Birmingham Smart City Commission – Terms of Reference

These are the terms of reference for the Birmingham Smart City Commission
Statement of Ambition 
Birmingham is acknowledged for its industrial heritage and as a powerhouse of the  industrial revolution that was borne out of a dynamic spirit of entrepreneurial collaboration with strong civic leadership to provide for its citizens.
Cities everywhere are now finding themselves challenged on many levels: a slow economy, a growing but also ageing population putting existing services under strain, partly legacy infrastructure that is no longer fit for purpose and rapid technological change that has raised citizen’s expectations about how services are being delivered (e.g. real-time information, instant communication and ‘always on’
society). With these challenges comes the momentum and exciting opportunity to  redefine our city that will secure our sustainability and prosperity for decades to come.
Our ambition is to create a city that can deal with these challenges and address future city needs by:
  • making it adaptable and knowledgeable about itself
  • having the means to assign scarce resources in the most beneficial way
  • creating a future-proof city that is attractive to citizens, business, visitors and investors alike
  • enabling a culture of innovation and collaboration.
Birmingham has started its journey towards addressing many of  these challenges, and is putting in place the governance, infrastructure and enabling activities to establish Birmingham as a leading smart city.
Birmingham is recognised by National Government as a strategic leader in its approach and has been working with BIS and the British Standards Institution (BSI) to shape national policy and create frameworks for smart city implementation. It is working with the Technology Strategy Board, the Catapults and other organisations
to drive innovation and accelerate transformational change within the City. Under the leadership of Councillor McKay, Cabinet Member for Green, Safe and Smart City, we published the Smart City Vision setting out the challenges and the strategic and collaborative approaches the City will take in order to enable Birmingham to stand out as a truly smart city, one that meets its future needs.
A task and finish group was put in place to further develop the vision into a roadmap and action plan. It was recognised that the Commission going forward must demonstrate strong leadership, be outward looking, bring together expertise and strategic thinkers from key fields to direct and deliver the longer term strategic  vision for the city.

Work to Date
In 2012 the City set up a number of advisory bodies / Commissions to help address  issues ranging from climate change, youth employment, social cohesion and  inclusion, health to economic growth opportunities and the development of skills  and enterprise. In line with this, the interim Smart City Commission was set up in
2012, which created the below vision that was published in January 2013 and the full  document can be downloaded from the Digital Birmingham website.


Many of these advisory bodies have already produced their own actions plans for  and it is clear that there are considerable overlaps in the organisations that need to work together, the technologies and the resources required to deliver the outcomes. The Smart City Commission now has the opportunity to play a central role in bringing together these agendas to maximise their potential.
The Smart City Vision sets out the challenges and opportunities for the city and the wider region. Working collaboratively with industry, business, community and academic leaders the Smart City task and finish group has developed the roadmap and action plan to implement the vision.
This roadmap provides the strategic direction for the city across the 3 pillars of People, Place and Economy. It aims to apply and embed smart principles such as cross-sector cooperation, integrating services and use of data and information for decision making into all city activities in order to deliver better outcomes and quality
of life for its citizens.
The Roadmap is a statement of our aspiration to change the city as much as it documents specific actions that we have identified for the short term; it is meant to be a living document that needs to be reviewed and adapted on a regular basis. This will allow us to continually embrace new opportunities as they emerge.

It is important to note that the speed of change in the technology sector is considerable making it difficult to develop detailed plans beyond a 3-year horizon.  However, where activities relate to infrastructure, organisational or behavioural change they may well span a 5-10 year outlook.

The Smart City Commission
The Smart City task and finish group recognised the high importance of local  leadership and active involvement from strategic organisations that make up a city to be represented on the Commission. Working with local leaders and institutions will provide an opportunity to implement the far reaching vision and strategic
approach that will set the wheels in motion for its delivery.

The Commission therefore needs to:

  • Be strategic and independent in its thinking with the ability to influence the strategic direction of the City and enable close cooperation of leaders and experts across key disciplines
  • Provide strong leadership and citywide governance in order to establish a holistic and integrated approach to city wide planning for Birmingham and the wider Greater Birmingham and Solihull region
  • Have the authority and accountability to ensure the delivery of the Smart City Roadmap and Action Plan, monitor its progress and promote its activities locally, nationally and internationally
  • Be aware of and influence of the development of new standards essential to smart city operations for example in areas of interoperability, data, performance and commissioning

Aims of the Commission:

  • Implement the Smart City vision and change how the future city operates
  • Establish the leadership and governance structure for the future city
  • Identify emerging challenges and strategic opportunities for the city and wider region
  • Put in place the drivers and enablers that will provide opportunities for ICT  advancement in the city
  • Create the conditions for attracting and accelerating investment in the city

What the Commission will do:

  • Endorse the roadmap and action plan and ensure they continue to evolve and reflect the need of the city, its citizens and businesses
  • Review and advise on the best use of changing technologies, suitability of existing infrastructure and processes to maximise benefits for citizens and the economy
  • Work with other commissions and create partnerships where appropriate to address synergies and ensure an integrated city approach
  • Liaise, influence and advise on the delivery plans of own and other
  • organisations to secure resources for the delivery of the roadmap and action plan and identify funding and investment opportunities
  • Evaluate results and existing work undertaken in the field

Commission membership:
The commission needs to include local representation from a range of fields (ICT, Health, Environment, Transport, Education, Skills, Economy) to facilitate an understanding of the societal issues in conjunction with technological advancement to deliver the future city vision. As this is an evolving topic, it is important that that a
number of external experts are included to ensure that the City benefits from the latest developments and opportunities.
In addition to the Birmingham Smart City Commission a wider stakeholder group (both internal to BCC and external) will be sought to ensure wider challenge and peer review around the city’s vision and priorities.

These terms of reference can all be downloads in the Smart City Commission Terms of Reference Draft PDF

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