Many thanks to all those who came along on what felt like the hottest day of the year. Although the weather was lovely it was nice the take refuge in the air conditioned lecture theatre to begin proceedings for the first City Camp Chelmsford.
Philip Wilson kicked things off with a brief overview of what CityCamp Chelmsford hopes to achieve before introducing Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University to the podium. A warm welcome, enthusiastic encouragement and support for City Camp was pledged followed by a 10 minute video which showcased many successes of Anglia Ruskin’s many projects and initiatives in a wide variety of fields.
Next up was Cllr Roger Walters, Deputy Cabinet member for Economic Growth, Waste and Recycling from Essex County Council. Roger spoke about the importance of innovation in local industries giving the example of a local printing firm now developing apps for online versions of magazines alongside the more traditional printing techniques. He commented on the need for continued close partnerships between schools, colleges and universities and employers. “Young people increasingly seem unaware that there are two 7 o’clocks in a day” was a quote which raised a chuckle in the room.
Cllr Neil Gulliver, Cabinet member for Planning & Economic Development with Chelmsford City Council listing many companies historically linked to Chelmsford steeped in innovation history – Hoffmanns, Marconi, E2V and more. He pointed out that Chelmsford’s successful bid for city status this year at only £4,000 was the lowest submitted. His hopes for Chelmsford were innovative developments which are clean, green and offer high value job opportunities. Neil finished by explaining the origins of the Chelmsford Grand Awards and his delight in Chelmsford City Council being able to contribute a special Award for the best ideas created during City Camp Chelmsford.
David Wilde, Chief Information Officer at Essex County Council finished off the presentations by professing his keen interest in technology. 3D printing was used as an example of a new technology which is a hugely exciting innovation which will reduce prototyping and development by weeks and months. David moved swiftly into a panel debate welcoming representatives from Microsoft and Dell to the stage. A lively hour of debate ensued with many questions from the floor for the panel to answer.
Philip Wilson rounded the day up with a brief recap of what’s in store on Saturday with David White describing three brief examples of his experience of participating in CityCamp Brighton.
David spoke of a project called My Urban Angel – a smartphone app to keep young people safe when out in a city centre with features such as GIS live positioning, safe zones where street pastors, doormen and local police officers would be found and a bluetooth panic button which can be programmed to send a text to a friend or relative in case of an emergency. This idea won a £10,000 prize and allowed this app to be developed into a real product. Another idea came from a tour guide called Bert who wanted to explore the use of QR codes to help him provide DIY black history tours of the city. this won £3,000 and is currently in production. Finally, a very simple example of what a City Camp can achieve was given. A local LGBT group came along to the Brighton camp simply to ask for help in understanding social media and setting up their Twitter page. This was achieved ‘on the day’ without the need for any funding or ongoing project. Watch some of these videos to get an idea of what it was like at the Brighton City Camp and here for the complete run down of pitches. CityCamp Brighton run regular meet-ups to catch up on progress of the ideas pitched. Here’s a link to a blog post describing the most recent meet-up which features an update from Bert’s QR code project.
The debate carried on long after the formalities ended with discussions, ideas and connections being made over some nibbles and drinks. All in all a great start to what promises to be a great day on Saturday. Take a look at the photos taken today. Video clips and some audio should be available early next week.