ENCOURAGING residents to use technology could be a key way of reducing inequality across Oxfordshire, according to the manager of an innovative scheme.

Tony Hart, programme manager for Smart Oxford, told a panel that although the city has the sixth fastest employment growth in the UK, it also has deep pockets of inequality.

He said: “That means very, very high inequality between some of the very poorest in society within a couple of miles from the other extreme.

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“We have all the challenges a large city has but in microcosm.”

Mr Hart, whose organisation is supported by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council, said: “What I’m trying to do is work on ways in which we can use technology, any technology, and it might be anything like a smartphone app – it doesn’t have to be electric vehicles or autonomous vehicles or pollution sensors. It could be a simple application of technology to help with learning.

“As I say, we do have some of the most deprived communities in the whole of the UK; we also have some of the lowest education attainment in the UK.”

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Last summer, figures showed some Oxford men can expect to die 15 years sooner than others across the city.

Those in North Oxford could expect to live until they were 90, according to county council figures, but others in Northfield Brook, on the southern fringe of the city, have a life expectancy below the national average – just 74.6 years.

Mr Hart told a conference at the King’s Centre in Oxford yesterday that another way the city and Oxfordshire could be developed was by taking advantage of world-leading experts here.

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He included an example of augmented reality experts working in the county.

He added that other technology improvements meant that programs could be used to enhance understanding of and using the natural environment, energy reduction and better transport connectivity.

Smart Oxford looks to bring together groups who can ‘develop and promote Oxford as a smart city’.

Another new scheme was launched yesterday. Oxfordshire Greentech, launched at the Said Business School, is a business network which is supporting the growth of companies in the low carbon sector.

Supported by Cherwell District Council, it said it is working for a ‘sustainable, low carbon future in Oxfordshire and the world’.