FROM pinpointing live traffic jams, crime and hospital waiting times, to showing harassed shoppers the least congested retail thoroughfares on a Saturday, it is a bold vision of the future for Scotland’s biggest city.
Glasgow’s city fathers were celebrating yesterday after securing £24million in investment from the UK Government to harness new technologies to create the ideal model of a so-called “future city.”
Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, hailed the award as a “huge vote of confidence” in the city which would help to “bring the future closer.”
The Future Cities award was announced by David Willetts, the science minister, who praised Glasgow’s “innovative, forward-thinking attitude” and predicted that “the rest of the world” would soon aspire to the city’s hi-tech infrastructure.
The initiative, which saw Glasgow beat 26 other cities to the prize, will allow the council to establish a so-called city dashboard, a huge, joined-up computer monitoring system which offers a real-time snapshot of more than 200 strands of information.
From a nerve centre in the Bridgeton area, data will show up to the minute congestion levels and allow officials to change traffic flows accordingly. They will also be able to view statistics on footfall and retail demand across the region, as well as the latest anti-social behaviour.
Residents will be able to interact via a dedicated smartphone app, allowing them to plan their driving route to work, report a pothole or missed bin collection, and check on waiting times in hospitals around the city.
Outlining his vision of the Glasgow of tomorrow, Mr Matheson said: “This a huge vote of confidence in the UK. This is a big deal, this brings the future closer and allows what is going on in Glasgow to be accelerated and used as an example of how a smart city should organise itself.
“By linking everything from foot and vehicle traffic to council tax collection and hospital waiting lists, we can ensure we are being innovative and smart to meet the continued challenges of a modern and future city life. One practical result will be a Glasgow smartphone app which will allow the public to interact with the new technology.”
Asked how the investment could be married with the council’s £70m budget cuts in the next two years, Mr Matheson added: “The investment in being a smart city will allow us to respond to the challenges that we face – health, environment, and economic challenges.” Mr Willetts said: “What it means is hi-tech cities where the information is currently spread around in different systems is properly brought together.”
Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Generations of talented Scots have helped cement Glasgow’s global reputation for innovation and creativity, and I’m delighted the city has won its bid to secure the £24m.”
The award is financed by the Technology Strategy Board, itself funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.