Opportunity Peterborough and Smarter Cities

This interview with Trevor Gibson from Opportunity Peterborough talks about their pilot project to map local environmental data to Google Earth as part of the IBM Smarter Cities project . Broadcast at 08:35 on Wednesday 17th March 2010 in Paul Stainton’s BBC Peterborough Breakfast Show.

This interview with Trevor Gibson from Opportunity Peterborough talks about their pilot project to map local environmental data to Google Earth as part of the IBM Smarter Cities project . Broadcast at 08:35 on Wednesday 17th March 2010 in Paul Stainton’s BBC Peterborough Breakfast Show.

PS: A new project which will monitor the carbon footprint of residents and businesses like you, me, him and her across the city has been launched. Opportunity Peterborough has teamed up with IBM to produce a website which will show energy and water usage along with recycling rates for wards across the city. It looks pretty impresive actually. There’s a picture in a local magazine this morning. It’s a first for the UK, and the dream is that it will turn Peterborough into the country’s leading sustainable city. Trevor Gibson is from Opportunity Peterborough. Good morning Trevor.
TG: Good morning.
PS: I like the look of this. It looks pretty good. It’s very pretty indeed. Does it cost us anything, first of all.
TG: Well it’s initially a partnership between Peterborough City Council and Opportunity Peterborough, paid for, a relatively small pilot actually, and IBM and Green Ventures, and Royal Haskoning have come on board and formed a sort of an association of consultancies, if you like, to work on something that we think will be really dramatic for the city, and is already being taken an interest in by many organisations outside of the UK.
PS: Yes. Can you explain what it is exactly, in layman’s terms?

TG: Yes. People will be used to seeing and using Google Earth these days, and essentially that’s what we use as the platform, as the underlying picture. But what we’re able to do through the work of IBM and Royal Haskoning and others is to display environmental information for the city on Google Earth. So instead of appearing as a fairly boring map, or a shaded in picture, this will actually be 3-D. You’ll be able to zoom in and out, rotate the city, interrogate particular things, we’re looking initially at energy and water usage in the city as well as the environment business sector, and the images that you’ve already seen relate to the work we’ve done so far.
PS: It all looks very very nice, very spangly, but what’s the point?
TG: Well the points .. it works on two levels actually. We’ve worked with many of the big companies like EDF, organisations like the Environment Agency, Anglian Water and so on, and what we’ve found is that all of those organisations work very separately when they’re planning the growth of a city. The city has aspirations, Peterborough has aspirations to grow, and what this will enable those organisations, including the City Council and Opportunity Peterborough, to do, is to discuss things in real-time, in 3-D, and really look how the city grows, and the impact of that growth on what they need to provide in the future. So that’s at one level, the big decision making tool, if you like. At the other level what we hope to do, by eventually plugging in real-time information, so you can see how things are happening literally at the moment you log on, would be for you and I, perhaps taking an interest in our environment, in our own area, and there’d be a lot of information on there for instance around Glinton, because they’ve done a lot of work at a very local level, where you’ll be able to see the impact of what you’re doing, on the global environmental picture. And if we’re all going to tackle climate change, actually apart from the big companies, a lot of it’ll be down to what you and I do in our daily lives.
PS: So you’ll be hoping that people will log on, are surprised by the carbon footprint perhaps in their area, and think, I’d better start switching off some lights here, and using less water, you know. We’re shamed a bit here.
TG: Yes. And another level from that might be we’ve described it very simplistically as putting, being able to put a digital pin in a digital map. So it might be that people, and this is particularly the bit that’s interested Government officials, it might be that people can put in a pin in the map in virtual space, if you like, saying this is what I’m doing. I’m proud of it. I’ve bought a more energy efficient car, I’ve got an allotment, I’ve now got all of the lights in our house as energy efficient, I use less water. You know, people actually saying, well I’m doing something, and other people going on and saying, crikey, I’m the only person in my village or ward that hasn’t done anything yet, so I’m going to put my pin in. So it builds that sort of groundswell of people changing what they do.
PS: Yes. And what happens next?
TG: Yes well obviously that will have an overall impact on how we see the city. We’ll be able to look at how the carbon footprint is reducing hopefully as a result of all of those actions, and what we’ll be doing as a  partnership is building more data on. So next we’re looking at waste and transport, having initially looked at energy water and business, and gradually improving and increasing the amount of information, and the level to which people can use that information, as time goes by.
PS: Well it certainly looks good Trevor. Thank you for that. Trevor Gibson Director of Environment Capital for Opportunity Peterborough. You want to click on to there, by the way. It’s quite interesting. The website again, Trevor? How do people get to it?

TG: You can err… Caught me on the hop there. If you go to the IBM website ..
PS: Yes.
TG:  ..  you will be able to find it in their Smarter Cities project.
PS: Yes. Or you can log on to www.opportunitypeterborough.co.uk and access it from there. Trevor thank you.


IBM Press release: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/uk/en/pressrelease/29684.wss