IBM Transforms Peterborough Into ‘Smarter City’


The city of Peterborough is working with IBM to develop an online portal for measuring environmental data

It might not have the beauty of Bath or the buzz of Manchester, but Peterborough is hoping to carve out its own place amongst the top metropolitan centres by becoming the most sustainable city in the UK.

City authorities released details of the bid this week, which they hope will be largely achieved thanks to an online platform from IBM that tracks and analyses all of Peterborough’s energy, water and transport systems. Residents, utilities and officials will be able to log onto the system and see at a glance how well the city’s environmental performance is being managed.

“Technological advances allow cities to collate data and interpret it in ways not achieved before and Peterborough is going to be at the forefront of taking advantage of this intelligence,” said Trevor Gibson, director of Environment Capital, Opportunity Peterborough. “Peterborough is using recognised expertise that will enable us to meet the sustainability challenges and achieve Peterborough’s aspirations as environment capital.”

Peterborough’s green history

Peterborough already has an green history having been cited as one of the four UK Environmental Cities by the Department of the Environment in 1995. Thanks to its partnership with IBM, the city has also been named as one of the tech giant’s “Smarter Cities”. But while some environmentalists may argue that sustainability means limiting growth and urban sprawl, the city has a target to generate 20,000 jobs, 25,000 homes and 40,000 new residents by 2021 compared to 2001.

The first phase of the online data project is focused on energy and water, but work is already underway to move transport and waste information onto the system, according to IBM. “New technologies are capable of understanding and connecting city scale systems, so they can sense, analyse and integrate data, enabling the city to respond intelligently to the needs of citizens”, said Ian Abbott-Donnelly, European CTO, IBM Big Green Innovations.

Smarter cities

Late last year, IBM released a series of five predictions about how cities will grow smarter and what technologies will aid in that transformation over the next five years.

Authorities in Amsterdam are working with networking giant Cisco to create an online map of the city’s carbon emissions which residents can use to try and reduce their carbon footprints. In December 2009, Cisco said that the Dutch city is rolling out its Urban EcoMap application, which will provide detailed information on carbon emissions and allow residents to compare their output with neighbouring districts or postal codes.

With an estimated 60 million people around the world moving into cities each year, experts predict that population in the world’s cities will double by 2050.

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