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University helps to create smart city districts across Europe

06 Feb 2015

Manchester is playing a leading role in a new €25 million European project to demonstrate cutting-edge green technologies and roll them out across the world

Working with the cities of Eindhoven in Holland and Stavanger in Norway in a consortium called Triangulum, the University has been awarded a share of the pot in a European Commission scheme to demonstrate ‘smart green growth’ – reducing carbon emissions while boosting the economy. Smart Cities and Communities will transform designated urban districts into smart quarters in three forerunner cities and then transfer the concepts to three further cities. A total of 23 European partners from urban municipalities, research and industry are involved. Triangulum is one of the first projects to be funded under the European Commission’s flagship Horizon 2020 programme, and was selected out of 19 submissions to be part of the Smart Cities and Communities initiative.

The University is playing a key role in the Manchester part of the project, which is led by Manchester City Council working alongside Manchester Metropolitan University, Siemens and digital technology company Clicks and Links. The funding will enable investment in renewable energy and storage technologies, improve energy efficiency and management using ICT data and support the increased use of electric vehicles.

The actions are focused on the Corridor, including the University campus, and the project is unique in working closely with Estates Division to use the campus as a living laboratory to study urban sustainability. Emma Gardner, Head of Environmental Sustainability, and Tony Small Principal Mechanical and Energy Engineer are leading Estates involvement with Energy and ICT, while Andrew Hough, the Sustainable Travel Manager, and Gabriele Schliwa, a doctoral student in SEED, are assisting with the mobility work.

Professor Ian Cotton, Director of Manchester Energy at Manchester and lead for the ICT work in Manchester, said: "We are delighted that the EU has recognised the opportunities that exist in Manchester to showcase sustainable futures. This funding will support a new ICT platform that will allow our researchers and students to engage with real-world data gathered from a range of sources across Manchester to support the city’s ongoing transformation."

University researchers James Evans and Andrew Karvonen from the School of Environment Education and Development and Krassi Paskaleva from Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at MBS are leading the monitoring and evaluation work across the Triangulum consortium, coordinating teams in Eindhoven and Stavanger to assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of different Smart City technologies. Part of this work involves developing frameworks for open source and interoperable data sharing platforms that will enable cities to learn from each other and develop Smart City management technologies and Smart apps.

As Principal Investigator James Evans says, “it is essential to understand how different Smart solutions work in real life settings if they are going to be adopted more widely. This project is hugely exciting in that it not only brings key partners together to deploy and assess different Smart solutions, but focuses on how successes can be rolled out to cities across the world. Getting all stakeholders actively engaged in co-creating smarter and more sustainable cities is the legacy this project wishes to leave.”  

The project will run from 1 February 2015 for five years.