Nottingham is famous for it's history.  But what about it's future?

It was the birthplace of Boots The Chemist, Raleigh Bicycles, John Player Cigarettes and Paul Smith Clothing.  It is the home to famous grounds like Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, Nottingham Forest Football Club and the oldest football club in the league, Notts County

Sporting legends like Brian Clough, Torvill & Dean and Stuart Broad, Cricket Legend amongst the many, have their roots firmly planted in Nottingham.

And while we are on the subject of roots, of course Nottingham is probably most famous for Sherwood Forest, The Major Oak and the iconic Robin Hood, Maid Marion and the evil Sheriff Of Nottingham.

Robin Hood statue at Nottingham castle

It's All History

Ok, so thats the heritage of Nottingham, but what about the FUTURE of Nottingham.

The city is thriving, particularly in the area of academic study.  Nottingham has two highly rates Universities, The University Of Nottingham with its ties to groundbreaking medical study with the Queens Medical Centre.

There's also Nottingham Trent University, that is relatively new in university terms, having previously been a 'trendy polytechnic' back in the day, but just this week, being awarded 'The Times University Of The Year 2017' for its academic prowess and the way it is working as an 'inclusive' university for students with special needs, along with a handful of other prestigious awards for the way it provided great educational opportunities to all over the last few years.

And NTU in particular has invested millions of pounds in buildings and development in the city centre, it's Clifton Campus and at the moment at its Brackenhurst Campus out near Southwell.  So, the city centre is already quite cosmopolitan, with more and more 'al fresco' eating & drinking venues, trendy brands and renowned nightlife across the city, the recently renovated Victoria Shopping Centre with its massive video screen above one of the main entrances, it's about to get another massive upgrade in the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre with a £41m redevelopment scheme underway to redevelop a large area that sits unused at the moment.

Future NOW

So, that's all great and well, but what about the REAL FUTURE of Nottingham?

Where's the parking bay for the flying cars going to be?  Where are advertising agencies going to place those billboards that scan your retina and deliver a customised advert as you walk by (like those seen in the film Minority Report) and how on earth are we going to deal with all the data?  Well, there's no reason we can't follow the model of another city.  I mean, a city is a city, right?  WRONG!

Silicon Valley

The city of Palo Alto in California, USA is a 'smart city'.  You can visit http://data.cityofpaloalto.org/home right now and retrieve a vast amount of data about the city, its people, facilities and services.

These guys have a 'Pavement Condition Index' for every street in the city to identify pavements that need cleaning or repair.  Residents can use a simple app to notify of any issues such as rubbish or damage!

These guys have EVERY tree in the city geotagged on google maps and you can see the 'status' of each tree, its location how tall it is, how wide the canopy is, the type of tree it is and so on;

Tree Locations In Palo Alto

And its not just records for the sake of records.

It means that if a resident has a tree becoming unruly they can report it easily.  The local authority have data on who's responsible for the tree, who the  contractor paid to maintain public trees are, all simply collected together rather than post it notes sitting on an over worked, under paid groundskeepers desk.

And even the status of reports made by the public is available for anyone to download or connect to!  Its insane.  It take 'accountability'  and responsibility to new heights.  Its also incredibly cool!  Just think of the opportunities!

I mean, their site provides Government employee salaries, registry of businesses in the city and even, wait for it, a list of 'uncashed cheques' belonging to city residents!!!

So lets, for a minute, take this 'data' and pretend its 'Nottingham data'. Imagine the possibilities...

Oh, The Possibilities...

Imaging having all public rubbish bins made 'smart' with a sensor inside that monitors the level of waste and when its full have a refuse collection at the right time before its overflowing.  Then, lets add an automated trash collector (I'm thinking Wall-E) come and empty the bin, completely autonomously!  Sounds 'futuristic', right?  Well, Palo Alto are nearing that sort of autonomy TODAY, people, NOW!

So now imagine cars reporting pot-holes and a little tarmac robot drives over and fills it, Automated road sweepers triggered after a heavy leaf fall, transport systems running perfectly to time because smart traffic lights manage traffic super efficiently and power being used more efficiently as local businesses use sensors to turn store lighting off when the store is closed.

So my question is.. If Nottingham has had such an amazing history, particularly in the area of innovation and imagination, why can't we do it now?  I'd like to think the answer is, "of course we can do it, where do we start"?

Funding, Grants & Funding 

There are SO MANY opportunities for making Nottingham SMART.

There are many regional grants and funding opportunities available via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Nottingham City Council and the local universities even have an 'Enabling Innovation' programme to help local SME's innovate and grow their super creative, inspirational and aspirational ideas.

There are so many new and exciting technologies coming into the ring, like 5G, LoRaWAN and 802.11ax Wifi, coupled with more and more IoT devices and micro sensors, the impossibilities are very quickly becoming possibilities, but this isn't about large corporations stepping in and overthrowing rule with their might, no, no.  This is about a city of inventors, city of inspiring individuals that make up an amazing community.  We can do this together, for everyone.

So, don't just sit there watching SciFi TV, looking at all the wonderful high tech and cool things they have in 'the future'.  Why can't we have those things NOW, in OUR CITY?

We can.  But it takes people like YOU to make it happen.

If you want to find out more about research and development support with one of the universities in Nottingham, drop me a line or you can email Nottingham Trent university at workingwithyou@ntu.ac.uk for more information.

Nottingham Capital Of Culture 2023 Poster