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Smart City Cluster in the Thames Valley – How can smart city thinking make a difference in Reading and other parts of the Thames Valley?
Rob McDonald, Director of Smart Infrastructure at Peter Brett Associates will deliver the next Reading 2050 lecture. Here he outlines the main themes of his presentation.
We are living through a time of unprecedented change both in terms of the rate of change in technology but also in the challenges we face. Council budgets are under increasing financial pressure to deliver their core services with worse to come with an aging population and Reading is no exception. At the same time climate has come to the fore and Reading has joined a large number of authorities across the UK in declaring a climate emergency with the aim to be carbon neutral by 2030, a challenge of a scale which should not be underestimated.
A smart city approach to thinking needs to be at the core of our response to these challenges, tackling our big challenges from a wide range of perspectives, breaking down the silos between specialisms and better engaging with the people who live, shop and work in our town. Whilst there in an inference that smart cities are all about the technology, the optimum solution may not be technology led.
Reading Borough Council is the lead authority for the Thames Valley Berkshire, Smart City Cluster project which is acting as a catalyst to accelerate smart city thinking, building on existing cross authority and cross sector working within the authorities. It is a £1.73m internet of things (IoT) based project funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). This lecture will set out how the project has formed in the way that it has, balancing the need of the authorities with available funding opportunities. It will set out where we are, give an overview of the first round of challenges issued to industry and the next steps with the project.
Rob is a Director of Smart Infrastructure at Peter Brett Associates, now part of Stantec. He has over 25 years of experience in transport planning and ITS with a key focus on research, innovation and knowledge sharing through UK and European funding. In recent years Rob had developed his focus from intelligent transport systems to a wider smart cities approach, recognising the need to break out of individual siloes to deliver the places that we want to live in in the future. Rob secured funding and is now leading a LEP funded Smart City Cluster project in Berkshire that will be calling on industry, in the first instance, to address challenges around Council services for vulnerable people. Rob is also a keen advocate of embracing disruptive technology changes that will influence the way we travel and is working with his new colleagues in Stantec to bring in their leading-edge experience such as in shared autonomous vehicles.
The lecture is part of the ‘Economy and Employment’ theme of the Reading 2050 lecture series, which provide a platform to discuss how Reading should evolve into a smarter and more sustainable city by 2050 (www.reading2050.co.uk )
Admission to the lecture is free.
The SBE, Barton Wilmore and Reading UK, established the Reading 2050 group in 2013. The Reading 2050 lecture series is structured around three themes, which underpin the Reading 2050 vision:
*Place and Environment
*People and Lifestyle
*Economy and Employment
In 2017, the School brought together expert speakers to discuss Reading’s heritage and history, the future of its transport and energy and the impact of climate change and floods. A discussion on Reading’s Art and Culture was facilitated in 2018, and there are other Reading 2050 events planned for 2019.