Conference to ask if Norwich could be East Anglia’s first smart city

A driverless car made by Google. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

A driverless car made by Google. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File) - Credit: AP

Has East Anglia got the potential to host a smart city? Could that city be Norwich?

Where are LoRa networks operating at the moment? Picture: The Things Network

Where are LoRa networks operating at the moment? Picture: The Things Network - Credit: The Things Network

These are the questions which will be unpacked at an inter-national technology conference coming to the East of England next month.

The Things Conference on Tour has visited some of Europe's most advanced cities in the world, from Amsterdam to Pisa, and will come to Norwich to bring together experts in Long Range Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN) to discuss how the technology can be used to build a smart city.

LoRaWan combines low power devices, which can communicate location or environment over a wide area.

Emily-Jayne Crittenden is the director of Soft Apps Ltd, and organiser of the two-day conference.

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She said: 'A practical example of LoRaWAN in action could be a car park. Low power sensors would detect whether a space is free or not, and relay that information to a mobile device, showing up as green or red. Bringing it on another level, this could be linked so that a driver's sat nav automatically took the vehicle to the closest available parking space.'

As well as providing a chance to teach businesses about the technology, Ms Crittenden said the conference would offer a chance for people who may not know anything about LoRaWAN to learn more and get involved in its development for commercial and service use.

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'Norwich could absolutely become one of the leading smart cities in the UK. Norfolk has a very receptive council to LoRaWAN and the area also has the skills to make use of the technology,' she said.

'Cities like Bruges and Amsterdam are already smart cities, so when I was approached by an individual from Microsoft about bringing the conference to Norwich whilst on tour I jumped at the chance.

'We need to work corroboratively across the country to have the infra-structure in place to be able to support, for example, automated cars.'

The event will also put theory into practise with a Hack A Thing event, where attendees will create solutions to real world problems facing local authorities.

The event will be held on October 15 and 16 at St Andrews Hall in Norwich.

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