Smart lighting and route app aim to get Scots on their bikes

Tue, 2013-07-23 06:10 -- Jesse Berst

biking in GlasgowIn theory, getting people onto bicycles can solve many of a city's congestion and emissions problems. In practice, cities often spend far too much on "soft" campaigns that try to talk people into giving up their cars. Far too often cities pay lots of money for little results.

Glasgow hopes to overcome that challenge by applying a range of smart technologies. It will use analytics to study where bikers go to uncover the best pathways. It will use computing power to suggest the optimal routes (e.g. fastest or flattest). It will even pilot a stretch of smart street lights that will increase brightness when they detect an oncoming cyclist.

I confess I'm still skeptical. Have you been to Glasgow in winter? I wouldn't want to be riding home on a bike even if the street lights did point the way. But I was comforted to read that Glasgow intends to use the data to tell it precisely which areas to target for segregated bike lanes. That's a tactic that really will make a difference. But it's so expensive that you must target your efforts carefully. Smart city analytics to the rescue. – Jesse Berst


The Herald of Scotland reports that the smart lighting and bike route app is being developed by the Glasgow City Council as part of the £24 million Future City Initiative that the city won in a competition with other UK cities. The competition was sponsored by the UK Technology Strategy Board, a Smart Cities Council Advisor.

By increasing cycling and walking rates the council hopes to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and at the same time tackle obesity, the Herald says.

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.