One year after Sunderland was named Smart City of the year, Housing Industry Leaders looks at how the city has kept up its reputation and what the future holds.
In 2020, Digital Leaders UK named Sunderland as Smart City of the Year for their innovative approaches to digital, business, and social outcomes, all focused with citizens in mind.
Now, after winning Digital Council of The Year 2021, Sunderland is leading the way with its advanced approaches to regenerating cities.
Sunderland’s plan is to become a dynamic, healthy and vibrant Smart City by 2030, and at the heart of this is a stronger city centre with more businesses, housing, and cultural opportunities.
Plans include 1000 smart homes on Riverside Sunderland’s former Vaux brewery site
Hoping to home 2,500 new residents and 10,000 workers, the smart homes will be designed to meet 21st-century living patterns that adapt to future change.
They also aim to meet sustainability targets by undertaking modern methods of construction to dramatically cut carbon and meet high thermal standards in both construction and energy use in line with the UK’s net-zero goals.
These renovations will further Sunderland’s advancements to becoming a Smart City by 2030, which Assistant Director of Smart Cities, Liz St Louis, spoke about at the recent Housing Industry Leaders Virtual Smart Tour event. She said: “By 2030 Sunderland will be a connected, international city with opportunities for all.”
It really is the word ‘connected’ that started our journey. By connected we mean connecting our people, connecting our partnerships, we mean connecting place through transport and physical infrastructure, but importantly for us to, we want digital connectivity.
Digital connectivity is transforming people’s quality of life. According to research commissioned by Ofcom in 2017, 64 per cent of people said the internet was an essential part of their day-to-day life. This only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improving digital connectivity around the city is a key focus for Sunderland
The issue of connectivity became ever more prominent during Covid-19 as it highlighted the digital divide between citizens, and the impact this had on everyday lives.
As everything from education to work, shopping for essentials and even access to critical information and services shifted online, the need for improved accessibility to the internet became clear.
Talking about plans for improved digital connectivity, Liz said: “We are continuing to invest in our 5G technology, upskill businesses and residents, plus supporting the development of digital resources within the region. Every project, activity and decision is based on this philosophy as we collaborate for the wider success of our city and our joint future.”
For us as a council, this is about delivering social and economic good. It really is about driving real benefits for end-users, and very importantly for us and our politicians, this is about leaving no one and nowhere behind.