Smart Transport

Sunderland named Smart City of the Year 2020

Patrick Melia: Sunderland is determined to become a leading UK smart city

Sunderland has claimed the UK top spot in the national competition that celebrates digital transformation and is organised by the global initiative ‘Digital Leaders’.  

Sunderland City Council earned the top prize at the Digital Leaders Awards, excelling above 10 other nominated cities from across the UK, including Belfast and Edinburgh.

A solution for traffic mapping to inform future traffic flow and allow real-time traffic management was one of the key developments that helped Sunderland gain the top spot.

Sunderland was joined by Cardiff and Stockport in the final three to be named the UK’s smartest city.

The award for Smart City of the Year recognises places that have prioritised digital transformation for the wider benefit, providing an array of services and creating opportunities for communities and businesses alike.

The work of Sunderland City Council and a host of partners resulted in Sunderland’s shortlisting to the top 10 in June this year.

This was followed by a public vote placing the city in the top three finalists of the Digital Leaders 100 List for 2020.

The concluding round of judging saw a panel of experts determine the ultimate winner, announced at the Digital Leaders 100 awards ceremony on the evening of October 15.

The Council said the result is testament to Sunderland’s longstanding and upcoming digital leaders, as well as the commitment of chief executive Patrick Melia and the Sunderland City Council Smart City Programme team led by Liz St Louis, assistant director of Smart Cities, as well as numerous partners and collaborators for making their mark in such a short period of time.

Melia said: “Our ambitious plans have forged many technological partnerships between the council, businesses, educators and other specialists; all of which are enabling digital growth across the city.

“We know that our sustainable and smart technologies will enable the city to overcome both economic and social challenges for years to come.”

Outcomes and successes to date, include:

  • Upgrades to digital infrastructure connecting the city through the continuing rollout of free ultrafast public wi-fi with download speeds surpassing the first 5G cities
  • Local school, Hudson Road Primary, speeds increased from 13Mb to over 650Mb, enabling virtual teaching and on-line coding clubs
  • Social housing tower block tenants in the city centre also benefiting from free ultrafast connectivity
  • Transport solution for traffic mapping to inform future traffic flow and allow real-time traffic management
  • Expansion of the National Assistive Technologies test-bed, delivering solutions into more than 350 properties to enable vulnerable people to live safely at home, reducing social care intervention
  • Investment securing plans for ubiquitous connectivity to all Sunderland premises

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Keynote speakers included: 

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

Keith Williams, co-author of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, who spoke on rail’s role in integrated transport, decarbonisation and innovation.

Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.


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