Left to right: Councillor Darren Byford (Wakefield Council), Simeon Banks (PTG), Mike Denby (Economic Development Service Manager, Wakefield Council), Hannah Shipley (Corporate Events Coordinator at Wakefield Council), Sarah Howsen (City Centre Office at Wakefield Council).
Walking through once-thriving towns can often give some realisation that the digital age has had a direct effect on the high street. The district, between Wakefield and Leeds, is a prime example of this. Areas like Dewsbury, once beaming with social energy and business prosperity (which, one could argue peaked during the industrial revolution) seem to have fallen victim to the digital revolution – leaving behind empty town centres, vacant storefronts and generally under-active areas in urban settlements.
The impact has been noticed by Wakefield City Council, who is considering ways they can integrate digital solutions into towns – thereby revitalising socio-economic pastures and filling the streets once more.
Over the last decade, cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Copenhagen have adopted a ‘Smart City’ framework – integrating technology into the city to improve traffic, public safety and even encourage creativity. This is done by introducing a high level of connectivity between technologies in the city, known as an ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). Now that Smart City frameworks are being installed in the UK, like Manchester, the idea is being considered by other UK City Councils too.
With an understanding of some of the socio-economic problems Yorkshire towns and cities are faced with, the pure technology group recently partnered with Wakefield City Council and key representatives from the local police, NHS, local businesses, the Ridings and Wakefield Civic Society to understand how IoT could be used to cultivate prosperity and growth in urban areas.
The discussion revolved around how data-collection and information sharing could impact high-street retail, city night life, public accessibility and public safety. For example, data capture can come from several sources – one of which being sensors that monitor activity in certain areas. These sensors can be used to identify social hot spots and similarly, expose areas that need the help of social campaigns to drive activity, thereby boosting the economy. This can be coupled with other intelligent systems which help to reduce crime – the desired effect being that the public can feel safer in city centres.
Furthermore, IoT can be utilised to positively impact parking and traffic, drive consumers to retail stores and to provide the public with key information about the area via free public wi-fi.
In the first workshop we wanted to introduce stakeholders to the power of IoT, by understanding the problems they were faced with and providing a high-level overview of its potential. Following on from this, we plan to work alongside the council and various stakeholders to investigate the potential technological solutions that can be used to help Wakefield continue to thrive.
With IoT integrating into futuristic cities, modern households and modern businesses there’s never been a better time to get connected. Find out how IoT could be helping your business by contacting [email protected] (or click here for more information).