Bristol’s ongoing smart city transformation has picked up pace with the launch of a new five-year strategy that includes an updated approach to how innovation can help solve the challenges facing its citizens.

The city’s first Smart City Strategy was launched at the Bristol | Sweden Future Cities Summit at City Hall on Thursday (12 September) where representatives from industry, research and local government from Bristol and Sweden discussed their approaches to enhancing cities via innovation, green energy, sustainable transport and connectivity.

Organised by the city council in collaboration with Business West and Business Sweden, the summit saw discussion around developments such as sustainable heating and cooling solutions; energy storage; electric vehicle infrastructure and use; and improved connectivity and open data access, which all lead to the need for planning and the UN Sustainable Development Goals being tackled in both Bristol and Sweden.

Bringing together existing smart city functions such as the Bristol Operations Centre, Bristol is OpenCity Innovation Team and Connected Cities Programme, Bristol’s new strategy outlines a responsible innovation approach to the problems and issues facing the city.

Working with stakeholders, the City Office and other partners across the city, the strategy will be updated regularly and aims to ensure smart city projects will provide opportunities to more people and communities to assist in the city’s inclusive growth and help towards solutions to issues such as public safety, traffic congestion, energy poverty and health and social care.

The Connecting Bristol strategy will support the One City Plan, which outlines the vision for the city up to 2050 in areas such as Connectivity, Health and Wellbeing, Homes and Communities, Economy, Environment and Learning and Skills.

Cllr Craig Cheney, deputy mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “Bristol already has a reputation as a leading smart city, but the challenge now is to deliver further on that potential and release the talent and innovation of the city as a whole.

“This strategy lays out how we will build on the work already underway to use technology and data to develop a smarter, cleaner and safer city.

“Connecting Bristol can help us achieve that vision by building up the city’s digital foundations, by working alongside our One City Plan and in collaboration with partners to drive innovation that puts people first.

“This week’s summit was an important opportunity for us to understand how these developments have already been pursued in Sweden and what we can learn as we seek the innovative solutions that will benefit all Bristol residents in future years.

“We already understand that digital technology can help to pre-empt and tackle the complex local and global challenges the city faces.  Our next goal is to put in place a robust, ethical, inclusive, transparent and responsible approach to innovation that puts people at its heart.’’

Gustaf Bergström, Trade Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland at Business Sweden, who joined Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees for the summit welcome, said: “Sweden has a strong identity tied to sustainability and has many world-leading companies that are driving sustainable innovation and digitalisation.

“We are committed to supporting Bristol and the UK in the transition of cutting emissions and developing future cities with citizens and climate in mind.

“We are proud to have had a strong team of Swedish businesses and organisations with us during the summit, together making up an eco-system that can support the type of change that Bristol is aspiring to.

“We saw new partnerships formed during the week and we look forward to continue driving this collaborative platform, which will support Bristol and the UK towards reaching their climate targets.”

Bristol has already trialled a number of collaborative smart technology projects in the city, including a thermal camera system to alert emergency services when people fall into the city’s harbour, the Digital Profile career and recruitment platform that connects people, businesses and education and the Digital Inspector project to investigate how technology can help local authorities inspect the condition of roads.

REPLICATE, a five-year European pilot programme exploring how new technology can benefit communities has also seen work with people in the Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill wards of the city to trial energy, transport and information communication technology (ICT) solutions.