If you were to ask 20 different people, “What is a Smart City?” you would be likely to get 20 different answers. The term Smart City means many different things to many different people and this can often cause confusion.

‘Smart Cities’ is the buzz-phrase in the media and ‘The Internet of Things’ remains the current hot topic in connectivity. Combined they provide a focus on the “Humble Lamppost” and highlight the critical importance of this asset in ‘Future City’ plans.

But let’s not pretend Smart is a new concept – we haven’t been standing still for the past one-hundred years.

Each city is always looking for ways to evolve and we have always had smart lighting: Gas replaced candles, Electricity replaced gas, SOX replaced filament lamps, SON/CDM replaced SOX, LED replaced discharge lighting and today, controls evolved from lamp-lighter to current generation CMS.

But the Smart City focus should be just that – an evolution not a revolution!

The UK has an existing infrastructure with a wealth of street furniture in situ that can once again be evolved into something so much more for example; a multi functional station that connects people with WiFi / LiFi? A method for paying for a car parking space? A power source to recharge electric vehicles  – the list is endless.

By encouraging councils and cities to take a step back and take stock of what it already has in place, we will be able to evolve our cities much more quickly into the next stage of the Smart evolution.

– John Fox, MD, Lucy Zodion.