Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Introducing the UK’s smartest street in Newcastle

June 11, 2018

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the first street in the world to install electric lighting was located in of our bigger cities; London, New York, Sydney perhaps. Yet it was in fact, Mosley Street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a progressive, forward-looking city, even way back in 1879.

And in a classic example of life turning full circle, nearly 140 years on, Mosley Street is about to become the UK’s smartest street.

The streets are paved with smart technology

Of course, this time around, it’s a slightly more sophisticated exercise, as Internet of Things (IoT) smart sensors are installed throughout the street, including lampposts and waste bins, to collect real-time local data.

And we’re really pleased to be playing a part in renewing Mosley Street’s smart credentials, with our Kinetic for Cities solution, in partnership with Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, Connexin, Mayflower and Quantela to make this smart vision a reality.

But there is a lot more to this project than data collection and being clever with technology; in fact, there’s a very important purpose.

Newcastle upon Tyne is already a great place to live and work. Yet like virtually all of its counterparts, it faces many challenges. By studying these issues, city leaders can start to assess their impact while exploring how smart technology can ease these problems and create a better living environment.

Great city, great expectations

In a very happy coincidence, our work coincides with the Great Exhibition of the North (GEOTN). During this summer-long celebration, which lasts from 22nd June to 9th September, the sensors installed in both Mosley Street and neighbouring Neville Street, will be merged with information from existing sources, including Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory to gather detailed insights on:

  • Parking space availability
  • Traffic congestion patterns
  • Causes of air pollution
  • Refuse disposal management
  • Street lighting
  • Road surface quality

Making the invisible visible

Of course, none of us is naïve enough to assume that technology alone can solve every problem. Nevertheless, identifying an issue and understanding its impact represents a logical step to working out a solution.

For example, Artificial intelligence (AI) and video analytics will help the city predict road surface wear and tear, helping avoid the disruption of emergency repairs – and potholes. Meanwhile, analytics could help councils monitor whether fines for illegal or polluting behaviours can actually reduce occurrences of misdemeanours and help change behaviour for the better.  And information on pollution, waste disposal and traffic patterns can help the city explore how to make the city a healthier place to live, work and visit.

Going back to GEOTN, Cisco Kinetic for Cities will let visitors experience smart city technology applications directly, in both the smart street area and via screens throughout the city, which will be integrated with the exhibition Wayfinding App. The screens will also display smart street data – literally making the invisible visible for everyone.

What comes around…

With Stephenson’s Rocket is back in its rightful home in time for GEOTN, things really do seem to have turned full circle for Newcastle upon Tyne. At the same time, it continues to become smarter by the day, as evidenced by the announcement of a new National Innovation Centre for Data, based in Newcastle Helix, the city’s new urban innovation centre.

It’s an incredibly exciting time, but let’s not forget that the whole point of making communities smarter is to benefit residents, businesses – and the millions of anticipated visitors to GEOTN. And as the enabler of almost every Internet connection in the UK, the infrastructure we leave behind will provide a lasting, worthwhile legacy of a fantastic summer of fun and progress.

Using technology to create happier, healthier more efficient communities – that’s what I call a truly smart outcome.

For information on our smart communities portfolio, including Cisco Kinetic for Cities, visit our website or contact us directly.

Image via Flickr (CC) Herdiephoto

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