Bristol City Council inks deal with NEC over “open programmable” cities

Bristol City Council has launched a partnership with NEC to help speed the progress on creating the world’s first “open programmable city”.

Dubbed “Bristol Is Open”, the scheme sees the council collaborate in a joint venture with NEC and the University of Bristol. The JV will support the creation of innovative new smart services for people, business and academia.

It said it would pave the way for improvements in a wide range of services, including traffic congestion, waste management, entertainment, e-democracy, and energy supply. 

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NEC will help the JV with a city-wide digital fabric that includes fibre in the ground, an experimental wireless mile, and a Radio Frequency (RF) mesh that covers the vast majority of the city. NEC has been supplying the partnership with technologies such as software-defined networking, LTE mobile cells and microwave systems.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the partnership and said it was “one of the UK’s flagship digital smart city projects”.

“It’s great to see NEC partner with Bristol Is Open, a collaboration that will help bring even more innovative technology and smarter services to Bristol residents and businesses.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said, “More people use the Internet in Bristol than any other major UK city, and more people work in digital technology in the Bristol & Bath city region than anywhere in the UK outside London and the South East. 

“We are forging ahead with digital innovation at a rapid pace and ‘Bristol Is Open’ is one of the most exciting examples of my approach to making Bristol a test bed for new ideas. I am delighted that NEC is bringing their commercial and technical expertise to the table because there is so much to gain by us sharing this journey with global partners.”

Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Bristol Is Open, said that Bristol’s approach to smart cities has gone deep into the architecture of network provision, “creating a technology agnostic, heterogeneous, software defined approach to connectivity, at city scale. 

“This elastic approach is addressing many of the architecturally-rigid constraints experienced in today’s commercially available networks. As we bring our infrastructure live throughout 2016 we are looking forward to demonstrating new levels of connectivity that will be the hallmarks of the smart city of the future.”


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