The way we use and live in cites is changing across the world, as urban populations grow and as technology enables us to create smarter,more connected solutons. The UK has commited itself to a path toward smarter cites, pinpointng it as an essental element of our digital economy and allocating funding to kick-start the roll-out of new initatives and trial new technology.
In April 2016 we commissioned public sector experts DJS Research to conduct interviews with senior management from councils across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The research explored the level of awareness around smart cites, progress to date in each council, and where they best felt smarter solutons would improve city services. An over view of the findings can be found below:
The responsibility for making the transiton to more connected cites lies at local government level. Cites will be responsible for identfying the right smart initatves and technological solutons required to transform their services and improve the way the city works for residents, businesses and local communites. Despite this remit, the pace of change varies greatly across the country.
This report summarises the ﬁndings of research into the opinions on smart cites of senior contacts from councils across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, conducted by DJS Research on behalf of Lucy Zodion. The in-depth interviews conducted in May and June 2016 gauged the appette for smart cites among UK councils and opinions on a range of topics, from the biggest obstacles to smart cites to the most pressing priorites for councils.
The research identﬁed strong evidence for a lack of understanding within councils from the outset; over 80% of the 187 councils did not have an appointed lead for smart cites, and many confessed to a low awareness of the topic and what it could mean for them. Common barriers towards progression were identﬁed, from securing funding and resourcing at a tme of budget cuts, to a lack of collaboraton between services and departments hindering progress.
The report identﬁes six key stages that councils appear to pass through on their journey towards becoming a smarter, more connected city. Yet the gap between those councils leading the way and those yet to understand the potental is signiﬁcant, risking a three-tered approach to the UK’s smart city roll-out.
Those enlightened councils with funding secured and projects underway are striving ahead of others aware of the potental beneﬁts but struggling to gather the resource required to make progress. The remaining councils – seemingly the majority – appear less engaged, either unaware of the potental beneﬁts or too focused on making budgets balance.
It is apparent that unless signiﬁcant changes are made, we will contnue to see inconsistent approaches to smart cites from councils across the UK. The report identﬁes recommendatons to optmise a smart city transiton, from the creaton of an over-arching strategy to establish leadership and objectves to engaging citzens to ensure services developed meet the needs of those living and working in the city.
Whilst there are practcal steps that councils can take to build and optmise a smart city plan, the report identﬁes some fundamental barriers to a consistent and cost-eﬀectve roll-out across the country. It is only when councils are able to make smart cites a strategic priority and work together to implement them eﬃciently, putng the citzen at the centre of their plans, will we be able to realise the potental of our future cites.
This in-depth report explores smart city readiness and identifies the key stages of enlightenment required before city leaders are able to implement smart city intiatives and the measures required to overcome barriers preventing progression to the next stage. The whole report is available via the form below.