Report suggests “smart cities” need more strategy

report produced by global engineering and design consultancy Arup and research from University College London has been published examining the state of “smart cities”.

The report studied eight UK cities including London and Bristol as well as several international cities such as Barcelona and Hong Kong.

The report “Delivering the Smart City: Governing Cities in the Digital Age” said based upon its sample, UK cities on average use 6% of their expenditure on IT services or technology, which amounts to approximately £23 million per city across the study.

This figure was well received  by Dr. Ellie Cosgrave, a research associate on the report from UCL, who commented “our research shows that cities are comparatively ahead of the curve in viewing IT as an essential part of their annual expenditure”.

However, the report argued that UK cities do not have effective governance structures in place to regulate expenditure and to ensure that it is targeted correctly in an overall “smart” spending policy.

The report stressed that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to creating an effective digital city and that the onus is upon individual governments to tailor specific programmes for different cities.

But whilst approaches and methods differ, the report highlighted seven key principles stages of thought that ensure smart city investment is worthwhile: “clarify the opportunity, take ownership, engage, prepare, act, check and reflect, repeat and share learning”.

Lean Doody, Smart Cities Lead Consultant at Arup, said that a better understanding of how best to implement a smart city programmes is required.

Rather than adding to the city’s existing technology expenditure, smart technology can enable cities to get more value from their IT investment” and added “smart city initiatives need to be about more than creating a few apps or a city information portal”.

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