1. Agreeing on our city challenges


The Belfast Agenda sets out the long term ambition for the city. Getting there needs common agreement and understanding amongst partners on the challenges we need to tackle together.

City partners must have to hand common methods and resources for identifying, understanding and designing solutions for urban challenges.

Elements of this foundation?

  1. Shared processes for defining a challenge and inviting others to develop innovative solutions.
  2. A co-design and testing environment for collaborating with citizens and stakeholders to define challenges and service requirements.
  3. Effective methods of communication, networking and understanding between groups to draw out priority challenges and rally stakeholders to collaborate.
  4. Generating, gathering and sharing city data to help prioritise challenge areas; understand problems better; shape proposals; and measure impact.

Some of the city’s resources already available:

  • Ulster University’s living lab facilities such as the BioDevices Lab
  • PwC and Google’s ‘Hive Lab’ promotes co-design methods for digital product design
  • The Department of Finance’s Innovation team stimulate service design innovation across NI Government
  • The Digital Catapult’s design methodologies accelerate service innovation in collaboration with suppliers.
  • Living lab methods are being used for healthcare applications, making use of Belfast’s advanced healthcare research
  • Belfast City Council is working with The Young Foundation to deliver a Social Innovation programme to equip residents with the tools to make changes in their neighbourhood
  • OpenData NI, Northern Ireland’s open data portal
  • Data to inform our understanding of city challenges can be sourced from the Administrative Data Research Centre at QUB, NICVA’s Detail Data portal, NISRA’s NINIS small area data portal Belfast has a growing community of innovators, data scientists, technologists and active citizens. The city has a strong digital infrastructure that offers first class connectivity for organisations and individuals. To harness this resource to better address city challenges, we will work with partners to seek to build four Smart Belfast foundations.

2. Encouraging our city's innovators


Belfast has expertise that can support our smart city approach in our universities, our businesses, communities and public bodies. This can be leveraged, to embed innovation across the city.

We will do this through tools, training, networking, prizes, funding, marketing and much more. In doing so, a Smart Belfast will support investment, skills and jobs creation in growth areas of the economy.

Elements of this foundation?

  1. Capacity-building programme with communities and public-sector staff on creative use of data and technology for problem-solving, including data literacy and visualisation.
  2. Promotional activities and channels to raise Belfast’s profile as a smart city at home and abroad.
  3. Web-based engagement to share practice, challenge calls, support tools, and facilitate networking.
  4. Standard working arrangements with partners in the city, e.g. through common MOUs (memorandum of understanding).
  5. Participation in national and international networks to acquire knowledge, promote Belfast, and support project work.
  6. Connection to informal networks of developers and entrepreneurs.
  7. Network of centres for smart city related disciplines and for supporting innovation.

Some of the city’s resources already available:

3. Unlocking city data


Innovators and researchers in Belfast need quality data and infrastructure to develop new ideas, applications and products.

Individual projects will generate these assets but we need to ensure that they remain available across the wider innovator community through standards, sharing agreements, platforms and other mechanisms. At the same time, data must be secure and sensitively handled. Belfast must be able to reassure citizens that their data is safe through appropriate governance and oversight.

Elements of this foundation:

  1. City team set up to manage the development and delivery of data infrastructure.
  2. Data task force that ensures the production, maintenance and provision of data from different stakeholders
  3. Data is harmonised through open standards to meet agreed criteria: formats, licences, information policy, etc.
  4. Well-maintained web services, collecting users’ feedback, updating data catalogues.
  5. Well-maintained network of public officials, developers, companies and citizens, that leverages data infrastructure to improve quality of life and address city challenges.

Some of the city’s resources already available:

4. Robust delivery mechanisms


To build partnerships that will last, a Smart Belfast will need processes that will provide governance and accountability mechanisms that are not onerous but which encourage the flexibility and learning environment that innovation demands. Creating these goal-driven mechanisms is critical to collaboration among the large number of diverse stakeholders.

Elements of this foundation:

  1. Support from city leaders and key influencers at city and regional level
  2. Strategic and ethical oversight of the programme.
  3. An appropriate smart city entity e.g. arm’s length company, voluntary association, unofficial group etc.
  4. d) Provision of sustainable financing that can draw from stable sources
  5. Provision of funding for projects through funding management and business model expertise.
  6. Capacity to negotiate complex and innovative contracting and procurement arrangements with partners and with supplying SMEs and other vendors.
  7. Project management capacity for gathering, filtering, prioritising and managing proposals through to delivery.
  8. Creation, maintenance and evaluation of business case for smart city activities.

Some Of The City’s Resources Already Available: