University of Bradford academics work to transform city services across Europe

Researchers at the University of Bradford are working with nine ‘smart cities’ across Europe to help them save up to €50m by using ‘smart’ technologies – collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT) – to improve improving the delivery of public services.

The five-year Smart Cities and Open Data Re-use (SCORE) project sees the University of Bradford working alongside the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and Aarhus University in Denmark to develop innovative ideas including interactive dustbins that can sense when they are full, intelligent car parks that can highlight empty spaces and real-time flood-warning information data that could save lives.

These ideas will be trialled and potentially implemented in cities across Europe, including Aarhus, Amsterdam, Aberdeen, Bergen, Bradford, Dordrecht, Ghent, Gothenberg and Hamburg.

“The aim of the project is to improve the delivery of public services, using innovative software and data sharing,” says Dr Dhaval Thakker, Lecturer in Computing and SCORE project principal investigator at the University of Bradford. “Our role is to use our expertise in creating IoT inspired solutions, to assist cities in developing new, and more efficient ways of delivering essential services.”

As part of the project, the SCORE partners will define 12 shared challenges to improve municipal services, covering services like the environment, water, parking and sustainable transport. They will then be tested in ‘living labs’, with the data and insights generated shared across all partners, helping them to implement these solutions.

All cities taking part are targeting a 10% reduction in the cost of service provision and a 20% improvement in the quality of these services, as measured by public perception. It is hoped that the smart cities taking part in the SCORE project could save up to €50m by 2021.

In one example of IoT inspired solutions that SCORE will accelerate, Dr Thakker explains how sensors offer potential to manage waste collection more effectively.  “Real time information from sensors within bins allows us to tell if they are full or not,” he says. “This data can be used by planners to make positive changes. Using big data analytics on sensor data, we can improve route planning significantly, reducing wasted journeys which can save money and reduce pollution too.”

Bradford is quickly becoming a European leader in connected technologies, with the local Smart Cities Networks developed by the local authority highlighting the benefits of collaborative working.

Bradford Council Leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Bradford Council is delighted to be a major player in this exciting project with our partners at the University and in Europe. Everyone knows that councils are being challenged to deliver more for less so our participation in the SCORE project is important to us. Our support for this innovative project will lead to more effective delivery and cost savings across a whole range of Council services.”

Dr Thakker added: “Bradford City Council is a huge supporter of the work we do, and we have worked closely together for a number of years. It’s exciting to know the work that we will do with some of the biggest cities across Europe will benefit the people of Bradford.”

Funded through the European Regional Development Fund, the SCORE project embraces an ‘open-source’ approach, where information, data and innovation are shared across all partners. As part of the project the smart cities will work with local partners, including SMEs to put the projects into practice.

A film about the SCORE project will be shown at the 2017 World Technology Universities Congress which is taking place at the University of Bradford on 31 August – 01 September 2017.