Building a Smarter City on the Cloud in Sunderland

(Photo by Mrs Logic)

It’s been a great week. IBM and Sunderland City Council jointly announced a deal we agreed recently to build a Cloud Computing platform for the City (here’s IBM’s press release, and here’s the Council’s). I was part of the team that wrote IBM’s proposal, and am now excited to be working closely with the Council to help them deliver the benefits we both envisage coming from their investment.

The press release describes several ways in which Sunderland intend to exploit the Cloud to stimulate innovation and growth in business and public services in the city. How I hope to help them do that on IBM’s part is by exploiting our experiences working with clients around the world on “Smarter City” engagements.

For example, I was lucky enough earlier this year to meet the New York Conference of Mayors and the team in IBM Research led by David Cohn and Juhnyoung Lee that delivered the “Municipal Shared Services Cloud” for City and Town Councils in the State. In that project IBM helped some very small local authorities (looking after towns with just 20,000 inhabitants, for example) to integrate data between different business systems in a very cost effective way, achieving “joined up working” cost and outcome benefits that had previously been beyond their reach. It’s that sort of experience and expertise that we hope to apply in Sunderland to help the City meet its goals as laid out in their Economic Masterplan.

I’ve already met with some of the other stakeholders in the city, such as Sustainable Enterprise Strategies, who support local social enterprises, and are building a fantastic new “container city” incubation facility from re-purposed shipping containers. We’re hoping to hold a workshop with the organisations they support very shortly.

It’s probably the most enjoyable and rewarding project I’ve worked on in many years for IBM; and Sunderland is a city with a lot of exciting plans. As The Register noted, for example, the Cloud builds on Sunderland’s recent announcement that they’ll soon be the first city in the country with complete superfast Broadband coverage.

Everyone I’ve told about the project has immediately caught the enthusiasm we have about working with Sunderland; and a quick search of “Sunderland Cloud” on Google or Twitter shows that the story is spreading like wildfire in the twittersphere too.

I’m looking forward to spending as much time as possible in the North East for the foreseeable future!

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About Rick Robinson
I’m the Director of Technology for Amey, one of the UK's largest engineering and infrastructure services companies, and part of the Ferrovial Group. Previously, I was IBM UK's Executive Architect for Smarter Cities. You can connect with me on Linked-In and as @dr_rick on Twitter. The views expressed here are my own.

11 Responses to Building a Smarter City on the Cloud in Sunderland

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