News: Smart City Alliance Supports BCU CityGate Launch

On Wednesday 1st May 2019 IAWM’s Smart City Alliance had the pleasure of supporting Birmingham City University (BCU) for the launch of the ‘CityGate’ urban data platform. It was really overwhelming to see such a great turnout at Millennium Point, Birmingham, with over 50 regional innovation experts coming together to engage with our ‘data’ themed event.

The morning kicked off with a special welcome from BCU’s Prof Andrew Aftelak, Head of the School of Computing and Digital Technology followed by a series of data focussed initiatives including Birmingham in Real Time; The Big Data Corridor; and West Midlands 5G, introduced by Dr Adel Aneiba, Associate Professor in IoT. The event was rounded off by a Smart IP session delivered by the Intellectual Property Office and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

The CityGate Platform

CityGate is a new IoT urban data platform created by a team of established academics and students at BCU. In the context of cities, the vision of the CityGate platform is to collect, integrate and analyse big data to improve urban systems and life quality that will lead to smarter and greener cities that are of great importance to billions of people. CityGate is unlocking smart city potential through a connectivity management platform.

CityGate Use Cases to-date

Air Quality:

  • Spatio-temporal analysis of air quality data using advanced time series analysis techniques
  • Applying context-aware data analysis to trace root causes to air pollution

People Counting:

  • Applying density-based clustering methods to trace movement of people
  • Applying time series analysis to better understand the spatio-temporal crowd movement

Inductive Loop:

  • Continuous monitoring of traffic flow, and reporting unexpected low and high flows
  • Real-time analysis of the flow using advanced time series data mining methods to trace possible issues

CityGate Future Work

Research & Development:

  • Developing a novel data model for an urban environment
  • Developing predictive models for many critical applications/use cases
  • Developing smart solutions for several city challenges
  • Providing public access to collected data to local business and research communities

Training & Consultancy:

  • Providing high quality executive training around urban computing
  • Providing support to local authorities and businesses to accelerate their smart city services development strategies
  • Providing technical support to SMEs to build their capacity in the smart city domain

To engage with CityGate contact Adel here

Birmingham in Real Time 

Birmingham in Real Time (BiRT) is a project aiming to provide a real-time data platform for all things related to Birmingham through the collection, analysis, transformation and delivery of actionable data from a range of sources. In the wider scope, BiRT is aiming to create value through combining a range of existing and new data sources, such as car parking data, public transport, air quality, cycling etc.

The project will deliver this transformed data openly, allowing decision-makers, service-creators, analysts and the public to use it freely to improve life in Birmingham.

The work currently undertaken is developing a web Application Programming Interface (API) to facilitate and simplify the process of analysing traffic in Birmingham and assist Birmingham City Council staff in detecting and managing issues and accidents much quicker and more reliably.

BiRT was born out of the ERDF project Innovation Engine 2 and developed into a standalone undertaking. It is currently led by the Digital Media Technology Lab at Birmingham City University and funded by WMCA.

You can find out more about Birmingham in Real Time here

Big Data Corridor

Big Data Corridor is a 3 year project running until October 2019 on data support for local businesses funded by partners and ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).

The project provides:

  • 12 hours of business assistance which includes an initial diagnostic and assessments, as well as defining subsequent support
  • Collaborations – transferring good ideas, research results and skills to enable innovative new products and services to be developed

Example projects:

  • A high performance, scalable distributed big data storage repository
  • Using wearable tech for supporting the well-being of patients with type 2 diabetes
  • Open data to implement a route planner to encourage walking, running and cycling

You can find out more about Big Data Corridor here


In 2016 UK Government announced its intention to invest in a nationally coordinated programme of 5G testbed facilities and trials, as part of over £1bn of funding announced to boost the UK’s digital infrastructure.

The 5G Testbeds and trials Programme at DCMS was set up as a centre of excellence in 2017, to press forward the work in this area. The Programme aims to encourage and fund the creation of a series of Testbeds and Trials in a range of geographic and vertical market segments. It will explore the benefits and challenges of deploying 5G technologies in line with the following key objectives:

  • aim to stimulate market development and deployment of 5G technology and infrastructure in the UK
  • create new opportunities for businesses, developing capability and skills, and encouraging inward investment
  • ensure the UK secures an ‘early mover advantage’ in the investment and development of capability and skills as future 5G products, services and applications evolve

Testbeds will help industry understand the challenges of deploying new technologies according to the developing international standards for future 5G networks. Testing 5G applications will help prove different applications (use cases), bringing ideas closer to commercial viability for future markets.

West Midlands 5G

On 4th September 2018, UK Government announced their preferred partner as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for their Urban Connected Communities Project. The Urban Connected Communities Project will develop a large-scale, 5G pilot across the West Midlands region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Mak Sharma, currently seconded to the WMCA, provided an update on West Midlands 5G (WM5G).

WM5G primarily bases itself on four priority test bed areas – Citizen wellbeing; Manufacturing; Construction; and Mobility – before extending regionally.

Smart IP

Ben Kirsch, West Midlands Policy Officer at the Intellectual Property Office and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, presented on a range of tools that have been developed to help industry as they embark on collaborative smart city projects.

The Opportunity:

  • Huge emerging market with many segments to be captured
  • Potential for valuable IP creation
  • Consider IP early
  • Be prepared for collaboration

There is a need for more support to facilitate IP terms in collaborative agreements between businesses. IPOs new B2B toolkit will equip UK businesses with the skills they need to successfully collaborate whilst taking control of how IP is managed and commercialised. The toolkit aims to help businesses recognise and consider how IP is protected and utilised prior to, and during the collaboration, and owned/managed/licenced following on from the completion of the collaboration.

What does the B2B Toolkit do?

‘Think before you Collaborate’ checklist sets out the major considerations ahead of a collaboration

Calculates a business’ collaboration ‘readiness score’ and provides businesses with a personalised to-do-list which outlines key actions, things to double check and/or highlights the reasons why it is important

Provides businesses with a template collaboration term sheet and materials transfer agreement, which allows collaborations to set out various aspects of their collaborations prior to executing agreements legally

Presents a guide to IP which also signposts to other IP resources and helps businesses identify IP and its ownership

The B2B Toolkit launches soon, and we will be sure to share the details as soon as it does. In the meantime you can check out other IPO support including their IP for Business resources here and IP for universities/research here.

Next Steps

Three areas emerged from the event, which IAWM will engage with stakeholders to further investigate:

  • Local Authority planning barriers
  • Democratising skills and enabling social enterprise
  • Data ownership and value from data

We will be in touch shortly to engage your thoughts. In the meantime we thank everyone for their continued support for the Smart City Alliance as it goes from strength to strength.

(Author: Iain Mansell, IAWM)