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Technology firm Asset Mapping recently announced that it has connected a secure Internet of Things (IoT) gateway to Manchester Science Partnership’s (MSP) Citylabs 1.0 building. The announcement marks the first deployment of the smart cities demonstrator CityVerve.

“I could not be prouder of having hit such a significant milestone. After all, this is the first technology deployment for CityVerve since launching in July – and the first time Asset Mapping has made a building smarter through its Building Management System (BMS),” said Bill Clee, CEO and founder of Asset Mapping.

Asset Mapping’s first project was to map the location and status of video surveillance equipment in real-time, for London’s Olympic Park in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic games. The company projected savings of £5m for salary alone on that project.

“We understand that field engineers spend two thirds of their time validating basic equipment information, that over 80 percent of maintenance is done reactively, and that more than half of construction projects are over budget,” the company states.

Now at the Citylabs 1.0 building, a 100,000 sq ft biomedical centre of excellence located on Oxford Road in Manchester’s innovation corridor, Asset mapping have installed an IoT gateway. The gateway is connected to the building’s BMS, providing a stream of live data from all heating, cooling and ventilation systems throughout the building. They hope it will help make the building more efficient, both in terms of energy consumption and maintenance costs.

“Of course, the real work begins now. Currently, we are receiving a constant stream of data from the heating, cooling and ventilation systems that are connected to the BMS,” said Clee. “We intend to connect the energy, water and gas meters in the coming weeks, and use low cost sensors to measure things like CO2 levels, occupancy or movement inside the building.”

Over the coming two years, Asset Mapping, along with MSP, Bruntwood, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Manchester intend to connect at least nine buildings in the Oxford Road area. The UK government is also fully behind the project having awarded CityVerve £10m to fund work in smart city research and development, especially around health, energy, environment, transport and culture in December 2015.

“The UK’s tech sector is renowned for its creativity as well as pioneering research and development. The Manchester project will help the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of Internet of Things technologies and inspire others around the world to create smarter cities,” said the UK’s Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey.

The Government and Innovate UK offered up to £10 million for a single collaborative research and development project to demonstrate the capability of applications at scale across a city region. The competition is part of a wider £40 million government investment in Internet of Things announced in March 2015 to make the UK an international leader in these pioneering technologies.

Indeed, the Citylabs 1.0 building is only part of CityVerve’s strategy in Manchester. Within healthcare, a biometric sensor network will be set up that aims to help improve responses to patients’ conditions and improve how local healthcare services work. A network of sensors positioned in parks, as well as along commuter and school routes will track the progress of individuals and teams competing against each other for physical activity and fun.

CityVerve is also creating ‘talkative bus stops’ to improve safety through the use of location-based services, sensors/beacons, mobile apps and intelligent digital signage. The talkative bus stops will allow Manchester’s bus passengers to check-in to their bus stop in order to let bus operators know they are waiting for their service, for example.

There are also a number of initiatives based on environmental motivations. Smart street lighting systems will help improve traffic and congestion, reduce energy consumption and offer other benefits. Bike sharing schemes, dedicated bike / bus lanes and e-cargo “last mile” delivery bikes also reduce pollution in the city center. While smart air-quality monitoring will be installed throughout the city to create data, which may help find better solutions, but also to be passed to the public, especially those with health conditions, so they can better chose walking routes, for example.

The CityVerve project is quickly putting Manchester on the ‘smart map’ as an active innovator for our smart connected future. And as the organization’s website states, “this isn’t just a reality for Manchester; CityVerve aims to create a blueprint for smart cities worldwide.”

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