News story

nquiringminds: making cities smarter places to live and work

A business that won an SBRI contract to develop an open data platform is helping cities to deliver key services in a smarter fashion.

What does a smart city do for us?

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Internet of things and smart cities technology business nquiringminds is helping UK cities to work in a more connected way with the support of Innovate UK.

The business won a £1 million SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) contract in 2015 to develop an open city data platform that gathers data from different sources and allows cities to capture, secure, analyse and use data, in order for them to run smarter.

The nquiringminds platform is now being used by Hampshire County Council and the cities of Southampton, Cambridge and Liverpool.

The system allows data from devices and sensors to be shared and analysed in real time. It connects with legacy equipment and intelligently processes data, providing key insights for the planning and running of a city’s operations.

Breaking the dam holding back data

Nick Allott, chief executive of nquiringminds, said:

If cities are to be connected, data needs to flow securely and intelligently. Providing the technology to break down the dam holding back this data is at the core of everything we do.

It means a social worker can tell if an older adult is moving around the house OK; a maintenance company can tell when key equipment is going to fail; and a homeowner can make sure they get the best deal on their energy usage.

nquiringminds’ sensors are being used in 200 council homes in Southampton to predict when refurbishment will be required.

The open data platform is also being used in the management of waste, traffic, energy, agriculture, infrastructure planning and telecare.

Innovating ahead of market demand

The SBRI contract was awarded as part of Innovate UK’s Smart Cities Solutions competition, which sought answers to the challenges faced by cities in energy, data and transport.

Nick added:

Without the contract from Innovate UK we would not have been able to pursue the smart city market.

It has taken a huge amount of risk out and allowed us to innovate ahead of market demand. Having Innovate UK behind us gives us a huge amount of validation, and this allows us to work with cities who might otherwise not trust a small technology company.

The company has grown from two people when it was set up in 2010 to employ 12 today.

It is working with the universities of Southampton and Oxford on aspects of its platform and aims to work with every city in the UK.