Scotland’s 8th City – The Smart City.

March 18, 2021

What makes a ‘smart city’ smart? For Scotland’s seven cities – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling – it is the ability to collaborate and openly share information, learning and resources. Founded in 2015, Scotland’s “8th City – The Smart City” Programme is a joined-up approach by the Scottish cities to expand Smart City capabilities, ultimately helping them to become more attractive, liveable, and resilient for citizens and investors. 

With a total investment so far of around £50.1 million, including an ERDF grant of £21.1 million and Cities Investment Fund of £500,000, a programme of data and digital tech-based projects are being developed across Scotland’s cities which are working to improve community engagement, integration of service delivery and innovation. In late February, the Scottish Cities Alliance kicked off its Smart Cities Twitter campaign, to spread the word about some of these exciting projects that are being implemented across our cities.

The 8th City is coordinated by Glasgow City Council with a focus on four main operational areas: Open Data, Smart Communities, Smart Services and Smart Infrastructure. Find out more about each of these below.

Open Data

Open Data platforms were developed during 8th City Phase 1 in Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling, complementing those previously developed by Edinburgh and Glasgow. This investment enables Scottish cities to work collaboratively and publish data sets opened for innovation. In turn, this can allow for cities to address challenges through data-driven decision making, resulting in enhanced outcomes for citizens by generating new insights and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of city services.

Smart Communities

Mobile Working:

Glasgow and Perth are delivering Phase 1 Mobile Working projects, with further Mobile Working projects scheduled as part of Glasgow’s Phase 2 participation. These projects aim to maximise the efficiency of staff working in the field by:

  •    Making better use of technology to create a flexible workforce;
  •    Providing the information they need direct to them in the field; and
  •    Providing real time information back to the back office system.

In delivering Mobile Working solutions, Glasgow and Perth have delivered data-driven efficiencies and service improvements. Other outcomes include up-skilled staff in IT, reduced risk to lone workers, lower operating costs, and more.

Smart Services


The 8th City Smart Energy project was delivered by Stirling and enables data generated from Stirling Council’s energy monitoring assets to be captured on a centrally management platform called The Energy Hub. Using data gathered and generated by the Hub, Stirling Council aims to increase its energy efficiency and in turn, reduce its energy bills. This also leads to further benefits such as a decrease in associated CO² emissions.


Smart Mobility projects are being delivered across the cities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Stirling. These include:

  • Dundee’s MILL (Mobility Innovation Living Lab) – an innovation partnership between Dundee City Council and Urban Foresight. The MILL is developing a range of smart mobility products to reduce environmental impacts of transport and improve access to employment and services, to help create better quality of life for citizens.
  • Inverness’ investment into urban mobility projects which aim to improve transport links, as well as making improvements to the infrastructure within the city itself.
  • The Stirling Movement Information Platform which completed at the end of 2018. This network provides valuable information to city planners and partners seeking to monitor traffic and travel activity. As a result, it has enhanced the city’s journey-time monitoring system and expansion of cyclist monitoring with the addition of pedestrian counters.


Smart Waste projects in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling are helping cities become more resource-efficient, improving waste collection services, reducing transport costs (and carbon emissions) linked to routing and scheduling, and delivering cleaner streets – improving the appearance of cities and increasing customer satisfaction.

Public Safety:

Public Safety projects in Dundee and Perth as part of Phase 1 will form the backbone of a wider approach to public safety across Tayside. The 8th City programme has supported the installation of fibre links between Dundee and Perth as well as the introduction of upgraded facilities and enhanced public safety services in both cities.

In Phase 2 Edinburgh is also developing an integrated City Operations capability to improve the city’s responses to events and incidents, based on real time data flows in the city. This includes an advanced Video Management System (VMS), modern networking mesh for data transmission across the city and high-resolution IP cameras as visual sensors to create a state-of-the-art Video Surveillance System.

Smart Infrastructure

Innovation Lab:

Supported by ERDF, the Innovation Lab project was formally opened at the end of February 2020. It provides 150m² of creative/maker space nested within the newly developed Perth Creative Exchange and aims to make a positive economic, social and cultural impact across the Tay Cities Region. With ongoing revenue support from the Edrington Group the Innovation Lab was rebranded as the Famous Grouse Ideas Centre (FGIC). The FCIG aims to support exceptional business creation, development and growth. This will be achieved through an innovative suite of dedicated support programmes developed by creatives for creatives with an emphasis on innovation.

Intelligent Street Lighting:

Intelligent Street lighting systems have been delivered in Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Perth. These combine LED lamps with a Central Management System, supported by wireless communications networks. ISL infrastructure significantly reduces electricity consumption and wastage of energy, and creates connected networks. Through the 8th City programme, Glasgow and Inverness are taking forward Phase 2 ISL projects to leverage existing lighting infrastructure.

Water Management:

This Glasgow project is pioneering a new digital surface water drainage system to create Europe’s first Smart Canal. Introduction of this new system – on a 250 year old canal – will unlock 110 hectares of land across North Glasgow for investment, regeneration and development, paving the way for over 3000 new homes. The project also delivers CO2 savings of 500T per year by reducing the amount of wastewater requiring to be pumped and treated.

Internet of Things (IoT):

In Inverness, Phase 2 projects include a portfolio of Smart Infrastructure initiatives (dealing with issues such as air quality, buildings management control, smart lighting and water quality) and a Smart Mobility Variable Messaging System (VMS) project linking drivers with ferry service updates.

Having successfully deployed smart infrastructure into Waste collection operations through 8th City funding, Edinburgh will increase the scope and scale of sensor capability in Phase 2 by introducing smart infrastructure into other operations. This extends the range of council services integrating smart technologies and will explore the benefits of scaling up, bringing more efficient daily operations and greater real-time data. This will improve the management of key service areas of vehicle congestion, air quality and flooding.

Overall our Scottish cities continue to pioneer in smart technology and infrastructure, improving upon their offering as attractive long-term locations to live, work and invest. With phase 2 of the 8th City Programme having already taken off, we look forward to seeing how these cities will continue to thrive over the next few years to become more sustainable and efficient through data and tech.

Part 2 of our Smart Cities campaign begins on Monday 22nd March and you can find us on Twitter: @scottishcities.