Ini­tia­tives on our own doorstep bring some hope of solv­ing global prob­lems

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / VOICES - Dave Bald­win Chair­man of Brad­ford Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Burn­ley Foot­ball Club

Watch­ing the big beasts of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics get to­gether in Ar­gentina at the an­nual G20 lead­ers’ sum­mit is a timely re­minder to ev­ery­one that it’s good to talk. As their post-gath­er­ing com­mu­nique spelled out, there are many dif­fi­cult prob­lems fac­ing the world, not least the fu­ture of work, an in­fras­truc­ture for de­vel­op­ment, a sus­tain­able food fu­ture and gen­der equal­ity.

We can’t ex­pect the big play­ers to agree on ev­ery­thing but at least they’re all in the same room for a cou­ple of days, even if they do re­turn to busi­ness as usual as soon as they get home.

An­other in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ing was tak­ing place in In­dia, one with a very strong lo­cal con­nec­tion that highlights the role that one of our city’s finest in­sti­tu­tions is play­ing in tack­ling some of th­ese big global chal­lenges.

The Univer­sity of Brad­ford launched the third an­nual World Tech­nol­ogy Uni­ver­si­ties Congress (WTUC) at Chen­nai, a gath­er­ing of tech­nol­ogy-fo­cused in­sti­tu­tions from Europe, Africa, Aus­tralia, Asia and the Amer­i­cas held for the first time out­side the UK this year.

Hosted at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Madras and the Hin­dus­tan In­sti­tute of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from this grow­ing net­work of uni­ver­si­ties de­bated, dis­cussed and agreed how they can work to­gether on cut­ting edge re­search and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to help de­liver so­lu­tions.

The net­work was cham­pi­oned by Brad­ford’s vice-chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Brian Can­tor, who said: “Higher ed­u­ca­tion, re­search, science and in­no­va­tion are key driv­ers of eco­nomic growth, which de­pends on the pos­i­tive ex­ploita­tion of knowl­edge. “Ed­u­ca­tion trans­forms lives and so­ci­eties, pro­vid­ing the route for tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment and so­cial mo­bil­ity. By har­ness­ing the com­bined strength, re­source, ex­per­tise, ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of a net­work of the world’s great tech­nol­ogy uni­ver­si­ties, we will cre­ate a global al­liance of the bright­est and best, ded­i­cated to mak­ing knowl­edge work for the ben­e­fit of society.”

An ex­am­ple was pro­vided by Pro­fes­sor Anne Gra­ham, as­so­ciate dean in the fac­ulty of life sciences at the Univer­sity of Brad­ford, who spoke at the WTUC. She told del­e­gates about joint re­search pro­grammes in­volv­ing Brad­ford and in­ter­na­tional part­ners which are ad­dress­ing lo­cal chal­lenges with glob­ally scal­able so­lu­tions. Next year’s congress has al­ready been con­firmed and takes place at the Na­tional Tai­wan Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy in Taipei.

As the G20 and WTUC de­mon­strate, it’s good to talk, whether you’re a politi­cian, an aca­demic, in busi­ness or a pub­lic ser­vant. But in the emerg­ing In­ter­net of Things, it is de­vices which are do­ing all the talk­ing. IoT refers to the new net­works be­ing es­tab­lished be­tween con­nected tech­nolo­gies that can gather and share in­for­ma­tion to help in­form and im­prove de­ci­sion mak­ing.

Brad­ford Coun­cil is push­ing the bound­aries in this field. It in­tro­duced a low power, wide area tele­coms net­work in 2017 which has al­lowed a num­ber of ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy pi­lot projects us­ing sen­sors to mea­sure all sorts of dif­fer­ent things. The data is gath­ered, shared and an­a­lysed to help the lo­cal authority to make bet­ter de­ci­sions and al­lo­cate its re­sources more ef­fec­tively.

An­other ex­am­ple of Brad­ford as a Smart City is the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the lo­cal authority and Ex­treme Low En­ergy, a Lan­cashire SME, to re­duce the cost of elec­tric­ity through dis­tri­bu­tion of en­ergy through­out of­fice build­ings via eth­er­net ca­bling.

Nobody’s pre­tend­ing the prob­lems of the world will be easy to over­come. But it’s in­spir­ing to see how ini­tia­tives be­ing de­vel­oped on our dis­trict’s doorstep are of­fer­ing hope that so­lu­tions can and will be found.

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