Reference Library – Scotland – Highlands – Inverness

Caithness and Sutherland proposed local development plan …

1st March 2016

Time is running out to have your say on the Caithness and Sutherland Proposed Local Development Plan (CaSPlan). The publication of the Proposed CaSPlan represents another major step forward in the preparation of a new planning framework for Caithness and Sutherland over the next 20 years and beyond. The plan – published for an 8 week consultation which started on 22 January 2016 – sets out the Council’s view on how and where the Caithness and Sutherland area should grow in the future. Comments on the plan have been coming in steadily, but with only around two weeks left of the consultation the Council is urging anyone who wants to comment but has not already done so, to submit their comments before the deadline of midday on Friday 18 March 2016. David Cowie of the Development Plans Team said, You should let us know if you object to or support a site identified for development or any other part of the Proposed Plan, the reasons why you object/support and if you object then what you would like changed. As we are at a formal stage of the plan making process, any comments received after the deadline may not be considered. All unresolved issues arising from the consultation will be considered at an Examination by a government appointed Reporter who will end up making the final decision. David Cowie explains, Please ensure you submit all relevant information at this stage as you may not be provided with another opportunity to do so before the Plan is finalised and adopted. Anything submitted to us after the deadline of midday on Friday 18 March 2016 may not be accepted by the Scottish Government Reporter.

The easiest way to view the Proposed Plan and make comments is online at You will need to register to submit comments but can then use these login details for future consultations and will be kept informed of future events. It also allows you to save draft comments and stores your submission for your future reference. The Plan may also be viewed at public and mobile libraries and the Council’s Service Points within the Plan area and in Tain, and at planning offices in Wick (Caithness House), Golspie (Drummuie Offices) and Inverness (Council HQ). Anyone who wishes to comment but is unable to access or use the website (for example who cannot access the internet) should contact the Development Plans Team soon on 01349 886608 and they will agree an alternative method for those persons to submit their comments.

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Three steps towards a hierarchy of needs for smart cities

Smart cities face challenges around network connectivity, standardisation and data governance, say IoT experts, and these needs must be met for them to flourish

Undeniably, smart cities are the wave of the future, providing one of the most intriguing and innovative applications for the internet of things (IoT), and offering untold benefits for governments and citizens around service provision, quality of life, security and sustainability in an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world. However the deployment and smooth running of smart city projects have yet to be fully worked out. In the UK alone, several projects such as Bristol is Open and MK:Smart are forging ahead with much success. However, they are merely pilots, independent of one another, and it will eventually be crucial for some form of government policy to be laid down.

At the IoT Tech Expo fair in London, held in February 2016, a panel made up of a number of smart city advocates and experts debated some of the biggest challenges facing smart city projects. The panel laid out the basic needs that must be met for smart cities to flourish, and deliver on the big promises that have been made. If these needs can be met, then we will be well on our way to truly smart cities.

1. The need for connectivity

At its heart, the IoT demands broadband connectivity and if you haven t got that thing, your embryonic smart city project probably ain t worth a swing in the first place.

Up to now, discussions around the IoT have tended to centre on the networks that will support the sensors themselves. Sensors tend to be discrete units that are not online all the time, the technobabble tends to be around low-power wide area networks (WANs), Bluetooth or other, similar standards such as Zigbee. This is all very well when all you are doing is sending small, chatty bursts of data back to a central hub, but if anything useful is to come of that data, the connectivity at the other end must be addressed. In essence, while a local authority may want to go all out to deploy sensors to support an integrated public transport app bringing live service information to users on the move if the people who ride on the buses cannot access it, there is no point.

BT s developers agree that superfast broadband must be a universal reality to support smart cities. That agreement could be a sign of an imminent bust-up between BT Openreach and BT s research and development team at Adastral Park, or more likely a reflection of the sheer size and diversity of BT. John Davies, chief researcher of future business technology at BT, says: We need to put in place more underlying technologies and networks to enable smart city technologies to be employed more effectively. The need for broadband becomes even more important when you realise that many users of local authority services precisely those who could be the biggest beneficiaries of smart city technology tend towards lower socio-economic brackets and digital exclusion.

Smart city technology has a role to play in socio-economic challenges.

However, it has to be underpinned by other technologies. I think of digital inclusion, for example, and poor areas are nearly always the same areas with the lowest rates of broadband penetration, says Davies. Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and shadow digital economy minister Chi Onwurah agrees: We need everyone online and able to access services and products digitally, because the full benefits of the internet of things cannot be realised if millions cannot have access. The debate about smart cities will be bogged down in technicalities without connectivity being addressed, warns Onwurah, who used her keynote address to call for the IoT industry to start lobbying government for better broadband. After all, she says, the wider industry has more credibility and certainly more authority than the politicians in charge of the national broadband roll-out.


The need for standardisation

Jonny Voon, lead technologist at Innovate UK, says that so far, he has seen too much emphasis on smart city technology in the context of global megacities urban conglomerations such as Beijing, Mumbai, S o Paulo or Tokyo, home to many millions of people each.
At that scale you have many challenges, but smart cities should not just be focused on cities of that scale, because all cities have challenges, says Voon. Yes, look at those megacities, but look at smaller initiatives too, because they may be still able to scale appropriately. Civic Tech Amsterdam CEO Katalin Gallyas advocates a collaborative approach to smart cities and in her role as taskforce member at Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC). The OASC is an initiative founded on the idea that one city alone is not a market, and that an open smart city market must be created based on the needs of urban communities, interoperability, and standards. OASC has more than 70 cities on its roster, including Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki and Lisbon.

In the UK it counts Aberdeen, Bristol, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, Manchester, Perth and Stirling as members. The organisation is also active in a number of other countries, including Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Italy and Spain.

This is the way we try to educate cities not to procure too fast, to look around and find out how to create your solution, says Gallyas. Meanwhile Paul Wilson, managing director of smart city programme Bristol is Open, brings the debate on smart city standards back to the underlying network.

Smart cities are about people, and just building the technology won t get you where you want to go. In Bristol, we have thought about networks as technology-agnostic, heterogeneous networks, typically based on a software-defined network, where there are two big standards OpenFlow and OpenDaylight.

There is lots of interesting work going on in how networks are architected, which is leading to a burst of innovation. Standardisation would be extremely helpful, especially for application developers. That lack of market is currently preventing smart cities from scaling.

BT s John Davies says that the smart city stack encompasses sensors, networks and data, and standards are definitely emerging in all those areas.

We want to break down vertical, siloed applications and make all of that data from each silo available in an open ecosystem. That s what Hypercat is all about, which we re using in BT.

More support for easier access to data in a non-siloed approach will maximise the value of that data, take away the pain for developers, and support innovative SMEs small to medium-sized enterprises that will drive smart city ecosystems forward, says Davies.

Michael Mulquin, smart cities standards expert at the British Standards Institute (BSI), agrees that smart city standards need to play their part in breaking down siloes, but beyond data to encompass management and strategy as well, where plans can often conflict.

It s not just about knitting together technologies, but management and process, and making sure the city is able to make use of technology effectively to work better, says Mulquin.


The need for data governance

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Coastguard shortage, Gaelic spat, Gertrude roundup and more

In The Shetland Times this week.

A political spat erupts between Tavish Scott and the SNP over comments on Gaelic language.

Coastguard staff in Inverness forced to provide cover due to a local crew shortage

We round up all the news from last week s Storm Gertrude.

Arts reviews include comedian Rich Hall, Ten Tonne Dozer s new album and a book by Andrew Beattie.

BT dismiss criticism of their broadband delivery record.

and much more.