Sunderland placed in the UK’s top three smart cities  

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Northern Spire, Sunderland

Digital Leaders UK has just announced that Sunderland is in the final three in the race to be named ‘Smart City of the Year 2020’.

Sunderland was shortlisted to the top 10 in June this year and the public vote has decided the top three finalists from each category of the Digital Leaders 100 List for 2020, which will now go forward to the next round of judging. The ultimate winner, and those placed second and third, will be announced at the Digital Leaders 100 awards ceremony in October.

Sunderland is joined by Cardiff and Stockport in the final furlong to be named the UK’s smartest city. Proudly representing the region, this exceptional result is testament to Sunderland’s digital leaders as well as the resolute commitment of Patrick Melia, the Sunderland City Council Smart City Programme team and numerous partners and collaborators for making their mark in such a short period of time.

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.

Gaining recognition on a national scale as one of the UK’s fastest growing smart cities with this eagerly awaited appearance in the DL100’s top three, illustrates the advanced smart agenda and digital achievements from across Sunderland over the past year.
Patrick Melia, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, said: “Our ambitious digital agenda is not only making a huge difference in our city, but to see that our collaborative efforts are being recognised at a national level shows the wider impact our successes are achieving.”
Patrick added: “From placing in the top ten to the top three, illustrates the fast pace at which we are driving projects across Sunderland to embed an augmented digital infrastructure, which will continue to be key to our recovery from the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Fast becoming one of the leading Smart Cities across the UK, the past year has seen upgrades to this connected city through the continuing rollout of free ultrafast public WiFi. Beginning in December 2019 with ultrafast connectivity brought to public spaces in High Street West and Keel Square, the rollout followed swiftly in early 2020 with ultrafast WiFi connectivity between Roker Pier and Seaburn; connecting people and places by enabling faster, more reliable, free WiFi.

Sunderland’s healthtech capabilities have been proven across 2020 with the success of the National Assistive Technology testbed, which saw a localised pilot pioneer the use of devices such as smart phones and motion sensors in vulnerable people’s homes. This meant that carers and families could feel assured of the safety of individuals who were left alone, as well as presenting a great step forward towards the goal of extending independence and assisting people to remain safely in their homes for longer. The success of this test bed has led to Assistive Technology solutions now being firmly embedded at the heart of social care delivery.

In addition, the confirmation of £multi-million investment through recently announced 5G Create funding and Getting Building Fund (GBF) is welcome news to the region. These projects will provide a boost for UK tech innovators utilising 5G technology to explore new opportunities in North East England and facilitate next generation digital connectivity and Riverside Sunderland strategic infrastructure works to accelerate the regeneration of Sunderland Riverside and city centre.

Creating efficiencies through the smart use of data and technology brings many benefits to forward thinking cities like Sunderland, including improved sustainability, economic development and enhanced quality of life for people living and working in the city.

Helping individuals, communities and businesses to leverage digital opportunities and prepare them to compete and more effectively handle what the future holds are key drivers to our continued investment in improved connectivity, our digital economy, healthcare and essential digital skills.

Shaping Sunderland as a digitally focused and collaborative place to thrive – a place where everyone benefits from the opportunities of the digital era and no-one or nowhere is left behind.