Fast-forward to Smart living in 2020: One day in Digital Birmingham

Posted on: January 26, 2015 by Albert Seubers

What will life actually look like for citizens and businesses in 2020? Once more I am delighted to introduce Raj Mack, Head of Digital Birmingham, who joins us today as a guest blogger to share his vision on the subject in relation to the city of Birmingham. — Albert Seubers, global strategy & business development ICT in Cities at Atos International.

Atos - Fast-forward to Smart living in 2020: One day in Digital Birmingham

Imagine living in a city that connects healthcare services to your home; measures parking fares based on current traffic levels and lets you pay for public transport with your smartphone. It might sound like something from Minority Report, but in Birmingham, we’re not that far from making these types of digital services a reality. In my last post, I discussed our vision for creating a connected, smart and people-led Birmingham and some of the projects we’re working on today. But what will life actually look like for citizens and businesses in 2020?


Smart living

We’re working with partners to link up primary care GP centers with virtual healthcare facilities. This will enable citizens to obtain a remote consultation via their smartphone and get access to the latest health and lifestyle advice at their fingertips. The next stage will be to introduce telehealth services, which will enable doctors to communicate with their patients without them having to leave home, via video link.


Mobility t around Birmingham is being totally revolutionized, which is significantly easing congestion along the main commuter corridors at peak travel times. We’ve developed parking systems which enable us to charge different fare rates based on the time of day and level of congestion in the area. In terms of paying for transport, we already introduced our contactless payment system, Swift, many years ago and we have worked with city partners to develop a mobile platform that let citizens use their smart devices to pay for their travel. We envisage this platform spanning a range of transport systems – from local train services and buses, even taxis, so you can have a seamless payment process regardless of the mode of transport.


Smart working

In 2020, we will have created a smart city infrastructure that will attract new businesses and support accelerated expansion of our SMEs. Our SMEs will be based in highly energy and resource efficient offices, important to them in managing their carbon footprint and reducing the energy demands of their business operations.

Our smart city will provide drop-in work spaces as well as the use of state-of-the-art meeting rooms and spaces to create ideas and run global demos. These will be fitted with high-speed connectivity and access to shared services, ICT support and HD video conferencing that can be booked via workers’ smartphones. These drop-in spaces will be set in a city center urban park and equipped with bike2go schemes, enabling staff to travel easily and safely into the city center.

Developers have taken a digital-first approach to constructing these new resource-efficient office buildings, enabling lighting, heating and escalators to be monitored and controlled at a touch of a button. This helps building owners to manage their carbon footprint more effectively and reduce the energy demands of their business operations.

SMEs will be able to access a new skills portal, which will enable them to tap into a pool of talented graduates and apprentices and meet their flexible recruitment needs. An employer apprenticeship scheme, managed by the local further education college, will provide businesses with immediate access to apprentices on a short term basis, to ease up pressure on demanding projects and tight deadlines. The apprentices are well versed in using Birmingham’s Data Factory, where they have access to real-time data, to help them innovate and develop new services and business models.

Some of these projects are already underway and we’re excited about what the future might look like for our citizens and businesses. Looking ahead, we must keep abreast of which technologies will be relevant in several years’ time since the pace of innovation is incredibly rapid. We are assessing which technologies will have the biggest impact on people and services in the city and prioritizing our roadmap accordingly. Using our blueprint, we’re confident that we’re introducing the relevant smart services for our citizens to create a more connected and people-centric city by 2020.

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About Albert Seubers
Director Global Strategy IT in Cities and member of the Scientific Community
Albert H Seubers (1959) graduated at Agricultural University Wageningen in 1985. Ever since he worked in IT consultancy focused on governmental topics. He worked for Dutch Telecom implementing the first fiber networks in Netherlands, for CMG as director in the Public Sector Service group, for HP as Public Sector executive before he joined Atos. Since 2011 he is Director Global Strategy IT in Cities for Atos. The Atos MyCity program focusses on the virtuous circle of managing a city on all aspects as safety, citizen services, employment, education, social and health care, transport and traffic, sustainability and governance and economics. Engaging citizens and business communities to create and maintain a sustainable, safe and prosperous city is the key message in Atos MyCity. In his role he works with cities all over the world to help them define their strategy often referred to as a Smart City Strategy or find solutions to support their strategy. Albert is a strong believer in the fact that data is enabler for successfully creating the city of the future.

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