Monthly news from @digibrum
Smart City Blog

Monthly news from @digibrum


A digest of digital and smart city activities during August, which are headed up by Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Chair of the Smart City Commission.


We have been successful with our Horizon 2020, City4Age bid, supporting older people in dealing with mild cognitive impairment and frailty. Many older people can be greatly affected even after a minor change in their living or health conditions and as such this project aims to help individuals capture and make use of their personal data along with other information in a way that will help them maintain their independence for longer.
Birmingham will be a testbed looking at how we can capture  data on individual behaviours with increased frequency through the use of sensing / wearable technologies, which will help in detecting changes in behaviour and develop ICT based interventions to mitigate risk. Our focus will be on supporting older people to get around their locality, offering just-in-time interventions that might encourage greater interaction and stimulate physical and mental exercise.

We will be working with colleagues in social care and health to maximise the value of this work with older people, helping to combat frailty and loneliness.


As part of the funding we received from the Small Business Digital Capability Challenge Fund, and following on from the success of the unveiling of the Greater Birmingham Digital Academy (GBDA) at the Digital Summit in February earlier this year, June saw the launch of an intensive 2 day ‘Summer School’.

Phase one (March – May) of the GBDA went on to deliver eight workshop events across the five main themes of Growth, Efficiency, Cloud, Big Data and Marketing.  Phase two, the Summer School, saw businesses attend two full days where they received in-depth support and information on a range of methodologies for implementing digital strategy into their companies. Through a combination of master-classes and deep dive sessions (finance and operations, marketing, customer relationship management and HR software) into a number of the digital processes, the businesses acquired the tools which could help them to become more agile, efficient and more productive.

We have had very positive feedback from businesses who have attended the Digital Academy, and there is clearly a message from them to receive further support. We are currently working with our partners to develop the next stage of the Academy. 


Working with Birmingham’s telcommunications provider O2, we established a training programme that has supported the city’s housing liaison board members to become digital champions so that they can pass on vital digital skills to their housing tenants.

Using tablet devices provided by the Digital Unite Challenge, the O2 Gurus 6 week training programme included the basics of how to use a tablet, setting up email accounts, searching and staying safe online through to making use of apps such as Skype (for communicating with friends), Whatsapp to send messages for free over wifi and shopping online.

Eric Shipton, one of the first members from the housing board to take part in the training said:
"The training has given me a real taster of what I can do online and the opportunities the internet brings to our tenants. I have learned a great deal and now have the confidence to use the technology and to share my new found skills with others." 

Superfast broadband - M+E Maintenance Solutions
See how the connectivity voucher scheme has helped this Birmingham buildings maintenance company.


A press release issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirms more and more businesses in our region are reaping the benefits of the Birmingham’s Connectivity Voucher Scheme.

The programme, led by Digital Birmingham, which started in March 2014 and has since been extended to Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Worcestershire, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire and The Marches (Herefordshire Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin), has seen a total of 2660 start-ups and businesses connected, with 1621 businesses in Birmingham alone.  The voucher scheme has helped a variety of businesses do more online and with a super-fast internet connection, can make the world of difference, helping them to become more efficient, cheaper to run, and easier to develop. More...


Hackference 2015 is a conference and hackathon based around learning and inspiring people to hack.
The weekend (2 - 4 October 2015) event in Birmingham will see a fantastic line-up of speakers and workshop/code-along sessions for attendees.
For more information and to register, please visit
Google's Digital Garage mentoring sessions are available to small businesses in Birmingham, where they have the chance to seek digital advice from one of Google's expert mentors. 
The Garage is open every day of the week and is based at the Library of Birmingham.
For more information please visit



Below is a selection of some of the funding available to entrepreneurs and businesses in the region as well as discussion groups to have your say on local initiatives.

See a range of funding and business support advice available to start-ups and SMEs; from access to loans, business assist programmes and recruitment advice. More...

Does your organisation need a digital marketing boost? Applications must be in by Sept. This scheme is administered by The Technology & Innovation Futures WM programme. More...

Startup Direct is the founding delivery partner for the government backed Start up Loans scheme. Providing; funding, mentoring and support to businesses based in England. More...

Did you know that as a small business you could be entitled to a government grant of up to £3000 for superfast fibre connectivity? Click here for more details of the scheme.

Contribute your ideas to Birmingham's Smart City Roadmap and aspirations here and tell us about the activities and projects you're working on. Follow conversations online using #smartbrum.

Birmingham City Council would like to know what data you would like to see made open to the public. Register your suggestions via the Birmingham Speaks portal. 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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