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'City operating system' controls environment with sensor matrix

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London's Greenwich Peninsula will become the testbed for new software promising to create the smart city of the future.

The experiment, backed by science minister David Willetts, teams up tech houses Hitachi Consulting, Philips and McLaren Electronic Systems with Living PlanIT to work on the latter's Urban Operating System.

"The area of smart and future cities is an area of growing importance globally, with the market for integrated city systems estimated to be £200bn a year by 2030," Willetts said in a canned statement. "The UK has the strength to exploit this market with world-leading companies in project management, engineering, architecture, energy and transport systems, communications, finance, legal and insurance and the digital economy."

The Urban Operating System connects key services such as water, transport and energy, and is one of those huge pieces of software that you pray Skynet - the terrifying human-slaying robot overlord in the Terminator saga - will never get its hands on.

Greenwich is one of the many areas of Blighty's capital earmarked for regeneration; new homes and offices are being built on the peninsula and a cable car is due to be opened in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The construction work gives the tech partners the opportunity to get some gear built into the bricks and mortar. For example, one office block will have thousands of sensors to monitor things inside and outside in order to have smart lighting and heating systems, the BBC reported.

Living PlanIT also plans to test smart lampposts on the roads and smart vests that have micro sensors attached to monitor heart rates and other vital signs. The outfit estimates that £13trn will be spent in developing and regenerating urban spaces between now and 2020. ®

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