Smart sensor tech to be installed in Belfast parks

  • Belfast City Council has partnered with five local tech firms to pilot a new scheme that is seeing smart sensors deployed throughout several Belfast park areas to analyse how they are used.

    With its new 'Amazing Spaces, Smart Places' scheme, Belfast City Council aims to improve how parks across Belfast are managed in a cost-effective and scalable manner. The council launched a competition last October calling for innovative projects that would use emerging technologies such as IoT and artificial intelligence to improve the city's parks, with a particular focus on issues such as safety and improving public space use.

    Five companies were chosen to participate in the scheme, with each being awarded £20,000 to explore their ideas. Each one is now being trialled for two weeks at a park or green area in the city to evaluate whether the technology can be used to improve services. If this pilot scheme is successful, it will provide hard data that will help to improve the ongoing Smart Belfast programme.

    The five projects that were approved are:

    • iSensing - Belfast City Cemetery: "Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, this project uses anonymous WiFi connection data to record footfall and better understand the flow of people through the area."

    • Civica - Botanic Gardens: "Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, this project uses anonymous WiFi connection data to record footfall and better understand the flow of people through the park."

    • Pitchbooking - Girdwood Hub: "Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors this project uses anonymous WiFi connection data to better understand the use of sports pitches in the area."

    • Bann Technology - Connswater Greenway and Victoria Park: "Using a community currency app, users can earn CivicDollars by using parks and open spaces, and then exchange these CivicDollars for rewards such as a free swim or gym pass, or a voucher for public transport. The app aims to encourage people to be more active and improve community wellbeing. You can download the CivicDollars app from the App Store or Google Play Store."

    • SparroWatch - Belfast City Cemetery: "This project uses an intelligent system with artificial intelligence and computer vision to detect activity in a particular location and provide Council with real-time notifications."

    Councillor John Kyle, deputy chair of Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee, commented on the new scheme:"This pilot project gives us a unique opportunity to capture important data which will help Council improve how it manages our city parks and open spaces, and further enhance the experience for all users. Looking at how we make our parks and open spaces welcoming and safe for everyone and reduce incidences of vandalism and anti-social behaviour, are crucial; and this project will look at how smart technology can play a part in that."

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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