Tech could create business boom and improve safety

A competition involving bodies including Highways England will seek ideas for making the UK road network ready for connected and driverless vehicles, including using the latest technology. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire PPP-181202-161854001
A competition involving bodies including Highways England will seek ideas for making the UK road network ready for connected and driverless vehicles, including using the latest technology. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire PPP-181202-161854001
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TURNING Portsmouth into a ‘smart city’ could open the doors to lucrative overseas investment, the city’s council leader has claimed.

Councillor Donna Jones says Portsmouth would be seen as a shining example of how future cities could look – if it secures much-needed cash to boost its internet connectivity.

And the Tory chief said this could pave the way for businesses both nationally and internationally to base themselves in Portsmouth and take advantage of the new tech.

She said: ‘As this is a government-led pilot I would expect us to be invited to go on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office overseas trips when they’re trying to woo businesses to the UK as part of their industrial strategy and in a post-Brexit world.

‘I’ve been trying to piggyback on those visits for the last three-and-a-half years since being leader of the council and it has been very, very difficult.

‘But as an area we now have a significant opportunity and by us being part of a government-led pilot I think we will then get a chance to be involved in bringing major industry to the UK and that Portsmouth and the Solent could benefit from that.’

The smart city vision would see hi-tech vehicles being able to communicate with smartphones of pedestrians, as well as traffic lights and other cars to anticipate traffic and even – once automated cars become a reality – avoid crashes.

Emergency services will also benefit, with smart systems turning traffic lights green as crews rush to incidents.

Paul Darlow, traffic network manager at the council, said: ‘On a foggy day, there could be a broken down vehicle in the left lane with no lights on. Now in the future, every single car approaching that would get a warning on the dashboard to say there’s a vehicle there.’

He added: ‘The cities that don’t invest in this now will get left behind. We don’t want to be in that category.’

Greg Povey, the council’s assistant director of IT and procurement said: ‘For the council it means we wouldn’t necessarily empty the bins unless a signal came through saying that bin is full. That sounds quite futuristic but that already exists in some cities.’