Bristol is Open, the joint venture between the city council and Bristol university, has appointed a new managing director to build on the city’s position as the leading smart city in the UK.

“Bristol has a wealth of local companies and startups, some of whom are already working with Bristol is Open to trial their technologies”


“Connectivity in general plays a central role in any smart city development, as it provides the means for interconnecting infrastructures such as networks, sensors and devices,” says MD Julie Snell (pictured above). “Collaboration between the different stakeholders, including citizens, city authorities, private sector companies, innovators, entrepreneurs and academia, that are key to success.”

“Bristol has been forward-looking through its investment in Bristol is Open. This has resulted in a research and development network platform of multiple communications technologies installed around the city,” she says.

BiO integrates three networks through software controls: fibre in the ground, a wireless het-net (heterogeneous network) along the Brunel Mile area of Bristol with Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and 5G experiments using systems from Blu Wireless Technology, and a radio frequency mesh network deployed on 2,000 of the city’s lampposts.

This allows companies of all sizes to come and test new technology in a real-world environment rather than just inside a laboratory.

Smart city start-up collaboration

“Bristol has a wealth of local companies and start-ups, some of whom are already working with Bristol is Open to trial their technologies. It is particularly exciting to see local start-up companies like Zeetta Networks, who have developed an interactive programmable open platform that connects multiple elements to the Bristol platform, benefit from the initiative,” she says.

Bristol has been recognised in the UK Smart Cities Index 2017 as leading the way in areas such as open data access, energy innovation, and community engagement, overtaking London as the leading smart city in the UK.

The city has actively involved the community in its smart city strategy through projects like the Damp Busters pilot, which developed new ways of measuring the problem of damp in homes, including designing a frog-shaped temperature and humidity sensor. Citizen Sensing is a process where people build, use, or act as sensors – for example, identifying and gathering information (or data) that will help them to tackle an issue that is important to them.

The city is focusing on the development of smart districts, where a more holistic view can be taken across issues like transport, energy, housing, and the potential use of new technologies and better data. Researchers in the EU-funded REPLICATE project are working on an integrated smart district in the east of the city.

“It is important that smart city strategies don’t lose sight of the local issues and work collaboratively to break down silos. This will lead to smarter, more effective ways to provide city wide services, make better use of the funding and allow cities to support all citizens – from those living on or near the poverty line to those who are more fortunate,” she adds.

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