How the standards for smart cities are being set in the UK

The UK has become the first country to develop standards that will help to shape the future of the smart cities across the country.

As technology allows cities to develop, become more automated and run themselves, officials in the UK have decided to create plans that will outline the best practices for the creation of smarter cities.

Two sets of standards have been created to aid the modernising of cities – with the Universities and Science Minister David Willets saying they will help to “address barriers” that are faced.

The aim to create smart cities has seen cities, businesses and universities across the country collaborating as the UK competes in the worldwide race to develop smarter cities.

Smart cities have the potential for businesses to plan efficient routes to transport goods, allow effective public health services and provide real-time data to allow people to plan their days.

These cities can be using wireless networks, utilising big data, social media plus sensors and tracking products. They aim to use technology to simplify the lives of residents. Potential innovations include being able to provide smart public transport information which displays the most relevant travel to the commuter and personalised recommendations for places to eat and shop.

The guide to ‘establishing strategies for smart cities and communities’ was made to help decision makers deliver strategies that can transform the ability of cities to meet the challenges they will face in the future.

While a separate guide to vocabulary that should be used when referring to smart cities has also been made to ensure there is no confusing between those who are responsible for the creation of the cities.

The development of the standards was led by the British Standards Institution, which was founded in 1901, and also involved government departments, Cambridge University, technology giants IBM and many other leading organisations.

Scott Steedman, the director of standards at BSI, said that it is crucially important the smart cities have standards that they need to abide by.

“The UK leads the world in shaping business standards,” he said. “If we are to make the most of the global opportunities from smart cities, we need to work fast to structure the knowledge that can help city leaders, communities, innovators and technology providers recognize what good looks like and how these concepts can bring benefits for all.

“I’m delighted that the UK is the first country to publish a set of standards that will help us navigate the governance and leadership challenges that smart technologies bring for cities everywhere.”

Image courtesy of Tyler Arnold/Flickr under Creative Commons.

Oceanic research steps into the future as sci-fi vessel SeaOrbiter gets funding

The world’s most futuristic-looking research vessel could soon be setting sail after it met its crowdfunding goal of €325,000.

Designed by marine architect Jacques Rougerie, SeaOrbiter will drift with oceanic currents to explore areas of the ocean that have never been studied before.

SeaOrbiter is designed to address the shortage of ocean research that has been undertaken. 90% of the ocean is still unexplored, and it is estimated that two thirds of marine species are yet to be discovered.

Looking like a moveable version of the Operation Hennessey Underwater SeaLab from the film the Life Aquatic, the vessel features a vertical wind turbine and solar panels to generate power; an 18.5m high lookout post; a diving room and wet lab; a modular laboratory, medical and fitness areas; underwater bunks and pressurised living quarters and a variety of underwater dive pits.

SeaOrbiter is also kitted out with a range of support vessels and subsea exploration devices, including a diving drone capable of exploring the oceanic abyss at depths up to 6,000m – far deeper than it is possible for humans to travel.


First and foremost, SeaOrbiter is a research vessel with the capability to gather and analyse data. However, it will also serve as a multimedia communications platform, churning out educational programming that has been entirely shot and edited onboard. And that’s not all: the pressurised living areas also enable SeaOrbiter to function as a space simulator.

The vessel is uniquely able to house a crew of 18 – 22 people to live onboard for long periods of time in remote areas of the ocean. Typically expeditions would last for three to six months, although the crew could remain onboard for much longer if required.

The crew would be made up of six ship operators, four scientific researchers, two multimedia operators and six ‘aquanauts’ developing research programmes.  But they won’t just be adrift and unsupported – a shore-based team will remain in constant touch to collect data and ensure everything goes smoothly.


In a sense, SeaObiter has been more than forty years in the making. The vessel’s designer and champion Jacques Rougerie has a long-standing background in marine design, and has been developing undersea structures for decades.

His 1973 project with NASA to develop an underwater research village has been instrumental in our view of undersea living, and he has produced several landmark vessels for oceanographic exploration. Rougerie seems to have been working towards SeaOrbiter for most of his career, but only now has the technology come of age.

The project was funded through French crowdfunding website Kiss Kiss Bank Bank, with 664 people handing over between €10 and €40,000+ to raise a total of €344,650. In a video uploaded to the SeaOrbiter website, Rougerie thanked his supporters. He said: “We registered more than 600 contributors, including 20 big donors and one family who highly contributed to it”.

Now SeaOrbiter has received funding the challenge of building it can start. Rougerie expects construction to take two years, so by 2016 we could be following the launch of this remarkable vessel.

Images courtesy of SeaOrbiter.