Member in the Spotlight: In Manchester, the human scale is an essential part of the smart city concept

According to Rafael Cuesta, head of the Greater Manchester innovation team, in the UK context, the impact that technology and innovation has on society, behaviours and culture is significant. For that reason, the approach on a Smart City is one that helps deliver the emerging Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 (Greater Manchester’s new SUMP) through encouraging social, behavioural and cultural changes in the citizens that are aligned with social, economic and environmental objectives. Another important aspect Rafael Cuesta mentions is the empowerment of citizens to make a positive contribution to city life.

In terms of transport, innovative steps such as the “Get me There” card have already been taken. The card is meant to help with further innovation on payment systems and smart mobility. Today, more than 500,000 concessionary pass holders across Greater Manchester have been rolled out and more than 60,000 smart journeys are now taking place every week. Further investions were made in a new multimodal, real-time and open data journey planning API, that will enable mobility app developers provide citizens with an improved customer experience of public transport.

For Manchester, the Smart City concept is not only about technology – the human scale is an essential part of the smart city. Good quality spaces, attention to the public realm, and an emphasis in creating streets at the human scale, with improved air quality, safety and improved quality of experience for their people is fundamental in the cities of the future. European cities should embrace this to increase their liveability rating. Especially people have a crucial role in developing smart cities by taking advantage of the talent and activities of self-decisive, independent and aware citizens. This is why the Smart City concept in Manchester is about people and enabling them to achieve a high quality of life.

Read here an interview with Rafael Cuesta, head of The Greater Manchester Innovation Team

This insight has been published in the 'Thinking Cities' magazine, a joint publication of Polis and H3B Media. Issue 5, November/2015, page 28