Siemens helps university digitally transform

  • September 27, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Siemens is helping the University of Birmingham digitally transform two of its campuses in the UK and UAE.

The project is combining digital sensor and analytics technologies, artificial intelligence, decentralised energy generation and storage, renewable energy, and concepts that help change users’ behaviour to transform the university’s Edgbaston and Dubai campuses.

The aim is to create a living lab where research, teaching and learning all benefit from access to new data and connectivity.

The lab will capture data from the university’s building technologies, estates infrastructure and energy plants and use it for innovation, R&D activities and teaching. Scrutinising energy demand and production – from systems to individual consumers and producers (prosumers) – with live data from across the sites provides an opportunity for applied learning for students and creates a platform for research.

Siemens will sponsor a team of PhD studentships at the university based in the UK and Dubai. Their research projects will be co-designed by Siemens and the university to address important challenges in data, technology, urban systems and the net zero goal.

This year, it says it will become the first university in the world to roll out IoT technology at scale. Starting in autumn 2021, the first phase of this major energy efficiency project will include the roll out of 23,000 IoT sensors across the university estate. 

“As one of the largest universities in the UK – with a global community of more than 38,000 students – the university is already an energy prosumer and these technologies will be further optimised in the system we are now working on together,” said Matthias Rebellius, managing board member of Siemens. “Partnerships like this are extremely important for gathering new insights, testing and developing new technologies, and creating efficient and sustainable energy infrastructure. The university’s campus in Dubai will be a global example of sustainability at the rescheduled Dubai Expo 2020.”

Tim Jones, provost and vice-principal of the University of Birmingham, explained the university’s ambitious vision: “Our goal is to deliver the campus of the future, using cutting-edge technologies to make our campuses in Edgbaston and Dubai the smartest globally. This will enhance our student experience, create new research and innovation opportunities, while significantly reducing our carbon footprint. As we approach COP26 in Glasgow this autumn, it is clear we are into the decade of delivery for net-zero targets. University-industry strategic partnerships, such as ours with Siemens, are important for helping to identify pathways for turning targets into reality.”

In addition, Siemens will deliver a ten-year bureau for energy and IoT services to ensure the university reaps the potential of both the technology and industry expertise. The university has already made significant progress in making its operations more sustainable, including achieving its 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions by a fifth. It is constantly looking to improve the environmental performance of its buildings including a reduction of 2856 tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to five per cent of the university’s current emissions.

Earlier this year, the university signed up to the United Nations Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative – as part of its commitment to reducing its environmental footprint and increasing the impact of its research. The university is also a participant in the COP26 Universities Network and will have a presence at the COP26 conference in November.

The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions, and its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6500 international students from nearly 150 countries.