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Bristol Is Open announces its first partnerships

From left to right: Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol; Naoki Iizuka, President and CEO of NEC Europe Ltd and George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the launch of Bristol is Open Jon Craig

Press release issued: 16 March 2015

Bristol took a bold step today towards becoming the world’s first Open Programmable City with the launch of Bristol Is Open, a joint venture set up between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council. The Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson and Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol welcomed the partners at a launch event on Tuesday 10 March for the joint venture.

With funding secured from the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme and Innovate UK, the city council and university have built a sophisticated, city scale digital research infrastructure that will enable the testing of future ICT environments. Over time, it will also allow partner organisations to experiment, learn and develop innovative solutions to many challenges of modern urban life. From delivering superfast connectivity for high definition media, to machine to machine communications, to trialling of driverless cars, to high capacity data transfers allowing for global collaboration on research projects, and using sensors to monitor the health of vulnerable citizens.

Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "I'm delighted that the Super Connected Cities programme has helped Bristol to develop the test bed which is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. Making sure our cities are properly equipped to deal with growing technological challenges is part of the Government's long term economic plan."

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Cities across the globe have to face up to the looming challenges posed by increased population, scarcer resources and a changing climate. Our year as European Green Capital is the perfect time to take these first steps towards building the model of the cleaner, greener city of the future.

“Bristol is Open is a project that will improve our understanding of what technology can do to overcome the challenges faced by cities around the world. Its impressive marriage of sophisticated information communication technology and great collaborative working with our friends at the University of Bristol gives me real hope for the future.”

Bristol Is Open will take licence of the infrastructure from Bristol City Council and have direct access to the University’s BlueCrystal 2 supercomputer housed in the Advanced Computing Research Centre. Bringing together a superfast fibre, wireless and mesh network with the immense storage and processing capabilities of BlueCrystal 2, the infrastructure will give partners the chance to trial their solutions at city scale.

Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, commented: “Bristol is renowned across the world as being a centre for digital innovation and world class research. It comes as no surprise that this city leads the way in developing solutions to the major issues facing urban life today. The University will focus on how technology can be deployed, as we see a convergence of ICT and computing environments. I look forward to this significant project developing.”

The first long-term partner to be welcomed is NEC, who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the joint venture.

Dejan Bojic, Director of Strategy & Solutions at NEC Corporation in EMEA, added: “This is a truly ground breaking smart city project. It will use the latest NEC SDN-enabled network technologies, which will operate with Bristol Is Open’s SDN platform, developed by the University of Bristol to create an open, dynamic, virtualised network to serve each traffic type according to its Quality of Service priorities and real-time levels of demand over multi-carrier Wi-Fi, LTE, millimetre wave and optical channels.

“Looking further ahead, we see our partnership with Bristol as a unique opportunity to apply and showcase NEC’s ‘Solutions for Society’ in close collaboration with local government, universities and industrial partners.”

Alongside NEC, Bristol Is Open is also pleased to announce an emerging partnership with our Chinese sister city, Guangzhou.

Jian Rao, Chief Engineer, Committee of Industry and Information Technology of Guangzhou, said: “We are impressed by Bristol Is Open team’s holistic vision. We believe they are creating a good testbed network, which we are hoping to use for reference in our smart city project to be rolled out in Guangzhou. We very much look forward to partnering with Bristol Is Open in the coming year and deepening our knowledge and understanding together.”

Further information

The launch of Bristol Is Open took place on Tuesday 10 March 2015 at Bordeaux Quay, Bristol.

About Bristol Is Open
How cities work is changing. Bristol Is Open is a research infrastructure to explore developments in software, hardware and telecom networks that enable more interaction between people and places and more machine-to-machine communication. The project uses a high performance software defined network as the city operating system, then internet of things platforms and big data analytics feed an emerging number of smart city applications. This is giving people more ability to interact, work and play with the city that they live in, and will help cities address some of the biggest challenges of modern urban life.

About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. By providing a combination of products and solutions that cross utilize the company’s experience and global resources, NEC’s advanced technologies meet the complex and ever-changing needs of its customers. NEC brings more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation to empower people, businesses and society. For more information, visit NEC at

About the Super Connected Cities Programme
The Government has committed £150 million for the SuperConnected Cities programme, which is managed by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Find out more about how Government is transforming broadband across the UK by visiting

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