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Safer cycling project wins BT smart city contest

Northern Irish startup See.Sense scoops £15,000 prize in BT smart city contest after developing a connected bike light

See.Sense, the Northern Ireland-based startup behind a connected cycle light called Icon, has been crowned the overall winner of BT’s Infinity Lab SME Awards 2016: Connected Cities.

A partnership between the telco, the Cabinet Office, Milton Keynes smart city programme MK:Smart and TechHub, the awards set out to explore and uncover emerging technologies to support connected cities.

As overall winner, the firm was awarded a prize fund of £15,000, alongside six month’s membership of TechHub, and the opportunity to establish a pilot project in Milton Keynes. It also won the specific smart city category.

See.Sense’s Icon product is a connected bike light specifically designed to keep cyclists safer on the roads. It contains a number of sensors recording data on crashes, near-miss events, road surface quality and light levels, for example.

The information gathered by the Icon system can ultimately be used by city planners to create better services for cyclists.

Applications for the data include identifying accident blackspots that could benefit from traffic calming or segregated cycling infrastructure, or identifying and repairing potholes before they become hazards.

“We’re honoured to have won the smart city prize and be judged the overall winner given the high standard of entries we were up against,” said See.Sense co-founder and chief marketing officer Irene McAleese.

“We’ve gained some valuable insights from the other companies that have taken part and the feedback we’ve had during the competition.

“Having the opportunity to develop our idea into something that will really help transform cities of the future and make an impact on society is really exciting. Working with Milton Keynes will be a fantastic case study to showcase our capabilities.”

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Besides smart cities, the awards also hosted categories covering the connected society and the internet of things (IoT).

The connected society prize was won by Sitekit, a healthcare tech startup based on the Isle of Skye, which developed a digital version of the NHS’ paper-based “red book” child healthcare record.

The IoT prize went to Vivacity Labs, which showcased intelligent traffic lights that will monitor bike, pedestrian and vehicle movements in real time to quantify traffic levels and identify problems for local authorities.

Both companies received prize money of £7,500, and six months support from BT to further develop their projects.

TechHub global chief operating officer (COO) Andrew Tibbitts said the contest had drawn entrants from across Europe and the US, but the event had showed that the UK was generating startups of particularly high quality.

Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock added: “Being a smarter government is about recasting the relationship between the citizen and the state, making public services simpler, clearer and faster, and taking advantage of state-of-the-art digital technologies.

“To achieve this, we need to draw on the expertise of digital innovators from all over the country – especially small businesses, which we know to be some of the most innovative in the UK.”

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)

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