Belfast, United Kingdom

Episode: #25 Belfast: Smart District or to "Design and Co-Design with Partners"

Guests Deborah Colville, the City Innovation Manager & Head of Smart Belfast, and Nikita Shetty, the UK and Ireland Lead and Senior Consultant for BABLE Smart Cities


Find transcript here


Summaries of Key Takeaways:  

  • Smart Belfast Evolution: The journey of Smart Belfast began in 2017, focusing on innovative solutions to urban challenges, leveraging local digital sector strengths and academic excellence.
  • Innovation and Co-Design: Emphasis on collaboration, co-design with stakeholders, and the development of a smart and innovation district through stakeholder consultation and co-creation exercises.
  • Project Implementation: Examples of projects include energy efficiency improvements and the development of an autonomous vehicle shuttle bus, showcasing the practical application of stakeholder ideas.
  • District Approach Benefits: The smart district approach focuses on the city center, aiming to integrate investment, innovation, and regeneration efforts to create a livable, innovative urban environment.
  • Funding and Partnership: Success in securing diverse funding sources was attributed to focusing on defined challenges, partnership working, and a strategic approach to project development.
  • Stakeholder Management: Effective stakeholder engagement, ensuring mutual benefits and co-designing programs to maintain partner involvement and support throughout project lifecycles.
  • Leadership and Strategic Vision: The leadership from city executives and political support has been crucial in aligning strategic direction and investments towards Belfast's digital and innovation ambitions.


“To you, what is a Smart City?”

Deborah Colville: “Ooh, okay. Um, I suppose a smart city is a city that's clear about what it needs to achieve for its citizens and actively sets in case mechanisms to, um, harness innovation technologies and ideas from a fantastic ss bringing in world leading research, uh, from our fantastic universities, um, and aligning them, uh, to achieve those particular ambitions. And I think also as a smart city, um, you know, we need to recognize the richness of opportunity from sharing data and from opening our doors, um, to businesses and collaborators globally. Again, all with the e focus, delivering new venture services, supporting our economy, um, and ultimately just helping to deliver our richer quality of life for our citizens.“