BT competition aims to find innovative smart city, IoT and connected society projects as it proclaims public sector services to be on verge of revolution
The startup behind a cycle light that can provide data on pollution, road safety and surface conditions has won the main prize in BT’s ‘Infinity Lab SME’ competition, which looked to find innovative smart city, connected society and Internet of Things (IoT) projects.
The competition attracted more than 70 applicants, who then had to pitch their idea to a panel populated by members from Cabinet Office, the Department for Transport (DfT), TechHub, Milton Keynes Council, NHS England and BT.
See.Sense, a Northern Ireland based company, won the overall and connected city category, winning £15,000 and a six month membership to TechHub, which will provide support and resources.
Its ‘ICON’ cycle light (see main image) connects to a cyclists’ smartphone to collect data on crashes, near miss events, light levels and environment. It is claimed this data can help local authorities identify potential danger areas and potholes before they become a major issue, allowing them to allocate finite resources and save money in the long run.
In return, cyclists receive notifications when their bicycle might be stolen and an emergency alert is issued if they suffer an accident. The system is being tested in Milton Keynes and it is thought a city bicycle scheme, such as the Boris bikes, could provide a significant amount of data for authorities.
Eventually the platform could be used in a tracker that connects to the network directly, perhaps using a proprietary technology like Sigfox.
For now, See.Sense if focusing on cycling, but it says it has received enquiries about the possibility of expanding its platform to motorcycles and buses.
“We’re sticking with cycling for now because we know that vertical,” said See.Sense’s Irene McAleese.
The winner of the IoT category was Vivacity Labs, which uses cameras to identify not just the volume of traffic but also the type of traffic. It says that being able to distinguish between different vehciles can eliminate the need for manual data collection, saving money, and eventually enable real time traffic planning and traffic light systems.
Sitekit, a healthcare technology company from the Isle of Skye, won the connected society award for its eRedBook (pictured right) – a digital version of the existing paper-based Redbook used by parents to record and manage the health and development of their newborn children.
Naturally, the digitisation of such data creates concerns about privacy, but Sitekit assured TechWeekEurope that the protection of such sensitive information was one of its biggest priorities. It said it had spoken to all of the royal colleges [of medicine] to ensure everything was on board and hoped that a favourable regulatory environment would continue to develop.
Both companies will receive £7,500 to develop their ideas and a six month membership to TechHub.
This is the second year BT has run such a competition for SMBs. Ian Dalton, president of government and health at BT, said the contest was a recognition that public services were going to change dramatically in the next few years and it wanted to reach out to the startup community to improve its own set of services.
“We have a huge interest in the success of the SMB sector in this country – we have more than one million SMB customers,” he said. “We’re really interested in digital innovation and to work and understand digital innovation. We know public services are on the verge of a digital revolution.
“I certainly hope [we will do the contest next year] … “We don’t invest money or take equity – it’s about developing partnerships.”
What do you know about London’s technology scene? Try our quiz!