Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

NEC commits long term to Bristol smart city project

Steve Rogerson
February 11, 2016
Tokyo-based NEC has signed a long-term partnership agreement with Bristol Is Open, a smart city initiative in the UK. Bristol Is Open is a joint venture between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, and aims to create the world’s first open, programmable city to support the creation of smart services for people, business and academia.
The goal is to pave the way for improvements in a wide range of services, including traffic congestion, waste management, entertainment, e-democracy and energy supply.
"More people use the internet in Bristol than any other major UK city, and more people work in digital technology in the Bristol and Bath city region than anywhere in the UK outside London and the south east,” said George Ferguson, mayor of Bristol. “We are forging ahead with digital innovation at a rapid pace and Bristol Is Open is one of the most exciting examples of my approach to making Bristol a test bed for new ideas. I am delighted that NEC is bringing their commercial and technical expertise to the table because there is so much to gain by us sharing this journey with global partners.”
The partnership should help NEC demonstrate new approaches to pervasive digital connectivity at city-scale, combined with its aim to create new social value for the changing world of tomorrow. It helps Bristol Is Open to further its goal of creating the world’s first open programmable city with a city-wide digital fabric that includes fibre in the ground, an experimental wireless mile, and an RF mesh that covers the vast majority of the city.
“NEC is particularly drawn to the work of Bristol Is Open because we share their belief that new levels of pervasive digital connectivity are required to enable the smart city of the future,” said Dejan Bojic, programme director for NEC in Europe. “NEC is pleased to support and endorse Bristol Is Open’s development of software defined networks as a foundation behind internet of things and big data needed to address critical issues faced by urban communities around the world.”
NEC, Bristol Is Open and Bristol City Council are part of the €25m Replicate Lighthouse City consortium, alongside San Sebastián and Florence. The consortium will create integrated smart city products to tackle urban problems such as traffic congestion, poor air quality and unsustainable energy use. The consortium has received funding as part of the Smart Cities & Communities funding call through the EU’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme.
“Bristol’s approach to smart cities has gone deep into the architecture of network provision, creating a technology agnostic, heterogeneous, software defined approach to connectivity, at city scale,” said Paul Wilson, managing director of Bristol Is Open. “This elastic approach is addressing many of the architecturally-rigid constraints experienced in today’s commercially available networks. As we bring our infrastructure live throughout 2016 we are looking forward to demonstrating new levels of connectivity that will be the hallmarks of the smart city of the future. We are absolutely thrilled to have NEC as a partner because they bring global scope, knowledge, and pragmatism to what we are doing.”
The NEC partnership contract builds on a previous memorandum of understanding, and will help Bristol, the eighth most populous city in the UK, on its journey to becoming an open programmable city. NEC has been supplying Bristol Is Open with advanced IT and communications technologies, including software-defined networking (SDN) compatible switches, LTE small cells and iPasolink ultra-compact microwave systems, helping them build the smart city test bed platform.
"Bristol Is Open is one of the UK’s flagship digital smart city projects, led by the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council and part of the government's superconnected cities programme,” said the UK’s digital economy minister Ed Vaizey. “It's great to see NEC partner with Bristol Is Open, a collaboration that will help bring even more innovative technology and smarter services to Bristol residents and businesses."
Bristol Is Open is a research infrastructure to explore developments in software, hardware and telecoms networks that enable more interaction between people and places and more M2M communications. The project uses a high performance software defined network as the city operating system, then IoT platforms and big data analytics feed an emerging number of smart city applications. This is giving people more ability to interact, work and play with the city that they live in, and aims to help cities address some of the biggest challenges of modern urban life.