Edinburgh’s ageing CCTV system is set to receive a £650,000 makeover to accompany a host of new digital ideas across the city.
The council is exploring the use of current technologies and data systems to turn Edinburgh into a “smart city” in the future. The city’s updated CCTV network will likely be a key component of that upgrade.
The new set-up will introduce talking cameras that allow operators to speak to pedestrians, smart lampposts containing cameras to live stream the scene of an accident to a doctor to offer medical advice and on-street sensors to better monitor carbon emissions.
More sophisticated cameras would also be able to identify vehicle number plates to impose bus lane fines.
The council’s current CCTV network covers much of Edinburgh and is designed to provide security and maintain public safety. However, the system has reached the end of its life expectancy, with contracts due to run out in July, so the smart city concept is seen as a suitable replacement.
The council has been evolving smart city ideas through its Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, run by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, and funded through Edinburgh’s City Deal.
Depute council leader Cammy Day commented: “We are developing a smart city strategy and trying to get the best brains of the city together to have that discussion about what should the smart city look like.
“CCTV is part of that, but it is a substantial investment and is moving from analogue to digital the best thing when we can have remote cameras and a whole range of things?”
Council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “It’s really important we don’t consider CCTV in isolation because we are considering as part of the smart cities the whole issue about whether we have a city operations centre. We are talking to both CGI and the university DDI programme about it.
“It is obvious to us the need to enhance technology and the way we deal with technology is going to be a big part of that plan.”
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Edinburgh council says it is “setting out bold, ambitious ideas” to help it achieve its 2050 vision for the city through its ‘Connecting our City, Transforming our Places‘ concept.
“The ideas focus on better places designed with people at their heart, with space for human connections; a city that is enabled by technology driving a stronger economy,” a statement from the council read.
“The ideas also focus on transport as an enabler of transformational change – by re-prioritising how we use our public spaces, roads and streets, using smart technology and integrated services, we can help create a more active, resilient and inclusive city.”
The council is also offering the chance to “share your vision” and provide them with ideas for the future of Edinburgh in 2050.
Scottish Cities Alliance is working with the Scottish Government to provide £60 million, including £25 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support, in investment to make Scotland’s cities smarter, using new tech to accelerate and transform the delivery of city services across the country.
The plan is to use the investment across seven cities in Scotland, aiming to become more attractive, liveable, and resilient through data and digital technology.