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What can smart cities teach us about the value of data and partnerships?

How IT teams can lead the way in collaborative innovation



It’s one thing for your business to be able keep up with the pace of technological change in the 21st century, but what about ensuring that a whole city can maintain the pace too? Information has always been a powerful currency, but how can cities ensure they’re fully capitalising on the reams of data they generate day-in, day-out?

This was the challenge that Cisco took on with CityVerve, an IoT smart city demonstrator project based in Manchester, in the North West of England.

City councils are much like IT teams, in that much of their funding and resources is often spent simply ‘keeping the lights on’. There’s often little time to be spent exploring innovative new solutions, or to consider how the vast amounts of data generated by and within our cities could be put to use more effectively.

Increasingly, pooling data and working as part of a broader innovation ecosystem is the way to tackle these challenges. Both of these things can come with their own complexities: juggling partnerships, data handling priorities, and ensuring privacy, security, ROI, and seamless integration is no mean feat.

The CityVerve project convened more than 20 partners to work together on solutions that brought together the latest in cutting edge technology, academia, and city governance to redefine ‘smart’ in the context of a living, working city.

The project applied principles of data sharing and cross-sector collaboration to develop new innovations in travel and transport, energy, the environment, health and social care, and culture.

For many of the organisations involved in the demonstrator, access to new data streams and expertise from across the consortium, as well as central funding schemes, allowed them to focus on developing revolutionary new smart city applications. For Manchester City Council in particular, the project was an opportunity to reflect on how to apply a more digital, data-driven approach to running its operations.

In this episode of MACRO, the innovation podcast from Cisco, we hear from those who were directly involved in creating new solutions and – perhaps even more significantly – nurturing key partnerships to make the project a success.