Newcastle to get the UK’s ‘smartest street’ as city spearheads digital revolution
Newcastle is to get Britain’s “smartest street”, putting the city at the forefront of a global digital revolution that aims to solve a number of key issues facing the city.
Mosley Street in the city centre – which was the first place in the UK to pioneer electric lighting – is to be fully connected with a range of digital sensors that aim to collect data to provide solutions to issues such as congestion, pollution, waste reduction and parking.
As part of the Great Exhibition of the North, computing giant Cisco will work with Newcastle City Council to connect Mosley Street round to Neville Street and Central Station to sensors that will help showcase the possibilities that smart places create for people living and working in the area.
The project has come out of a group that council leader Nick Forbes and council chief executive Pat Ritchie run with business leaders to identify ways to improve life in Newcastle.
Stu Higgins, head of Smart Cities and Internet of Things at Cisco, said: “It’s incredibly exciting. This whole area is relatively new globally so this really puts Newcastle on the map as one of the places doing the smartest things in a city.
“Newcastle has had lots of great ideas and wants to recognise the importance of digital services to make life better for people who live and work in a place.”
It is hoped that bringing together data from a range of sources can eventually help the city solve parking problems, ease congestion, identify and reduce sources of pollution and eliminate unnecessary street lighting.
Coun Forbes said the scheme “puts us firmly at the heart of modern Britain” while Cisco said the scheme could help the UK “cement itself as a global digital leader”.
The project has seen air quality sensors installed outside Central Station, while sensors have also been put in the road surface on Neville Street to show which parking spaces are occupied. CCTV will be used to monitor congestion levels and monitors inside rubbish bins will tell the council when they need to be emptied.
Data captured in the area will be Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory, home of the UK’s largest set of real-time urban data, and some will also be made available to the public via the Great Exhibition of the North app.
It is hoped that eventually the system could be used, for example, to warn people with breathing difficulties that air quality is bad in certain areas.
Bringing together different data sets to provide a more rounded picture of the city is also possible. For example, research shows that around 30% of traffic in city centres is people looking for parking spaces, but if information can be sent to drivers’ car phones, this would help them get parked and also reduce congestion.
Coun Forbes said: “It is fantastic that Cisco has chosen Newcastle for the location of their most comprehensive smart street in the UK. The fact that the world’s largest networking company has selected our city for such a pioneering venture puts us firmly at the heart of modern Britain.
“It is also testament to Newcastle’s growing skills base in digital technology and data analytics, and an example of our commitment to use innovation to help make people’s lives better. It is fitting that Cisco is launching their smart street during the Great Exhibition of the North – a celebration of the North’s inventive spirit, marking the next phase for the North’s future.”