The ‘Year of SMART towns’ is a Welsh Government funded project that aims to enable businesses to plan projects which lead to economic growth as well as helping them make the best use of digital technology. This includes utilising data to help firms better understand their customer base and trends which will support businesses in their future planning and marketing activities.
Richard Howells, owner of The Olive Tree in Mold said: “If we had town-wide data we would be really interested to know how long people are spending in our shop in terms of time. Which car parks are busiest and therefore where the footfall is going to follow past the shop so it has huge applications for a business like ours.”
A smart town is an urban area that uses different types of technologies that can provide valuable data for towns to enable them to make better data-driven decisions. Insights gained can be used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, the data is used to improve the operations and future prosperity across the town.
One of the towns that has taken advantage of this project is Mold. The success for this town started when members of the community attended Menter Môn’s ‘Year of SMART Towns’ workshops. These workshops are used to introduce the concept, help participants prioritise suitable challenges, and identify potential SMART solutions within an action plan.
Joanna Douglass – Business and re generation officer Mold Town Council felt that the action plans are important in “Just getting people and businesses within the town to see how it will work for them. How important this technology is and the data they can get out of it, and how they can use this within their business.”
The SMART Action Plan was used to support a successful funding bid from Flintshire County Council to deploy digital infrastructure in 6 towns to support town regeneration.
Mayor of Mold, Sarah Taylor Councillor said: “ I think information and data is really important to inform decision making within the town. The footfall counters that we’re going to be aquiring through the bid that’s been put forward are going to be instrumental in our planning for the future.”
The SMART Town project hopes that hearing about Mold’s success through the project will encourage other towns and local authorities in Wales to get in touch. This scheme is a pan Wales project, therefore there is an opportunity for anyone to take advantage of the expertise and guidance that is out there.
Niall Waller – Enterprise and Regeneration Manager at Flintshire County Council mentioned that “Flintshire County Council is really excited to be part of the Year of SMART Towns initiative. Mold for us, is going to be the first of the towns on that journey. We’re really keen to roll that out to the other towns and we’ve just been successful in securing Welsh Government funding for the equipent to do that.”