Welcome to our new UK members

MetroLab officially crosses the Atlantic to welcome our first three UK members. We’re delighted to be joined by:

  • University of Bristol and the City of Bristol (England, United Kingdom)
  • University of Glasgow and the City of Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom)
  • University of Liverpool and Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority (England, United Kingdom)

With these new additions, MetroLab continues our commitment to engage with partnerships that are leading the way in civic innovation. Below is a bit about the new members and the activities that they are up to.

University of Bristol and the City of Bristol (England, United Kingdom)

Bristol Energy Leap Partnership is transforming a city’s energy system for a low carbon future.

Bristol has collaboratively trialled many smart technology projects in the city, including a thermal camera system to alert emergency services when people fall into the city’s harbor, the Digital Profile career and recruitment platform that connects people, businesses and education and the Digital Inspector project to investigate how technology can help local authorities inspect the condition of roads.  Now in its final phase, REPLICATE is an example of international collaboration on a five-year European pilot program to explore the benefits new technology can bring to city communities by trialling integrated energy, transport and information communication technology (ICT) solutions.

Dr Erik Lithander, University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor & Vice-President for Global Engagement, notes: “The University of Bristol and Bristol City Council have a proven track record in pioneering digital innovation in the city, most recently through our 5GUK Test Network and smart tourism initiatives. It is our belief that partnerships such as Metrolab are critical in driving civic innovation and creating the cities of tomorrow, the cities we all want to live in.”

This month, September 2019, Bristol City Council launched its first Smart City Strategy.  This will develop a responsible innovation approach to the city’s challenges and bring together existing smart city functions such as the Bristol Operations Centre, Bristol is Open, City Innovation Team and Connected Cities Programme. 

Cllr Craig Cheney, deputy mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “Connecting Bristol can help us achieve our vision, by building up the city’s digital foundations, by working alongside our One City Plan, and working in collaboration with partners to drive innovation that puts people first. We already understand that digital technology can help to pre-empt and tackle the complex local and global challenges the city faces.  Our next goal is to put in place a robust, ethical, inclusive, transparent and responsible approach to innovation that puts people at its heart.’’

Similarly, the University of Bristol’s new Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI) aims to transform the way we create new technology, to benefit our society.  Engineers will work alongside social scientists to help ‘tech giants’, corporations, local government and community partners answer the big questions facing society, and research exactly how technology will be used and experienced in the future. This knowledge will be shared to help create a better digital world.  The BDFI will be based at the University’s new £300M Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus in the heart of the City of Bristol’s buzzing new Enterprise Zone. 

Ges Rosenberg, Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, has led Bristol’s MetroLab application and is enthusiastic about becoming a first international member: “The MetroLab Network provides an opportunity to collaborate and convene with universities and local governments in the USA and internationally.  We look forward to learning from other cities on the same digitalization journey, as well as share the know-how and Smart City solutions we’ve developed in Bristol.” 


University of Glasgow and the City of Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom)

The Main Building of the University, pictured with the South-side of Glasgow behind it.

The City and University of Glasgow and have a long standing partnership and history of collaboration.  Glasgow University have recently realigned their priorities with that of the City’s by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in the community at the top of its. The City and University are partnering on three projects focused on data analytics, innovation and digital connectivity.

The city government is key to enabling efficient roll out of 5G, particularly given the requirement for significantly more equipment deployment at street level. The University’s campus expansion creates a semi-controlled environment of over 70 city blocks in scale with a daily footfall of around 35,000 to test and trial deployment and use cases within a unique and safe infrastructure environment before planning a city-scale roll-out.

The University of Glasgow with support from the City, aims to establish the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District (GRID). An integral component for engendering innovation districts is the integration of Acceleration Programmes to support the rapidly growing SMEs that emerge.  A collaborative project will explore the use of acceleration when building innovation districts through partnership with industry, business and the Universities. 

The City government recognizes that data captured through CCTV could be put to use to make smarter decisions around people and place. The project team will identify opportunities for the data captured through the image processing.  The project will model, analyze and visualize data captured and the resulting analysis and insight. Initial areas of focus are pedestrian footfall and traffic analysis.


University of Liverpool and Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority (England, United Kingdom)

City of Liverpool waterfront

Partnership working between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority has flourished over the past 18 months, with strong relationships developed across the institutions and collaborative research projects underway. 

An example is the evaluation of the Households into Work program which is embracing relational welfare principles and practice with households where two or more adults are out of work because of their complex circumstances, find themselves unable to engage in a sustained search for employment.

The Civic Data Trust project will develop an integrated data and digital facility that will enable Liverpool City Region to become a global player in the data-driven health tech by providing a secure, monitored digital environment where partners can work collaboratively to tackle major health problems, and identify, test and implement solutions.

Linking to the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre hosted at the University of Liverpool, the Data Demonstrators project supported by 4 MSc students, will explore a range of data challenges in the Liverpool City Region. Outputs will focus on a path towards a future data plan, improved digital infrastructure and smart governance. 

The Combined Authority is writing a new form of spatial plan which will look at issues of development and infrastructure across the Liverpool City Region and is collaborating with the University of Liverpool on data gathering and analysis.