May’s steering group meeting of the Birmingham Smart City Alliance, held in Baskerville House thanks to the generous hospitality of Birmingham Science City, was an energetic meeting that welcomed four exciting new initiatives in the West Midlands.
A neighbourhood scale Smart City demonstrator
Digital Birmingham described a new neighbourhood-scale Smart City demonstrator project that is being put together with local and national stakeholders under the guidance of the Smart City Commission. The project will tackle issues including sustainable passenger and freight travel; citizen engagement; health and wellbeing; civic enterprise; and digital skills. The next shaping workshop for the project will be held on 2nd June. Please contact Digital Birmingham for more details, or make contact with the Alliance by commenting on this blog or through the Alliance’s Linked In group.
We discussed a new “Digital Leaders” programme for individuals and organisations across the UK involved in delivering sustainable and innovative digital transformation. The programme is intended to promote digital expertise and the adoption of technology, and is led by Cabinet Office. An Alliance member is taking a national role to support the programme and looking for collaborators to support it in the West Midlands. For more details, make contact with the Alliance by commenting on this blog or through the Alliance’s Linked In group.
Supporting Healthier Food Preferences
We also learned about “Supporting Healthier Food Preferences“, a new healthy eating initiative supported by “The Lancet” medical journal, intended to tackle obesity in Birmingham, including child obesity, and issues such as the saturation of many shopping centres by fast food outlets. The initiative will ask what business is prepared to contribute towards the healthy eating agenda; and what the public sector is prepared to contribute.
The fast food market has grown across the country – aided by online services such as “Just Eat” – but many local authorities are seeking to restrict them. Birmingham currently limits “fast food” usage of retail space to 10%, whilst some other authorities limit it to 5%. However, over half of Birmingham’s shopping centres are already saturated with such outlets by this measure, and many others escape these restrictions as they are classified as “restaurants”. In the meantime, child obesity is a growing challenge in Birmingham – 1 in 4 children in Year 6 are overweight or obese, and rising).
So what can we do? We will be holding a workshop to explore ideas. If you would like to join the workshop, please comment on this blog post or through the Alliance’s Linked In discussion group.
Data Citizen Project
Finally, Julia Higginbotham, Chief Executive of Rewired State, asked our help in connecting Birmingham’s institutions, particularly our Universities, to the “Data Citizen Project” Rewired State are running for the Office for National Statistics to understand the motivations and impact of the use of personal data in finance, education, health and travel. The initiative intends to develop a positive narrative for the use of personal data with consent. Again, if you or your organisation has something to add to the initiative, please make contact through the Alliance’s Linked In group or by commenting on this blog.
Our next steering group meeting is on Wednesday 10th June where we’ll be hearing from a new business-led Skills Action Plan for the digital and technology sectors and about InnovateUK’s new £10m “Internet of Things” demonstrator competition.
Chair of the Birmingham Smart City Alliance Steering Group