes. The government suggests that 80% of the number of accidents did not involve drugs or alcohol meaning that technology could create a step-change towards safer transport.

The companies Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have all provided vehicles to be used. Nearly 500 trucks and buses are already equipped with the communication devices which rely on technology similar to wi-fi. By the start of October that number is set to rise to about 2,800.

The actual kit will let vehicles send data to each other and selected parts of the city’s infrastructure.

Drivers will be warned if:

  • There is a risk they could crash into another vehicle at crossings where their view is restricted.
  • If another vehicle is changing lanes in their blind spot.
  • If there is a danger of a rear-end collision because the car in front of them has braked suddenly.

Drivers will be warned of dangers they might not be able to see to reduce the risk of a collision.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s David Strickland, this technology has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety. However, it still remains a challenge to implement the technology in the real world, he said.

Collision alert graphicAlternatives to the technologies involved in the project are already on the market. For example, Bosch offers an ultrasonic sensor which registers objects three metres to a car’s side which the driver may not be able to see. Nissan has also introduced a car-mounted radar which monitors the road ahead and applies the brakes if it thinks a collision is imminent. In Europe Volvo is working on an alternative wireless technology in which cars “follow” a lead vehicle, mimicking its actions and forming a convoy.

Even though these technologies have great potential to improve road safety, the amount of time it will take before we see it become widespread will depend on both whether the technology is viable and how quickly governments are likely to demand that vehicles implement it. At least 30 to 40 years away we would say.