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Glasgow wins £24 million grant to become UK's first 'smart city'

City to be testbed for new data systems

Glasgow has won £24 million of government funding to become a UK test-bed for a range of new 'smart city' technologies that could transform the nature of urban life in the 21st Century.

Announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, the Technology Strategy Board's (TSB) 'Future Cities Demonstrator' will comprise a different projects meant to model different aspects of city living, including transport, health, crime, energy, as far as possible using real-time data.

A centrepiece will be the City Observatory, a centre hosted by the University of Strathclyde that will allow researchers to monitor and analyse 200 information feeds on activity in Glasgow, such as public transport, health and energy use.

"This [the City Observatory] will allow academic and business and industry researchers to analyse more than 200 information feeds about Glasgow - its health, economy, transport, energy use - to map the relationships between them and to understand how a 21st century city operates," said University of Strathclyde Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald.

A particular ambition is to analyse how systems for monitoring and improving technologies within cities can be integrated with one another.

"Connected cities have the potential to improve the quality of life for residents through more efficient physical systems, improved, real-time information about what they want to hear about and reduced energy consumption from smart buildings," commented Tom Kay of KPMG.

Importantly, the funding for Glasgow will give UK technology companies a foothold in a sector that could be worth $35 billion (£22 billion) in the coming years, he said.

However, "people will need to become more comfortable with sharing even more data on their location, habits and preferences to fully exploit the undoubted benefits," he warned.

In total, 26 bids were submitted to the Technology Strategy Board, of which four - Glasgow, Bristol, London and Peterborough - were shortlisted in December 2012.

The latest grant is a step up from the £250,000 it received from IBM two years ago as part of Big Blue's IBM's Smarter Cities initiative.

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