Key achievements for 2014/15
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Smart City Blog

Welcome to our Annual Report. It sets out some of the key achievements, delivered collaboratively with our partners and city stakeholders and sets out our planned activities for 2015/16.

Key achievements for 2014/15

How we're supporting...

We successfully established...

We won successful funding applications with...

We represent the City of Birmingham...

We contributed to reports and winning proposals...

The Digital Logbook won...

Events we've hosted...

We are Members of...

What people say about us...

Projects have come to a close...

What to expect in 2015/16

Key achievements for 2014/15

We have made good progress in developing the smart city agenda across the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), made substantial inroads in delivering the Smart City Roadmap projects and activities, expanded the £40 million digital infrastructure programme to cover our surrounding LEPs, provided free and unlimited Wi-Fi to over 200 public buildings to improve digital inclusion and access to online services all our citizens and established a Digital Academy to support SMEs to maximise their digital capabilities to accelerate economic growth opportunities. 

Our pioneering work has seen Birmingham recognised as one of the top 15 UK cities for open data, only made possible through the support of our thriving data community and city partners making their data available.

We continue to represent the city on key international and national strategy and policy for helping to shape and steer future developments in the smart city and digital landscape. Our role as an established and trusted honest broker provides a gateway to the City Council, its resources and assets, enabling us to supported our partners in delivering complex and multi-sector projects and activities.  

It’s been a very busy year! I would like to thank all of our partners and collaborators from the public, private, academia, community & voluntary sectors who have made 2014/15 so memorable and look forward to an exciting 2015/16.

Best Wishes
Raj Mack and the Digital Birmingham Team


How we're supporting...


In 2014/15 907 SME's received a broadband grant

Government announced that the Superfast Broadband Voucher Scheme has been extended to neighbouring authorities until March 2016 giving more SME's the opportunity to benefit from the grant. In parallel to this, the Greater Birmingham Digital Academy has been set-up to provide non digital-savvy SME's with apt digital business support sessions which may in turn help their business expand. More...


231 B'ham carers are actively using a novel learning portal

The EU funded DISCOVER - skills for carers project has established a service to support digital skills training for carers that addresses social inclusion, well-being and enhanced IT employability skills. It provides support to users through a portal to information about their caring role and access to learning about digital skills. It has been piloted in the UK, Netherlands, Greece and Spain and is now being mainstreamed in the UK. More...


40 datasets available to view on B'ham Data Factory

In March 2015, we welcomed Paul Maltby, Director Open Data and Government Innovation and his team from Cabinet Office to Birmingham to showcase the excellent work being done by the wider digital community. This has resulted in a quarterley meet-up of Cabinet Office Open Data Champions Group where like-minded individuals attend to discuss and share best practice. More...



of the 39 actions listed in the Smart City Roadmap, 56% are complete
The Roadmap set out the ambitions for the City to work in a more  smarter and collaborative way with its partners and stakeholders by outlining a series of projects and activities that will underpin our credentials as a leading smart city. The actions cover a range of activities from smart infrastructure to skills through to low carbon, health and mobility projects that support economic growth. The Roadmap is a living document that will continue to reflect and prioritise the opportunities to improve the quality of life of our citizens and increase economic outcomes for our businesses. We continue to look for partners to help us to progress the current actions and help shape future opportunities. More...


Over 200 public Council buildings now have wireless connectivity
We continue to support the digital inclusion agendas and this year Ladywood Health & Community Centre become one of the first community buildings to reap benefits of free public WiFi as part of the Wireless in Public Buildings project. More...


We continue to actively support and drive local agendas in contributing our expertise in developing their portfolios of work; GBSLEP, Centro, Smart City Alliance, Innovation Birmingham, Ashram Housing and internal BCC Employment and Green/ Sustainability agendas to name a few.


We launched free public Wi-Fi across the city centre giving visitors and those living in Birmingham the access to unlimited data services on the go.
People are able to do everything from streaming videos, to staying in touch with friends on, for instance, Twitter or Instagram, to looking up the latest bus timetables. With no usage limits, people are also able to download content or surf the web for as long as they need. Listen to the BBC Radio 4 interview.

We successfully established...

Following extensive talks with local and Central Government, we successfully agreed the expansion of the Superfast Connectivity Voucher Scheme to fellow neighbouring LEP's covering Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Worcestershire, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire and The Marches (Herefordshire Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin). 
The Greater Birmingham Digtal Academy launched at the Digital Summit to offer digital business support to LEP-wide SME's.
In conjunction with the launch, we commissioned a LEP wide audit to ascertain the current digital capabilities of SMEs which will be used to support the LEP and other partners to deliver more targeted and tangible support to SME's. More...
The Birmingham Open Data Factory - is providing a rich variety of data that will help people and businesses better understand Birmingham. We are working with council services to release more data, in particular Housing data, as part of the Release of Data Fund project and data requested through FOI requests and the mandatory datasets such as payments over £500.  More...
Building on the success of the Young Rewired State Festival of Code 2012 and 2013, a permanent centre hosted by the BBC has been established as well as  coding activities in South Birmingham via the Social Breakfast. Both seek to support a network of young coders / designers that will use their digital skills and creativity to address social, economic and green challenges.

We won successful funding applications with...

£124K funding 

We led a consortium including partners from Aston University, Boilerhouse, Podnosh and Regional Action West Midlands (RAWM) and successfully secured funding that has helped accelerate and automate open data extraction and publication processes from BCC's proprietary systems onto Birmingham’s new Open Data Factory.

The funding also supported a community engagement programme that has helped to encourage and support citizens, communities and third sector to understand the value of open data to help solve community issues that matter most to them. More...

£100K funding received

Working in partnership with the GBSLEP, a bid for the Small Business Digital Capability Challenge Fund was awarded to assist in developing a business support package which helps SMEs improve their digital skills and ultimately trade and grow online. More...

£150K funding received from combined partner total of £1.3M

Working in conjunction with the Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services, West Midlands Fire Service, Citysave and DWP Employment Outreach, we are working together to give 5000 unemployed Birmingham residents their own personalised Digital Log Book which will help them to identify the barriers of getting back into work and build their employment readiness. This project aims to improve the employability and confidence of those currently not in work to move them onto the next step of their employment journey. More...

We represent the City of Birmingham...


In 2013/14 the Government established the Ministerial Smart Cities Forum, chaired by Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, to bring together cities, industry, sector experts and government departments to identify and address any barriers to development and deployment.
Six task and finish groups have been established to focus on priority areas with Birmingham City Council leading on the Mobility task and finish group. More... 


Birmingham has been asked to sit on the Board of Cities Institute, co-ordinated by Future Cities Catapult and the British Standards Institution. The Board is made up of a handful of cities that are leading on digital developments supporting future and smart city activities as well as major corporate organisations and SME's. 


We represent Birmingham City Council on the Steering Committee of the Knowledge Society Forum (KSF), a key strand of Eurocities that provides the thought leadership and drives the digital and smart cities agendas in Europe. Our involvement has ensured that BCC is viewed as a leader, helping to shape these agendas and ensuring that the City of Birmingham is well positioned to create and capitalise on the emerging opportunities. More... 


Birmingham City Council was invited to the Smart City Expo World Congress (November ‘14) by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to showcase and present its smart city activities, building on Birmingham’s reputation as a pioneer of smart city activities in the UK. 



The forum brings together many of the leading organisations, entrepreneurs, and data enthusiasts in supporting the region to develop and exploit the use of open data. The forum has a particular focus on data usage for community development, service improvement and economic purposes. We would like to thank the forum members many of whom volunteer their time in helping us drive this agenda. We look forward to working with you in 2015/16. More...


Both the Smart and Green Commissions are working together to create an inclusive, sustainable and green economy for Birmingham and the wider region by accelerating opportunities to exploit smart technologies. To ensure we maximise these opportunities and work collaboratively with city stakeholders, we have combined workstreams on mobility, energy resources and building energy efficiency, and will work jointly to develop the Green Data Observatory, through our leading work on open data.

We contributed to reports and winning proposals...

  • Birmingham Connected Report
  • Digital Access Point - Employment Portal
  • New Local Government Smart City Report
  • PAS Smart City Advisory Board
  • Supported the development of the winning EIT Health proposal led locally by the WM Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) and provide ongoing support through the Steering Group
  • WorkED with the Creative City Partnership to pull together a favourable proposal to bring the headstrong Festival of Code back to Birmingham #FoC2015

The Digital Logbook won...


Digital Birmingham and BCC Landlord Services were named Digital Community Pioneer of the Year at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards 2014. More...


The Universal Credit Pilot Team won the Innovation Award at the Chamberlain Awards 2014.


The Department for Work and Pensions funded Universal Credit Digital Logbook pilot, involved the roll-out of over 4000 Digital Logbooks to social housing tenants.

Events we've hosted...

The Greater Birmingham Digital Academy, formed in conjunction with the Birmingham and Solihull LEP, was launched at the Digital Summit.The day started with a VIP breakfast event which shared the findings of the first ever Greater Birmingham Digital Audit where there were three clear messages that emerged; businesses in Greater Birmingham want to be able to access business support more easily, they want to develop their digital skills and they want to be able to access reliable and affordable high speed broadband services which they see as being critical to their business growth. 
Videos highlights and presentations from the day here
As part of the DISCOVER - skills for carers project, we delivered a significant international event dealing with the application of digital technologies to innovate and redefine health, wellbeing and care systems, to tackle social exclusion and health inequalities as well as drive economic growth.
View highlights from the event here
In conjunction with Digital Media Businesses (DMB), and part of Birmingham's Digital Week 2015, we arranged a breakfast event, chaired by Microsoft, aimed at SME's in the Greater Birmingham region to give them an insight into how digital and creative industries can help their business grow.
The national Digital Care Surgery, supported by our partners InnovateUK, brought together talented digital innovators, healthcare professionals, third sector and academia to stretch the boundaries of digital innovation in care.

We are members of...

  • Soctim
  • The Network of Intelligent Cities
  • Steering Committee of Knowledge Society Forum (Eurocities)
  • Chief Information Officers (CIO) Club
  • Cities Standards Institute
  • Ministerial Smart City Forum
  • Cabinet Office, Open Data Champions Group
  • West Midlands Open Data Forum (WMODF)
  • European Network of Living Labs (EnoLL)
  • Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
  • Healthy Villages Board
  • The Creative City Partnership Board
  • Digital Media Businesses Cluster
  • Smart City Alliance Group
  • Green Commission Board
  • EIT Health Steering Group
  • The Chemistry Club
  • Welfare Group
  • Science City Low Carbon Working Groups

What people say about us...

"Digital Birmingham have collaborated with the key organisations to produce an ambitious framework, and a clear set of actions, for the future of the city. This is an exemplary smart city plan".

Peter Madden, CEO of the Future Cities Catapult

"Digital Birmingham are massive supporter of what we do and it's great to know I've got the team in my corner. They have pushed us to continue our innovation voyage into the civic tech arena and even supporting us to facilitate the first ever digital civic activism exchange between the UK and Cameroon, here in Birmingham and The Black Country."

Nathan Coyle of the Social Breakfast

Projects have come to a close...

The EU funded Smartspaces project has demonstrated how ICT can be exploited to achieve energy savings in public buildings using the Council House and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as exemplars. The findings from this project will be used to support the city council in delivering its energy savings commitments. More...
View a short video about the SMARTSPACES project here

What to expect in 2015/16

The challenges for the public sector in the forthcoming years are well documented, and with them, bring a real recognition that in order to achieve and embed meaningful, scalable and sustainable benefits for our citizens, business and visitors, we need to work collaboratively with our city and regional stakeholders.
Our aims for 2015/16, will be to continue to provide strategic leadership on the development of the digital and smart city agendas and to create the conditions and opportunities for our partners to develop new and novel activities and services that will significantly improve  the quality of life for our citizens and deliver accelerated economic outcomes and jobs for our business community.
Our approach will focus on people, places and economy and will ensure that we:
  • Lead the city, GBSLEP and the wider region to develop its digital and smart city strategic approach
  • Refresh the Smart City Roadmap to reflect the changing priorities of the city and region by developing new projects and activities in collaboration with our stakeholders and partners
  • Secure buy in and resources of city stakeholders to support the development and delivery of the Future Council
  • Continue to build digital infrastructure that underpins and accelerates digital and smart city deployments for the GBSLEP and wider region
  • Create the environment and conditions for local citizens and businesses to have a meaningful and participative role in shaping and delivering smart and future city outcomes   
  • Work with national government and international and european bodies to influence and shape the digital and smart city agendas and draw down funding and expertise for the delivery of innovative projects in order to enhance the region’s credentials and reputation
We know that we cannot deliver the above aims without your support, expertise and resources and so, we look forward to an exciting 2015/16 working in collaboration and partnership with you.           
The Greater Birmingham Digital Academy's Summer School is set to take place on 24 and 25 June at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth, Birmingham.
During the course of the two days delegates will attend sessions in two of three themes on Digital Marketing, Digital Driven Growth and Digital Data in a bid to h
elp B2B businesses understand the impact digital can have on their growth potential.  More...
If you'd like further information on any of the topics covered above, please call the team on 0121 303 8779.
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