Aberdeen - A Sustainable, Smart City

We're proud of our beautiful city and, as a Council, we want to ensure its sustainability, liveability and economic importance going forward, ensuring we meet the needs of present and future generations. As part of that, the role of being a ‘smart city’ is extremely important to achieving that vision. 

But what is a smart city? There is a lot of definitions as to what a smart city is, but to us it is a 
‘sustainable city at the forefront of digital connectivity, technologies and infrastructure, where everyone can prosper, to ensure digital inclusion for all and to bridge the digital skills gap and to ensure the city is an attractive place to invest, live and visit’

Why do we need a smart city?

Local authorities are facing an increased demand on resources, rising populations alongside declining budgets and less funding from central government. This means we need to ensure better value for money against the public pound and a shift in the way services are delivered. By working collaboratively between services at the council, as well as our stakeholders and partners, we need to ensure a smart city perspective is taken into account in decision making.  This can help us address the challenges we are facing, help us continue deliver and improve our public services as well as achieve our vision to be a sustainable and attractive city. 

Our Strategy & Projects

As such the Council has developed a Smart City Strategy & Action Plan. This Strategy has 6 key themes

  • Smart Public Sector
  • Smart Technology
  • Smart Mobility 
  • Smart Digital Skills
  • Smart Tourism
  • Smart Living

As a Council, working with our key partners, we are already undertaking a number of projects under these themes. If you would like to find out more about any of our projects please click the link below

Smart City Projects 

Smart Public Sector

City Region Deal - Digital 

Open Data Portal - This project was enabled through the ERDF programme "Scotland's 8th City - the Smart City", a collaboration across the seven Scottish Cities. The aim is to make cities more attractive, liveable and resilient through data and digital technology - improving the cities for their citizens and making them more attractive to potential investors.  As part of this it is recognised that sharing public sector open data demonstrates openness while the data can be the catalyst for innovation and commercial opportunities.  

As part of the project research was done into available publishing platform options, a suitable solution was identified, and the necessary technology was put in place. The platform was developed to be simple to use, whilst having a sustainable means of publishing and maintaining the data in the background.  The Open Data Aberdeen platform is now being used to publish open data in multiple different formats, depending on the content.  This is the raw data that drives Aberdeen City Council, and its services.  Through the platform users are encouraged to comment on the data that is available, and request new data that they would like to see published.

ACE Retrofitting - Aberdeen City Council is currently participating in The Interreg NWE ACE-Retrofitting (Accelerating Condominium Energy Retrofitting) project.  This a European funded project to tackle energy efficiency in flats and tenement buildings. Targeting flats and tenement buildings ensures that the greatest number of private owners can benefit from significant financial savings and 50%-70% carbon savings. Aberdeen has more than 12,000 flats in granite tenements built in Victorian or Edwardian times and, due to their age and building construction, some of these properties are hard to heat.  

Most tenements and blocks of flats contain properties with numerous owners which poses many challenges for retrofitting energy efficiency measures including getting initial consent from all the owners, coordinating the program of works, and securing payment once the works are complete. The ACE retrofitting project aims to help residents and owners of flats and tenements to overcome the many legal, social, and financial barriers.

As part of the ACE retrofitting project, Aberdeen City Council has created the Saving Energy Aberdeen website.  The website provides information, guidance and tools which will enable those living in houses and flats to improve the energy efficiency of your home. The website covers topics from why to fit energy efficiency measures, which measures would be right for your property through to financing options and how to find a contractor.

Smart Mobility

Civitas PORTIS - which stands for Port Cities-Innovation for Sustainability-is a sustainable urban mobility project in port cities and is 100% funded through the Horizon 2020 programme. Aberdeen City Council, along with our local partners, is part of an European consortium working together to implement and test different mobility solutions. As part of the project Aberdeen has implemented a number of measures which are aimed to improve and promote sustainable and active travel in our city region, more information on the project can be found here. One of our smart measures implemented include the development of a smart journey planning tool. This was developed with co-design volunteers, ensuring the app deployed would be useable and see a positive, significant impact. The purpose of the journey planning app is to help people travel about Aberdeen giving them real-time information straight to their smart phone and will assist motorists plan their trips and journey times. It will also seek to encourage people to walk, cycle or use buses more by providing detailed journey information for these modes. 

Low Emission Zone - a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is an area where only certain vehicles are allowed to enter, based on their emissions standards.

In line with the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, Aberdeen City Council are looking at options for a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Aberdeen, to operate from late 2020. The LEZ is likely to be in the city centre as this is currently where air quality is poorest.

Vehicles that do not meet the required emissions standards will not be able to enter the area. Currently the proposed minimum criteria is:

  • Euro 6 for diesel cars (cars registered from September 2015)
  • Euro 4 for petrol cars (cars registered from January 2006)
  • Euro 6 for heavy diesel vehicles (including older retrofitted engines which would be improved to operate as Euro 6).

Electric and hydrogen vehicles will also be allowed to access the zone.

Phase 1 of Aberdeen’s LEZ (from December 2020) will apply to buses only. The Council is working in partnership with bus operators to reduce emissions from local bus services, including the addition of new hydrogen buses to the fleet.

Options for Phase 2 (which will apply to multiple vehicle types) are still being developed and are subject to detailed traffic and air quality modelling. The Council will be consulting with members of the public and stakeholders on a series of options from April 2020 with a view to identifying a preferred option later in the year. Once a preferred option has been identified and agreed by the Council and Scottish Ministers, a timetable for delivery will be published. 

The Council is working with partners in Transport Scotland and in the other Scottish LEZ cities (Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow) to develop a consistent approach to LEZ introduction, exemptions, grace periods, monitoring and enforcement.

Smart Technology

Intelligent Street Lighting - as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme ‘Scotland’s 8th City- the Smart City’ Aberdeen undertook an ‘Intelligent Street Lighting’ project. As part of this project the old, inefficient and expensive street lighting has been replaced with LED lighting which is more cost-effective and energy efficient. As well as this a LoRaWan network was deployed and a node installed on each of the street light columns, allowing the street lights to be controlled through the mesh network. The node on each of the street light columns sends back data to a central management system (CMS) and officers can remotely control street lighting, dimming settings as well as monitor any faults. This new city-wide IoT network will allow the city to deploy smart city solutions in the future.

HeatNet - Aberdeen City Council is a project partner in the delivery of the Interreg HeatNet NWE, a European funded project, which aims to increase the provision of district heating networks and affordable warmth within North West European countries. As part of the HeatNet North West Europe Interreg project, Aberdeen City Council is completing a pilot project in Torry. An existing district heating network within this area currently serves three multi-storey blocks. The pilot will expand this existing network, linking in three municipal buildings. In 2002 Aberdeen City Council formed a separate not for profit company to provide combined heat and power (CHP) schemes in Aberdeen. Carbon emissions from these buildings have reduced by 45% and typical fuel costs to tenants have been reduced by up to 50% over the previous electric heating systems. Potential future plans include expansion of the heat network, initially within the Torry area and eventually to cross the River Dee to link-up with the other district heating networks in Aberdeen.

ScORe  - which stands for Smart Cities + Open data Reuse - is a public sector solutions development project in North Sea Region which is 50% funded through the Interreg North Sea Region programme. The project is ambitious, developing a wide range of open software and data solutions including mobility, transportation, environmental, dashboard portal and open data taxonomy for a city. The aim of the SCORE project for Aberdeen was to create open access to key watercourse and rainfall data across a number of sites in the city. Data is then presented to the public in the form of an App or web-based display. This flooding data will also be available as a dataset on the Aberdeen Open Data Portal for re-use by citizens, academics and SMEs. The data also provides data to Aberdeen City Council staff to undertake informed and proactive decisions about flood management. An additional Citizen science app is being developed for trial by University of Bradford with citizens to report flooding issues. This will allow citizens in localities to inform their community of the flooding issue.

Two apps are being promoted. Flood Warning app that will publish open data and consultation on a citizen science flood reporting app trial. A flood warning network is being established. Further consultation is planned during trial of citizen science app. Advertisement of flood warning app will be promoted when they system is fully operational and reviewed.

Smart Digital Skills

Aberdeen City Council is currently working on developing a digital skills pipeline through primary and secondary education as well as ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ to ensure future labour market needs will be met locally.

Smart Tourism

It is also possible to explore options using the data generated from tourist activity and tourist movements throughout the region. We can then use this data to encourage repeat visits to the region and best user experience, particularly with our museums, galleries and visitor attractions across the city region. 

Our People - Community Working

Of course Aberdonians, students, our communities and individuals make our city and play an important role-we would be interested to look at how we can work more collaboratively with groups, specifically if you have ideas on smart city projects and how it can benefit the local community. 

We can also work with you to identify potential external funding opportunities. 

Get In Touch with the Smart City Team

If you would like to get in contact with us our email address is SmartCity@aberdeencity.gov.uk

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