#25 Belfast: Smart District or to "Design and Co-Design with Partners"

Episode 31 February 08, 2023 00:41:46
#25 Belfast: Smart District or to "Design and Co-Design with Partners"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#25 Belfast: Smart District or to "Design and Co-Design with Partners"

Feb 08 2023 | 00:41:46


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

Going just a little north from our last episode to the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, we discussed Smart District development, stakeholders engagement, funding sources and more with Deborah Colvillethe City Innovation Manager & Head of Smart Belfast, and with Nikita Shetty, the UK and Ireland Lead and Senior Consultant for BABLE Smart Cities.


BABLE will be at the Autonomy Mobility World Expo in Paris on March 22nd and 23rd. Register now to benefit from the many activities on the programme: Startup Village, City Hub, two conference programs, test tracks, demos, B2B and B2G meetings, startup challenge and innovation award ceremony We hope to see you there!


Overview of the episode:

03:00 - Teaser: A little-known fact about Belfast

04:50 - What is the story behind the Smart Belfast program?

06:40 - What is Deborah's background?

08:30 - What is Nikita's experience with Belfast?

09:40 - Main stakeholders' engagement learnings from the Smart District development in Belfast

11:40 - Why start with a district approach?

15:07 - What were the success factors in accessing funding sources within this project?

20:05 - Political leadership: pieces of advice for cities

24:30 - What about stakeholders who don't have the time or resources?

28:50 - What is the nature of this partnership? Is it more about resource-sharing or strategic decision-making?

31:48 - The Healthy Aging Project

34:26 - Were there any concerns regarding Data Privacy and Security?

36:30 - Roll with the Punches: our guest answers this or that questions quickly and with their first instincts

38:50 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:06 Welcome to Smart in the City - The BABLE Podcast where we bring together top actors in the smart city arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:21 I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope that you'll enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to drive the change for a better urban life. Smart in the City is brought to you by BABLE Smart Cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co-creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at bable-smartcities.eu. So a short intermission to tell you about the Autonomy Mobility World Expo. It's the world's largest annual gathering of international sustainable urban mobility stakeholders. Welcoming 200 plus exhibitors, 300 plus speakers, 8,000 plus participants every year in March. Uh, yeah, some activities, there's a startup village, City Hub, two conference programs, test tracks, demos, B2B and B2G meetings, startup challenge and innovation award ceremony. It will take place on the 22nd through the 23rd of March in Paris, and I will be there and I'm looking forward to it and hope to see you there. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:24 Today we are moving from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland and to the capital city, Belfast. Um, so Belfast, as you know, has a very rich history and is making strides and leaps in the smart city space. Um, I'm sure you've heard a little bit about it, but we're gonna hear from the source now. Um, so I'm really excited to reveal more of this to all of you and, um, welcome our very special guests we have today. So first we have Deborah Colville, who is the city innovation manager and head of Smart Belfast. So welcome Deborah. Deborah Colville 00:01:59 Thank you very much. It's lovely to be here. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:02 Lovely to have you and also to join us today. Um, sitting next to me, I have my dear colleague, Nikita Shetty. Um, she's the UK and Ireland lead and senior consultant for BABLE. And also Ha has quite some history together with Belfast and with Deborah. So you guys know each other well. Um, and you actually, 12 of our listeners, if you go way back in our episodes, if you're one of those committed listeners, you've heard her once before on the podcast. And she also mentioned in that episode actually that the Belfast project was one of her favorites. Uh, so now she's gonna tell you more about it too, um, together with, uh, Deborah. So welcome back Nikita. Nikita Shetty Very glad to be here. Tamlyn. Thank you. Tamlyn Shimizu Yeah, really great. Always to be able to welcome a colleague on with, uh, with a special gasta and get the conversation going. Also, you won't hear me talking as much, which is always a, a good thing if you're, if you're tired of it. So, um, so I always start with the podcast, uh, with a little bit of a teaser, Deborah, so I hope you're ready. So we get warmed up, um, <laugh> and, uh, the teaser that we have prepared today is, I hope you can tell us a fact about Belfast that most people don't know. Do you have an idea? Oh, Deborah Colville 00:03:13 Yeah, that's a good one. Well, the, uh, newsletter was the first paper outside of America to print news about the Declaration of Independence. Now, the ship carrying the first copy of the Declaration of Independence out of America was bound for London, but it ran into heavy storms off the north coast of Ireland, and it was forced to seek refuge in the Port of London Dairy and arrangements were made for the declaration to be sent by a fast horse to Belfast, where it would be passed to another ship for delivery to King George the third in London. And the newsletter editor gained access to the document and printed the complete text on the front page of the paper in August, 1776. So the newsletter first ruled off the presses in Belfast in 1737, and is the old English, English language daily paper still in circulation. And to this day, we have continued to be at the forefront of communications technology. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:16 Wow, that's exciting. That's, that's a great fact. And I don't think most people know that, so, yeah. Very nice. Good. Uh, Nikita, did you prepare a fact <laugh>? Nikita Shetty 00:04:28 I did not <laugh>. I really didn't know about this one for having been in Belfast so many times, so Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:35 No, no, it's okay. I excuse you Deborah Colville 00:04:37 I tried hard with this Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:38 One. Yeah. You wanna compete with that fact? <laugh> Nikita Shetty 00:04:41 No, I don't think I can <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:41 That's okay. That's okay. Yeah, it's a pretty hard one to compete with, so, um, thanks for getting us warmed up, Deborah. So I wonder now, um, if you could give all of our listeners and me, um, it's actually our first time meeting as well, so it's, it's really a pleasure to talk to you and I want to, um, know more about Smart Belfast, like what's the story behind that? And also you can tell us a little bit about how your story kind of intertwines with Smart Belfast as well. Deborah Colville 00:05:10 Okay. Yes. Um, absolutely. Well, our journey, um, with the Smart Belfast program really started in 2017, um, when the council had, um, published its first city plan and its vision for, um, the citizens, um, office city. Um, and there was a real recognition at that time that to realize these ambitions, we needed to start to think differently about how we solve our challenges. Um, and we saw how other cities were adopting new practices, new technologies, um, and we wanted to, to think of new ways that we could deliver, um, for our citizens. So we looked at best practice around the world, examined our own strengths, our our growing digital sector, uh, you know, recognized the fact that we had academic excellence right on our doorstep with two fantastic universities. So we saw a real opportunity to make a difference, and we ran several successful demonstrator projects that, um, proved this approach. And from that we were able then to set up a permanent innovation office in the organization to drive, um, you know, organizational change. But, um, mainly to, um, support the city strategy and the new smart Belfast framework. Then the Urban Innovation Framework was launched in December, 2022. So this is our second program now going forward, and that outlines our ambitions for the next three years. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:38 Wow. That's, uh, and, and how does your story fit into there? Like what is your background, Debra? Deborah Colville 00:06:44 So, my background is, I've always been in the public sector. Uh, my master's, um, was an English systems management. Um, and I've always been fascinated and, and just excited by technology and the, the change that technology can bring, not just the technology itself, but um, how it can be used to, to make life easier and, um, you know, help you people to access, um, services or information. Um, so I've always been really, um, some have always been really interested in, so I would've, um, managed the software estate within <inaudible> city console and also, um, the business transformation programs. And that enabled by technology. And then I very quickly wanted to look outside the console and start to look at some of the big problems that we had in the console and started to realize that, you know, what I knew from technology background, bringing this together with that academic excellence, um, and starting to look at, um, you know, how we can address public policy. Deborah Colville 00:07:45 So, um, you know, it just seemed to be a natural next step to start to look wider than the organization. And I was, you know, we've been very lucky here about Belfast city council from political leadership point of view was at the bathroom from politicians. We, we had a really fantastic, um, chief executive, um, who really backed, um, you know, our plans back then in 2017 and, and, and have a new chief executive who as executive seeing wants for innovation at the heart of the city and at the heart of the organization. So that makes my job a lot easier as well, sort of pushing at an open door. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:08:23 Yeah. Sounds like such an easy job, <laugh>. No, no, it sounds, it sounds like you do a lot, so I'm, I'm glad to get, uh, digging into it. So, um, maybe also Nikita, it would be interesting to know, like, why are you here in this podcast? Like, what is your experience with Belfast? Um, any like, key learnings or your Yeah. Your story. Nikita Shetty 00:08:44 Yes, happy to share. I, uh, started working with Deborah and her team back in 2018. I'm trying to remember <laugh>, which was 2018 or 19, I think, think 19. Uh, so it's been quite some years. And, um, we supported, uh, Deborah and her team and also the neighbouring local authorities with the Belfast Region City deal with the development of the smart and the innovation district. Um, so we actually had a stakeholder consultation program and a co-creation exercise, uh, with several different stakeholders in Belfast and also across the region, um, for the development of the digital and innovation activities within the Belfast Region city deal. So, um, I've spent a lot of time, uh, pre covid in Belfast, uh, with Debra and with her team. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:09:32 Yeah, really interesting. It's always one of my, um, favourite projects to, to hear about, cuz I'm always learning more and more every time someone mentions it again. Uh, and I've learned a lot. Um, maybe, maybe you can mention also about the stakeholder engagement, cuz I think that was a big part of it on, on what you, the main lessons you took away from that work with Belfast. Nikita Shetty 00:09:53 I think for me, so we engaged with Deborah, correct me if I'm wrong, but somewhere around 200 stakeholders, uh, during that period of eight to nine months when we were there. And, um, a lot of them with Deborah and her colleagues from the city innovation team joining us. And, um, for me, one of the main learnings was, you know, how many interesting, relevant ideas that came up during the consultation because the stakeholders know the place so well, they really understand the needs much better. They can connect many of the innovation activities that are already happening. As Deborah mentioned, the ecosystem in Belfast really strong. And the, the council, the universities are working very hard to strengthen this. So it was amazing to learn about, um, innovative project ideas that came up during the consultation. Uh, I think something interesting to mention would be, uh, because Deborah, I read Belfast Harbor is Kickstarting the project very soon for, um, um, autonomous vehicle shuttle bus between the, um, Titanic quarter train station and, uh, the catalyst, uh, so in the, in the Belfast Harbor estate. Nikita Shetty 00:11:06 And it was actually one of the ideas that had come up during the consultation from the stakeholders. They'd mentioned the need, uh, for this because the train station was, uh, far away from, um, you know, the accessibility was not very good. The path was not very safe. So it was one of the ideas that came up back then, and it's amazing to see it being implemented now. So there are many such ideas, but I think that just came up in news last week, uh, this week actually. So, uh, many amazing ideas that came up from the stakeholders that have gone ahead into the framework now. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:37 Yeah. Yeah. That's really nice. Um, so Deborah, also, I, I'm wondering like, from your point of view, why, why start with like a district approach? Um, can you, can you maybe outline a bit of the like, benefits and challenges with this approach? Deborah Colville 00:11:53 Um, yes. Uh, you know, I suppose with the city center, the city center where we're gonna focus our smart dis district, um, activity, um, there is a lot of investment plan investments happening in the city center itself. We have an ambition to transform and city center into our livable city center offering. Um, so they're really ambitious plans and for the whole study, um, you know, over the next 10, 15 years, but a lot of activity focus in, in the city center. Um, and the so was a smart district was a way in which that, um, you know, we could work in a very rich environment, um, for collaborative innovation, um, to deliver on our plans. Its, it's a perfect mix, um, of, you know, multinational companies of innovative local startups and entrepreneurs. Um, we have innovation hubs, we have world class, you know, centers of excellence. Deborah Colville 00:12:53 And as I say, it's a substantial investment in regeneration as well. We've got good digital infrastructure. Um, and suppose this is, um, smart district, it's the place where, um, you know, they, they work, they live, um, they visit, um, and there's just a lot of characteristics, um, that just all came together for us, um, in the, in the smart district, um, and, and placing that in the city center itself. Um, the key thing for us is though it's going to be a proving ground, if you like, for technology and, and working with our citizens very closely in the adoption of new technology. Um, but that's just the first step. Um, because what we want to do then is to be able to replicate and scale that up, um, across, um, the whole office. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:13:42 When, when does that start the replication? Deborah Colville 00:13:46 So, um, well, you know, we've already been trialing testing lots of, uh, projects. Um, we've got a major test there in design at the moment. Um, so we have, um, Belfast Region City Deal, um, that you will be very familiar with, um, Nik. Um, and, uh, you know, we have a process to go through to develop the business cases to draw down one life for some of the major work that, uh, we want to do. Um, but we're still very much focused on, um, our, our initial fees of the smart city development. Um, and some of our projects haven't, I moved out into, um, you know, into, into communities. And one of the projects, hopefully, I'll get a chance to talk about in this podcast, um, will be in our homes for happy ageing. Um, and that's just one example of taking, um, technologies that some of our creative, um, technology companies, um, have developed, um, taken some of the great, um, you know, um, citizen stance approaches from with the universities and actually taken that into to a community to support people and opportunity level. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:14:53 Very, very nice. Uh, yeah. So now I understand that, uh, Nikita has some questions for you too. So, uh, now I get to sit back and relax a little bit and here, you know, you guys get to chat a little, so I'm Nikita Shetty 00:15:05 Very happy to do that. Thank you, Tamlyn. Uh, Deborah, you mentioned the Belfast Region city deal, and I think it has been transformational for Belfast, right? But, um, I remember from our conversations, um, also when we were working together that, um, you've, you know, it wasn't initially the plan to have the digital and innovation parts in the city deal, and you, you kind of really pushed for this. And you've also been successful in accessing many different funding sources. Um, as we've been working with cities over the past years, many cities, regions and so on, highlight the need for funding to kickstart their smart city activities as one of the main challenges. Um, what do you think was, you know, the success factor for, for you when it came to being able to access all these different funding parts previously within the local council and then also moving ahead, um, UK and other funding sources. Um, what do you think worked, uh, for you? Deborah Colville 00:16:03 Um, well, I think the most important thing is that we weren't just about choosing the money, and for us it was about the challenge. What is the problem you can solve? Who does that problem impact? Who can affect change and make things happen? And so we were very careful about making sure that it wasn't about, in the first instance, chasing money. It was about the challenge, but then we very quickly had to work out, okay, where is the money? Um, so you do have to get there some stage because you can't do anything. You don't have the resources. So, um, I think the importance of partnership working and networking mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and agreeing common challenges, trying to develop, you know, win-win scenarios. Um, and for us it was about putting together projects that, um, built on the appetite of our businesses. They give opportunities to businesses, um, it, you know, built on academic research that was already being carried out in that particular area. Deborah Colville 00:17:03 And of course, um, supporting public sector policy development. Um, so it's important that they to understand the funding landscape and once you have your, um, challenge, um, defined, and I think people cut corners with the challenge definition. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it could take a very long time. Um, we had some very successful projects and one particular project, and, you know, it took eight months to define the challenge. Um, because sometimes you have to bring in experts. You do wanna, your processes, you have to identify worse the data, and you wanna maximize the potential for a really good solution or, or idea. And you have to make that easy for academia and for businesses to work together on that, that, um, so I think the other thing that we tried to do was to have some oven baked ideas mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so where you have some partners, um, that you're aligning with around particular challenges, um, to have these developing relationships and most, you know, developing projects to a certain level so that when funding calls come out, um, you know, you can quickly mobilize your partners and you can apply for some of these funding calls and the windows of opportunity are quite short and you wait for a fund to come out, and then you have six weeks to pull together a significant business case. Deborah Colville 00:18:29 So I think getting into that state of readiness, um, is very, is very important. Um, and as you've mentioned, of course, um, you know, the big biggest achievement for us is the fact that we were able to develop a successful business case where we got money from the UK treasury for that digital innovation program as part of the Belfast Region City Deal Um, and that's where we are in trying to bring forward these business cases, um, so that we can get into delivery and make some of these things happen. We've also been lucky that we've, you know, we've got money from the Rockefeller 100, uh, cities program. So we were able to set case the first, um, commissioner, climate commissioner in Belfast. And, you know, we've received money from the department for, from the Department of Finance, and we've received money from a whole range of sources again. And I think that approach of a very focused and targeted challenge, but bringing together that cross sectional approach, um, has been, has worked very well for us. Nikita Shetty 00:19:34 That's, that's a great, um, answer, Deborah. Thank you. So it's more about having, being ready actually, uh, in terms of having that value proposition ready, what you are bringing in, getting the network together much before the call comes out. I definitely agree. I think several times, um, public sector partners are struggling to put together the consortium after the call is out, and that's probably too late, um, already. So I think, um, that's very good advice for the, uh, city's listeners, uh, listening in today. Um, another important point you mentioned was the political leadership and how you were lucky to have this, um, support from the political leaders. I also think, um, you know, you managed, uh, the stakeholders very well, uh, within your ecosystem. So I think it was very impressive when we were working together on how, um, you could get access to these stakeholders, were able to convince them. Nikita Shetty 00:20:31 And, um, I think that was very key in making the project successful when we were working together. Um, do you have any advice for other, uh, city listeners in terms of, you know, what helped there? Because I think there's, there could be a luck factor, but I think, uh, there's also hard work put in there and, you know, a strategy you've used, which I think worked out. So, uh, have there been, um, things that you followed maybe getting their buy-in and so on, regularly keeping them up to date? Or what was it that helped? Deborah Colville 00:21:03 Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, in any partnership there has to be something in it for everyone. So, um, really getting an understanding of the, um, you know, where are the partners coming from, what are they trying to achieve? And sometimes you get a partner engaged cause they think this project signs fantastic. And, when things get tough and when resources get tight, this is when partners can fall off. And because, um, there's not enough to keep them enough. So, um, you know, partners getting in the game needs to be a reason they're gonna put the resource behind it. Sometimes there's money behind it. They need to have a problem they want to be solved. So it's very important to design and co-design with partners and what the program is going to be, and so that everyone is getting something like, I don't think that's really, really important. Deborah Colville 00:21:57 And I think there are, there are issues, um, in any project, developing any project, any partnership. And, but what you're trying to do is, is maximize the potential of success and sometimes you have to chunk things down so it's not too complicated and it doesn't have too heavy, um, a level of governance and bureaucracy and, and, and programming project management, but just enough. Um, so, you know, from a public sector perspective, we need to have assurance that funds and money and staff time are being spent on the things that are gonna benefit the great payers. And, you know, for, for the universities, they want to bring, um, you know, some of the work and the research they're doing, they want to see an impact of that research. And of course, for the businesses, um, they want to very quickly be able to, um, develop their offering, um, test it quickly, and also get public sector and others to purchase, um, those offerings. Deborah Colville 00:23:03 So I think understanding where all those partners are coming from and understanding that there are three very different cultures there, but that are all very much focused on achieving the same goal, um, and solving the same problem. So, um, you know, businesses need quick decisions and public sector and, you know, have processes that slow the decision making can dyna a wee bit. So, so, um, there is it So managing all of that, yes, is, is, um, you know, it can be very time consuming, but it's very worth it. Um, so there is, it's really easy, you know, for everyone. And I think smaller, more agile, low cost, low risk type projects and, and building them up, um, is really, you know, is, is certainly is the way to go for us at the start. Now we're moving to more transformational, larger projects, but you need to do that to get the working partnership going, um, and to build trust and, um, you know, you have to trust the partner and have to cover each other's backs, and you do that, make it into these rolled up, getting in together and actually delivering something together. Nikita Shetty 00:24:16 Yeah. And probably helps getting buy-in, right? These initial small projects also from the executives and all other stakeholders you mentioned. Deborah Colville 00:24:25 Yeah, absolutely. Nikita Shetty 00:24:27 Yeah. Um, I was wondering if you ever came across stakeholders who were probably, you know, difficult to work with or it was difficult to get buy-in, uh, in the process, and how have you dealt with such situations when, you know, there are key stakeholders who might not be interested at that? Right. Maybe it's not the right time or, um, yeah, do not have the resources for it. Deborah Colville 00:24:53 Yeah, I mean, we, this is Roman same, and this is something that we come across, um, all the time. So, um, and we find that at times we have a really good idea. We know we've got, you know, maybe SMEs that have a real appetite and to do something, uh, or there's a piece of academic research that would really support this. And, you know, we bring academic partners along about can't get the public sector involved. Sometimes it's a matter of timing and you do have to just say, you know something, we will have to come back to this. And we've, you know, we've different projects where the timing wasn't right. About two years down the road, this is exactly where that partner is thinking. So I think you have to recognize something to not, you know, always going to, to work and start not always going to line to make a project happen. Deborah Colville 00:25:43 And, but it's finding the sweet spots. It's finding, um, those particular projects where you do have partners who are all at the right stage at the right time and can make something happen. And, you know, you have to work with the energy and enthusiasm. Yeah. Um, and if, or if partners have the energy and enthusiasm to get something done, they prime place and they will find the piece that we're doing will reorganize. They'll do what they have to do and to make something happen. So one of the things that's worked really well for Belfast is, um, leadership and the fact that, um, our city leaders have come together to, um, take a strategic approach to developing the digital, in the digital innovation direction for the city. And this is a group of chief executives from across the city or anchor institutions, the chief executive be council of Belfast Harbor investor and I, sorry, um, a catalyst of Val Met. Deborah Colville 00:26:50 Um, and also the best chancellors of our two universities. And these city leaders come together to look at the strategic direction and within the city and are really committed to transforming the city and supporting the economy. And, um, you know, what they do is big investments that are coming into the city or, um, you know, projects and initiatives these partners will allow and back the other partners, they will open doors, they remove obstacles, and they will look at that alignment piece and that integration of programs and projects across the city. Um, I think that's a real, um, plus, um, for Belfast, um, where we have investors or where we have, um, you know, interest in common and developing projects with us and collaborating with us. You know, there's a, there's a front door there and to come and talk to the city and you get all of those partners around the table, we can make your presentation and bring forward proposals. So the leadership in, in the city, of course, that includes our political leadership, um, as well political, um, and representative us in back this move as well and see the benefit, um, to society and to citizens, but also the benefit to our economy. So we're really, um, you know, we're very fortunate that we actually have that, and we know a lot of cities do. So, um, I think that's been a big plus, um, for our, for our program going forward. Nikita Shetty 00:28:24 Definitely. I remember when we were working also with Peter Potain from the Brain PortMa, uh, district together with you on, on, um, brokering this partnership that there was a lot of discussion also on, um, you know, what would this partnership mean in practice, right? So all the executives, the leadership were also interested in figuring out what would this mean in practice in terms of when a new project comes up. Um, for you now, when this, um, uh, partnership is in place, is it that, um, just for others to know and, you know, if they want to replicate something like this, um, is it that each partner brings in specific resources into this partnership? Or is it more a strategic group now where the leaders are meeting and taking strategic decisions on specific topics? Or is there also, um, practical element in it in terms of, you know, working together and sharing resources and funds and so on? Deborah Colville 00:29:21 I mean, it's bit of all of that. So, um, this group has been able to influence, um, UK government in terms of strategic approach to, um, investment here in, in North Ireland and infrastructure and, uh, and in the economy. So as a group on a very strategic level, being a voice for not just Belfast actually, but for Northern Ireland. And, you know, they've been very effective in, in some of these, um, consultations that come out from the UK government. Um, there's also a very regional focus as well, although it's called Innovation Study Belfast, um, you know, and the, any dec any decisions or discussions are always, um, in support of the wider region and that wider Belfast region and also, um, the whole of, of Northern Ireland as well. Um, and then there's a whole layer of programs and projects, um, that are also under way that, um, these leaders are behind and have been investing in, um, and really are committed to making sure, um, are delivered not, not successful. Deborah Colville 00:30:29 So for example, the development of an innovation district, um, you know, looking at, um, that growing, um, some of our, you know, ours and our clusters and, and in that particular area. And then, um, you know, that translation research with, um, academia and businesses, um, to help, you know, with the development of tech and, and, and new product services. Um, and then we have the smart port, and that is the harbor itself, um, you know, bumping to you having an ambition to be the, the greenest cleanest sport in the world and doing some very fantastic innovative things, which is absolutely brilliant. Um, and then of course we have a smart district and Vice, its led and delivered from <inaudible> Council. Um, it is also on the, um, on the table, um, with innovation City out fast, um, so that there's a real willingness to make sure that all of these, um, projects together, um, you know, are integrated and, um, you know, they, they support each other and we can just maximize the potential of each of them. Nikita Shetty 00:31:39 Definitely. That's very interesting and very impactful actually. The, um, uh, the, the long, uh, reaching impact that this group would have. You also mentioned the Healthy Aging project, uh, in the beginning, which, um, is also going to be part of the smart district. Right? Do you want to talk a little bit about it? Deborah Colville 00:31:58 Yes. Um, and in those first sort of four years, and we have delivered around 47 projects, um, and all of them have been fantastic projects, so I don't like to speak them one, one out and it's like, um, choosing a favorite child or something, <laugh> and, but, um, you know, we haven't many testimonials from, um, organizations and businesses if new solutions from platforms learning, um, that, um, they've had from taking part in lots of, of the projects, um, that we have run. Um, but I mentioned that because, um, you know, from, from several standpoint, um, it brought together, together so many, you know, partners across the ecosystem is led by Austria University, Queens universities involved, and the local housing association. Our team, this is the innovation team that's the council, and of course many SMEs, um, involved in the delivery of that project. And we got funding from, and the connected cases, cata and the EM was to test out ways in which we could support health, elderly people to live longer in their homes and to tackle isolation and loneliness. Deborah Colville 00:33:11 And, um, you know, one part of this trial was to bring those elderly people into your tested environment that we set up and where they could test out and try out different technologies and cohorts of elder people came in, tried the solutions ed to, and the, the technical and advisors to the SMEs, the fears of technology and, and, you know, what they thought would work and what they thought wouldn't work. And, you know, they really did enjoy it. So, um, it was a really good collaborative, um, innovative project, um, which, you know, included local SMEs, not just our, you know, business industry and government, but this was a real, um, example of, you know, given that our citizens are the, you know, the heart of everything we do. And it was just a really good example of how we brought those citizens in to be involved in the i working of, of that, um, trial. And now that's moving on to, to stage two and for thought program. So it was, it was a, you know, it was very interesting, but it was a very, um, very rewarding, Nikita Shetty 00:34:26 Um, project, definitely. And, um, a lot of healthy ageing projects actually, uh, uh, well, health-related projects, smart city projects have concerns sometimes around data and collection of private data. Was this a topic that you had to address in the project, or was this not a big concern for the participants? Deborah Colville 00:34:46 Yes. You know, data and the, you know, data privacy and security, all of those things are, are so important for citizens. And one of the programs that we have in development is our citizens opportunity for digital innovation program. We call it code. Um, and that seeks to build the, the capacity and the capability of, of our communities and citizens to be able to engage in new innovative service provision and to be able to use, um, modern platforms and online, uh, platforms to be of employment opportunities, help opportunities, um, and just understand how to, um, avail of opportunity in, in this technical, technological world that, that we know today. Um, and so empowering citizens to make choices about where their data goes, if they want to share their data or not, um, it's very important. Nikita Shetty 00:35:42 Definitely. I, I could actually continue asking you many more questions about specific projects and everything that you've done, but I'm very conscious of time now. So, um, I'm going to hand over to my colleague Talin again for the next segment. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:59 <laugh>, yes. Thank you so much for taking over, Nikita. It was, uh, the most chill interview session I've, I've ever had, so I got to sit back and just listen to you. I'll talk about interesting things. So, um, Deborah now is also a, a fun part of the podcast, not, not saying that your part wasn't fun, Nikita, but, um, Nikita Shetty 00:36:17 I'm taking offence Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:18 <laugh>. Um, but you know, we're, we're going, um, into now a, a bit of a segment that we like to do. And this segment is, um, I, I say this in every episode that I do this segment in, but it's one of my favourite segments. Um, and it's called Roll with the Punches. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:46 And don't worry, um, it's just, you know, fun and you can always, so we'll go through it quite quickly, but when we get to the end, you can always go back and explain or you can say, I couldn't really choose, but, um, you have to choose in the first section though, so <laugh>, Nikita Shetty 00:37:00 And there's no right answer, so don't worry. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:02 Yeah. <laugh>, there are no right answers. That's what, that's the that's what the point of it is, um, is to make you think though. Okay. Um, so are you ready Deborah Colville 00:37:11 As I'll ever be Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:12 <laugh> True. All right. Innovation or co-creation? Deborah Colville 00:37:18 Co-creation, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:20 Past or, future? Deborah Colville 00:37:22 Future Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:24 Smart District or innovation district? Deborah Colville 00:37:28 Smart district. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:29 Smart district, okay. Net zero or economic growth is the main challenge for Belfast? Deborah Colville 00:37:37 Economic growth. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:38 AI or VR? Deborah Colville 00:37:41 AI. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:43 <laugh> AI or AR? <laugh> Deborah Colville 00:37:47 AI. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:48 <laugh>. Good. You made it through <laugh>. Yay. Um, do you want to explain any of your answers? Deborah Colville 00:37:57 Um, maybe they've like choosing this smart district mm-hmm. <affirmative> and because to me, the innovation district and the smart district, um, why they have slightly different, um, objectives, one, very much economic growth and then the other one societal impact. Um, they're two sides of the one coin, and I think both are really important and we have both in development in, um, our city and, um, both very complimentary, um, and self supporting. So, um, I had to choose one, and of course I had choose the one that I'm leading, but, um, both I would say, um, are definitely going to be fantastic initiatives, um, for the city. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:38:41 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. Um, now, uh, kind of leading off of that, but uh, it's the question that we ask every single guest that comes on, and it is to you, what is a smart city? Deborah Colville 00:38:55 Ooh, okay. Um, I suppose a smart city is a city that's clear about what it needs to achieve for its citizens and actively sets in case mechanisms to, um, harness innovation technologies and ideas from a fantastic ss bringing in world leading research, uh, from our fantastic universities, um, and aligning them, uh, to achieve those particular ambitions. And I think also as a smart city, um, you know, we need to recognize the richness of opportunity from sharing data and from opening our doors, um, to businesses and collaborators globally. Again, all with the e focus, delivering new venture services, supporting our economy, um, and ultimately just helping to deliver our richer quality of life for our citizens. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:55 Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. Um, yeah. Do you agree Nikita <laugh>? Nikita Shetty 00:40:01 I definitely do Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:02 <laugh>. You don't wanna contradict anything? Nikita Shetty 00:40:08 No, I think, um, we've learned a lot from each other when we were working together and actually coming up with what smart Belfast and the smart District means, I think, um, that's everything I would like, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:20 You grew together with the definition. That's good. Definitely. We actually asked ChatGPT also that question. Maybe in the next episode, I, I'll share, share the definition that, um, AI gave us as well. I was quite good too, but Deborah, you're, you're right up there with AI, so, um, and, uh, hopefully, uh, that wasn't too painful for you, Deborah. I had, I really enjoyed it and um, really enjoyed having you here, Nikita, so Nikita Shetty 00:40:46 Thank you. Thank you for having me here. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:48 Yeah, absolutely. Anytime. You're welcome. And, uh, yeah, of course the star of the show. Thank you so much, uh, for joining us, Deborah. Your input and perspectives are really, really valuable and I'm sure the listeners are really going to enjoy, um, hearing all about it. So yeah, thank you so much. Deborah Colville 00:41:04 Thanks for having me. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:06 And to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account on bable-smartcities.eu to find out more about smart city projects, solutions, and implementations. You can find great use cases from Belfast also. So, um, thank you so much. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:22 Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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