8.8 Digital infrastructure and open innovation

Smart development can be defined as using data gathering technologies in buildings and spaces to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. This has the potential to reduce energy and resource use and improve public services to help deliver the Area Action Plan's strategic objectives. North East Cambridge provides an opportunity to embed smart thinking into the area from the earliest stages and should be carried out in an open, equitable and adaptable manner. The policy sets out the expectations for smart technology and open data provision and management.

  • There were a range of comments regarding the use of smart technologies on site. It was highlighted that development construction should ensure high quality buildings, that smart initiatives could be used to reduce any impact on the highway network, and how the Area Action Plan can help futureproof buildings and infrastructure.
  • You mentioned that the link between the existing and future innovation sector in this area should integrate high quality technologies within new homes and supporting ancillary uses as well as collaborate with local businesses and educational institutions. These should help the form and fabric of construction, building services, and also establish sustainable energy generation and supply.
  • You commented on the interplay between the highway network and technology, highlighting the potential importance of smart technology to help achieve the trip budget.
  • An innovative centralised refuse collection was mentioned to help to reduce demand of service trips.
  • You suggested that deliveries should be consolidated given the growth of online shopping. Comments mentioned that this should be based on understanding the needs of residents and businesses and could be facilitated by a rail freight terminal accessed on Cowley Road that could become a trans-shipment hub appropriate given proximity to A14. You also suggested that cycling logistic firms could make last-mile deliveries within the site and wider area using cargo bikes and assigned delivery parking outside of peak hours.
  • You mentioned that real time information and integrated ticketing would be important to improve the lives of transport users. Comments mentioned that users should have excellent access to and between different transport modes and that these are technologically integrated.
  • You mentioned future proofing for new technology – for example, the Milton Road vehicular access to Cambridge Science Park was mentioned as having the potential for hosting more progressive transport technology.
  • You commented that routes should be protected for emerging light rail - or other technology - networks. The Guided Busway corridor was seen as having the potential for early delivery of a rapid transport, autonomous vehicle shuttle between Cambridge North Station, Cambridge Science Park and Cambridge Regional College.
  • There was some concern about adaptability of infrastructure over time. Comments mentioned designing in the possibility for repurposing of buildings and other infrastructure such as car barns and other buildings as circumstances change over time.
  • You mentioned that the Area Action Plan should allow for innovative solutions as technological advances come forward, rather than be absolute and restrictive.
  • The policy reflects the key comments and options that have been proposed. The policy seeks to establish high quality smart infrastructure that can support the delivery of development across North East Cambridge.
  • Buildings are expected to be high quality and adaptable to enable future proofing. In establishing potential for the capturing of open data the Councils will support flexible innovation that can adapt over time; this could apply to services such as transport as well as monitoring environmental performance.
  • The Area Action Plan will aim to ensure that relevant data can be captured to help improve services such as deliveries and integrated ticketing to improve public transport usage.

Policy 30: Digital infrastructure and open innovation

The Councils will support development proposals that include a Digital Infrastructure and Open Innovation Strategy outlining how schemes will meet current and future anticipated requirements. These should set out how the development can be innovative and embrace the opportunity to develop sensor networks embedded into the development which supports the meeting of high environmental standards set out within the Area Action Plan. The Digital Infrastructure and Open Innovation Strategy must address the points below where appropriate.

Smart buildings

To be considered a smart building, developments should:

  1. consider the impact of the design on wireless connectivity within the building, in-building solutions should be provided if the building design is expected to impact on the quality of wireless signals;
  2. ensure access to high quality communications via the latest generation of high-speed gigabit-capable broadband;
  3. establish "open access" broadband infrastructure provided by at least two suppliers or a neutral host;
  4. assess the likely impact of developments on the existing mobile networks in the area and take appropriate action to mitigate any adverse impacts and design in mobile phone infrastructure from an early stage;
  5. incorporate a single waste collection point to facilitate efficient waste management from multi tenanted buildings;
  6. consider rooftop delivery space to provide passive provision for airborne drones; and
  7. provide natural cooling airflows and maximise their off-grid energy potential.

Smart public realm

Developments that provide new public realm should ensure that all street furniture has been considered for smart multifunctionality. Street furniture should be self-powered through solar panels and, where appropriate, it should aim to include wayfinding information, publicly accessible Wi-Fi, and electric charging points for phones and/or electric vehicles. All data collected by street furniture should be open source. This will be facilitated by:

  1. ensuring that fibre connectivity is designed in a way that it will be easily accessible for connection to street furniture such as street lighting columns to facilitate future improvements such as 5G;
  2. designing street furniture in such a way that the installation of telecoms equipment and other sensors can be included.

Open data

All developments with data generating interventions should provide machine readable data to the Councils so that the Councils can republish the data on their open data platforms that can be used by a single API for all open data collated.

Non-residential developments at North East Cambridge should provide publicly accessible Wi-Fi.

Future mobility zone

The Councils will support experiments at North East Cambridge on future mobility to help foster the area's innovation and support the delivery of new transport services. This is to enable first and last mile journeys to be made by innovative forms of transport.

3D model

All major development should submit a 3D model in a readable format to the local planning authority as part of a planning application to allow for landscape, townscape and microclimate impacts to be considered virtually.

Relevant objectives: 1, 2, 4, 5

Using the innovation potential of new technologies, North East Cambridge could improve public services to enhance the lives of people and working within the area. The Area Action Plan needs to identify an approach that can utilise data technology and information to address the evolving needs of North East Cambridge's residents, workers, and visitors.

Open innovation initiatives at North East Cambridge will collect information and data to enhance the understanding of planning and public services by generating information on service delivery, resource consumption, and mobility patterns. All policies relating to physical, digital, and social infrastructure have the potential to be smart, but it can only be so if it is connected to a network of systems that support interlocking operations or functions. Connecting different technological interventions with each other can provide the potential for integrated urban services that can be harnessed to add value and become smart. The integration of data at North East Cambridge should be open, i.e. shared on terms that are not only machine readable, but fair, transparent, and accountable, consistent with the privacy regulation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

North East Cambridge provides an opportunity to embed smart thinking into a new development from its inception. Three key areas were identified as being the most relevant to smart considerations:

  • future mobility, i.e. transport innovation impacting systems of movement – integrated ticketing, applications using real time information for journey planning, etc – as well as new modes of transport – drones, autonomous vehicles, etc.
  • environmental monitoring, i.e. equipment, systems and sensors that can support the remote understanding of environmental performance such as light pollution, noise, air quality, building energy efficiency and flood risk to enable real-time analysis.
  • connectivity, i.e. the enabling infrastructure that will support the realisation of new technological improvements.

All of these could have profound implications on the use of public space, the ability of residents and workers to meet the trip budget, biodiversity net gain, and the capacity of statutory authorities to provide services.

North East Cambridge needs to establish the enabling infrastructure for smart technology and become a test bed for the experimentation of new technology. Lamp posts, for example, could use low energy lighting that is responsive to different times of day and use patterns, as well as also incorporate air quality sensors, publicly-accessible Wi-Fi, electric vehicle charging points, and share their data openly for reuse by others. A multifunctional approach to design and integrated technology can therefore provide a range of smart proposals, allow efficient data monitoring and reduce visual clutter within the public realm.

North East Cambridge's approach to the smart city will be to support open and flexible systems to adapt to social changes and institutional innovations. Platforms and initiatives should be designed around the needs of citizens themselves and actively involve citizens in the design of the next generation of public infrastructure and services, thereby building common ecosystems and common frameworks for interoperable digital services. Processing urban information in real time and making data publicly accessible can facilitate a transformation in how North East Cambridge's public resources will be used, together with improving public services such as mobility, transportation, and health care systems.

North East Cambridge can harness the power of technology and digital innovation to benefit all residents, workers, and visitors, and contribute to good growth by making the economy more sustainable and collaborative. Introducing network technologies in North East Cambridge is not just about providing the city with connectivity, sensors, and AI, but there is also an opportunity to achieve strategic objective priorities such as affordable housing, sustainable mobility, and active citizenship. To ensure that these ambitions are fulfilled development proposals will need to outline their digital infrastructure and open innovation strategies.

Smart buildings

The policy seeks to future proof the built environment within North East Cambridge to adapt to the future economy. This policy is designed to enable the buildings at North East Cambridge to be designed, implemented, operated, and managed in a smart and resilient way in line with the strategic objectives of the Area Action Plan. The policy aims to ensure overall security and safety, resilience, usability, and efficiency of buildings as assets, while reducing the amount of capital and intervention required to achieve these outcomes.

By ensuring that residents and businesses have a wide selection of digital suppliers this will allow for consumer choice and competitive pricing as well as encourage providers to deliver a high quality service. The policy proactively requires developers to identify pre-designated locations for future mobile mast installations to ensure site wide mobile coverage. This should include suitable design of the land or building to accommodate the equipment as well as the provision of power and backhaul connectivity to the mast location.

Smart street furniture

Multifunctional street furniture that is self-powered can help North East Cambridge improve the interactivity of its public spaces by providing public services, information, and connectivity, while at the same time enabling the collection of valuable open data by the Councils to provide opportunities for further innovation.

Open data

The policy aims to use tools such as open data to incubate innovation, improve public services, and empower residents and workers. This needs to be matched by an ethical and responsible innovation strategy, that can make the most out of data and experiments with new innovation such as future mobility, while guaranteeing data sovereignty and privacy in line with GDPR. This will help ensure that public resources and assets are aligned to the principles of good growth.

Future mobility zone

There have been a number of technological enhancements to public and private transport in recent years. The rate of change means that conducting experiments in future mobility at North East Cambridge will enable the area to explore different mobility options which showcase innovation. These trails and experiments will help to provide a long term unique site specific approach to mobility at North East Cambridge.

  • Delivery of smart buildings
  • Delivery of smart street furniture
  • Delivery of future mobility experiments
  • Collation of open data

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 42: Connecting new developments to digital infrastructure

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy CC/1: Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change Policy
  • CC/3: Renewable and Low Carbon Energy in New Developments Policy
  • CC/5: Sustainable Show Home Policy
  • TI/10: Broadband
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