Government agency Innovate UK has awarded funding to four IoT start-ups working on solutions to urban space problems in UK cities.
The four forward-looking enterprises pitched ideas to briefs set by judges from West Midlands’ public transport service Centro, outdoor marketing agency Clear Channel Outdoor, engineering leader Atkins and Transport for London (TfL). The problems centred around improving congestion in some of the UK’s major cities, and each company has received £35,000.
The winners included Crowd Connected, who overcame fierce competition in the Urban Spaces Contest to devise an IoT strategy to tackle congestion on London’s underground network. Crowd Connected founder James Cobb, said: “This is an accelerating process. [Working with] TfL will enable us to grow our technology into a new area that would have been much slower without its assistance”.
Crowd Connected specialise in technology that supports crowd congestion management, and the company’s core capability makes use of GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile signals and Bluetooth beacons to monitor crowds in real-time, which should be easily applicable to London’s Underground network.
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Specifically, the TfL brief was looking for innovative ways to display crowd information to the travelling public, highlighting carriages to avoid or choose based on how many people are present. Crowd Connected will now receive £35,000 funding and support from the capital’s transport service to produce a prototype.
Other winners included Accelogress, who will help drivers in Birmingham find parking spaces faster through the use of its connected ‘Save-a-Space’ app. West Midlands transport provider Centro set a brief to solve the problem of commuters missing trains because of car park queues, and Accelogress will use the funding to push along its app which is already trialling with local authorities as part of the European Union’s frontierCities programme.
The two other winners, Yello Brick and Blockbuilders, will introduce the concept of ‘Bus Stop Buddies’ and assist city planners using MineCraft respectively. Each company will work with a selected industry partner to produce a prototype to tackle tube over-crowding, community engagement, journey management and open spaces.
Speaking exclusively with Internet of Business earlier today, Ben Morris, project manager at NTT Data, said that “a smart city is only as smart as the infrastructure, and technology, put in place to enable effective management of it.
“British start-ups will play a leading role in instigating innovative ideas alongside IT suppliers, app developers, local government and their constituents. The pressure is on to give the UK’s cities a smart facelift and ensure they are running more efficiently, and the key to that is the considered and sustainable implementation of cutting-edge technology”.