Tech deal is another step on the road to smart city status

Cllr Cammy Day is the Depute Leader of the Council
Cllr Cammy Day is the Depute Leader of the Council

Depute Council Leader Councillor Cammy Day writes in today's Evening News.

Edinburgh is fast becoming one of the UK’s leading smart cities and we have real ambition to drive this further and faster in the future, in partnership with a range of bodies and through the work of the City Region Deal. As a Council, we also have a clear ambition to improve and enhance our services in our forthcoming Digital and Smart City Strategy. We see technology increasingly playing a greater role in improving the quality of life for people of all ages, as well as the way we run our services, and that’s why we’re working with one of the world’s leading technology firms to help progress our ambitions. 

Extending our contract with CGI received unanimous support at last week’s Finance and Resources Committee and means that we have secured our partnership and our ability to plan for the longer term with the global ICT provider, until the year 2029. This partnership will help us to innovate, resulting in better services for residents and also for our employees, as we digitise our internal operations as a Council. It will unlock access to technology for many of the challenges a rapidly growing and changing city faces. 

The opportunity for technology to support us to become more sustainable and to respond to the challenge of climate change and achieve our goal to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by the year 2030; or the challenge of digital inclusion and making access to technology fairer for everyone in the city are at the heart of what becoming more digital will help us to address.

Edinburgh is already recognised as ahead of the curve when it comes to data, so it’s no surprise that we’ve just been nominated as ‘Smart City of the Year’ in the Digital 100 Awards. Rather than sit still we need to remain innovative; we can’t be complacent. I believe that a big part of our recovery from the Covid-19 crisis will involve working in different ways to support learning, employment and people’s everyday lives, so I’m excited about the prospects our future investment in digital will bring.  

For example, through our plans to bridge the digital learning gap in schools by investing in technology-enabled learning and Gigabit fibre connections in our schools. We’re also looking to replace our CCTV networks with a more effective digital system. This will help make sure that our local communities are supported and kept safe, for many years to come. 

Other initiatives we’re exploring include using sensor technology in bins to ensure that they’re emptied before they reach capacity, along with intelligent traffic lights to monitor what’s happening on our roads and how we can ease congestion. Both are important for keeping our city moving and as clean and green as possible. We’ll also consider fitting smart sensors into new and existing council houses for early detection of problems with the building, to help to keep people well and houses maintained.

What often sounds futuristic can very soon become normal but the work towards securing these technologies and these changes takes time. I'm looking forward to working with a range of partners, including CGI, and our in-house team, moving from concepts to delivery and creating a genuinely Smart City right here in the capital of Scotland.

Published: September 11th 2020