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UrbanTide: We believe we can make our cities better

We are smart cities and digital experts. We focus on working with people, technology and data to help make organisations, and ultimately our cities, smarter. We believe that together we can make our cities better.

Smart cities is a global industry of huge potential, estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion by the year 2020. For the first time in history, more people live in cities than don’t. This trend looks set to continue as by 2050, 70% of the global population will live in urban environments.

The current state of play is that no city has truly reached complete smart city status. To do so lots of different factors have to harmonise, the dots within technology, data and citizen engagement with a huge amount in between have to be joined – and UrbanTide focus on doing just that.

As UrbanTide’s Pippa Gardner writes;

“Cities are the engine room for growth, have a higher GDP per head of population, bring together benefits and economies of scale and can provide a hotbed for innovation.

But this growth opportunity has to be balanced, improving the quality of life for citizens and reducing environmental footprints. Current resource use is unsustainable and this creates a challenge for our cities and communities – the management and operation of cities needs to change.”

Polar opposing ideas can present themselves when the word ‘city’ is mentioned. On the one hand, the minds eye conjures a gleaming metropolis, a centre for government, business, the arts and sport. Buildings scrape the sky and plummet through the underground infrastructures catering to every whim of modern convenience.

People communicate, technology flourishes and the brightest and best flock there to better themselves, others and where they live.

The other interpretation we have is the crumbling, crowded, Gotham-esque ruins of an environment that have become too big to function. A civic jungle characterised by waste, crime, inefficiency and inequality. Grey breezeblocks oppress not only the skyline they inhabit but also the souls they house. The brightest and best chance its perils only for the working day before returning to the conservative security of the suburbs – disconnected but safer.

The reality is obviously somewhere in the middle of these two extremes – UrbanTide exists to make sure progress towards the first scenario prevails.

We specialise in designing and optimising digital services to accommodate this growing, majority preference towards city living. 

We aim to significantly contribute to the emergence of truly smart cities and facilitate their permanence.

What are Smart Cities?

But what do we mean by the term, ‘smart city’? It is highly difficult to pin down a universal definition, as the rhetoric and research in the area is in a constant state of flux. A solid effort comes from 

Anthony Townsend the author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia:

“I define smart cities as places where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects and even our bodies to address social, economic and environmental problems”.

UrbanTide have streamlined this a tad – but the sentiment is largely the same. 

‘The smart city focuses on developing the capacity for innovation and the ability to deliver effective solutions – making best use of digital technology, data and most importantly, people.’

The beauty of this industry lies in the fact that the solutions to the constant and innumerable challenges posed by most of the world's population living in urban environments could drastically improve our cities, not just maintain the status quo on a larger scale.

We are forced to innovate and make full use of the resources that are available.

Cross-sector experience

To this end, UrbanTide has a wealth of cross industry sector experience including; managing large transformation, systems implementation and business improvement programmes in both the public and private sectors.

On the 20th of June, UrbanTide was instructed by the Scottish Government to carry out an assessment of smart cities readiness and to develop an investment roadmap for Scotland’s 7 cities.

At the time of writing, workshops have been held in Perth, Dundee and Stirling to great success. Aberdeen and Inverness will be happening in the coming weeks and the response has been highly encouraging.

Smart City Framework and international development

Earlier this year, Steven and Pippa were heavily involved in the process to create PAS 181 Smart City Framework for the British Standards Institution (BSI). This PAS establishes a “good practice framework for city leaders to develop, agree and deliver smart city strategies that can help transform their city’s ability to meet its future challenges and deliver its future aspirations”.

Further afield, Steven has just returned from Smart Cities MEED, a conference in Dubai and Simon is currently spreading the UrbanTide message on a Scottish Development international (SDI) Trade Mission to India.

UrbanTide’s expertise is in demand domestically and globally and we ensure that we keep our finger on the pulse both at home and abroad.

 

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