The Canary Wharf Group has launched the Cognicity Challenge. Backed by Ed Vaizey, the minister of state for culture and digital economy, the programme’s aim is to find the best products and innovations across six key sectors to drive the growth of smart city technology.
The challenge is open to technology start-ups from across the UK and six will be chosen to receive mentoring and training to help bring their products and services to market. Commenting on the scheme, Vaizey said that “…it is crucial that government and industry continue to support businesses developing new technology that will improve the quality of life…” in towns and cities.
Natalie Duffield, CEO of intechnologyWiFi, has made the following comments:
“It is fantastic news that the government is supporting an initiative to make our towns and cities smarter. Despite being a hub for technological innovation, the UK is still some way behind in this area when compared to other parts of the world, such as China.
The Government’s Smart Cities Forum, launched last year, will help us move in the right direction, but more support like this programme needs to be offered – and not just to tech companies, to the cities themselves too.”
“While London may be an obvious place to launch this particular scheme, there are countless other areas of the country that could really benefit from similar programmes – from improving emergency service response times, to supporting under-privileged areas, information technology has the potential to offer us a whole new way of life. However, more focus needs to be placed on end-to-end, integrated solutions, rather than stand-alone technologies – as no matter how compatible they may be to start with, there will always be limitations. More now needs to be done to help towns and cities understand why a more strategic investment will ultimately lead to even smarter cities.
“One of the most effective ways of realising this vision is through the use of wireless networks. Point-to-point and point-to-multi point wireless technologies can interconnect whole areas – from municipal offices to fire stations – and provide myriad opportunities for allowing ever increasing numbers of people and ‘things’ to get online. What is more, while it could be claimed super-fast broadband offers the same connectivity, it also comes with costly line installations and, in an era of tight budgetary constraints, WiFi offers a far more cost-effective and viable solution. In order to ensure that the products that result from the Cognicity Challenge work, we first need to ensure the underlying and essential technology is in place – and wireless technologies will provide that foundation across the country.”