Despite the widespread investment in smart city initiatives across the UK, 96% of citizens are unaware of any technologies or innovations being implemented by their local council, according to online research conducted by Arqiva and YouGov.
In addition, almost a third of those surveyed think that a connected city will provide a better living environment for residents, whilst nearly a quarter were unclear on any single main benefit of a smart city.
Despite both councils and residents agreeing that traffic congestion is a key priority, smart technology spending on parking, which is a priority for 43% of councils but only supported by 7% of those surveyed.
Arqiva business development director of smart metering Sean Weir said: “There seems to be a dire lack of understanding of the progress and impact being made by the UK’s cities – resulting in almost half of our citizens (48%) feeling that smart cities across the UK are still more than five years away.
“Without the proper support these initiatives will die on their feet, so far greater communication is needed on what exactly is happening and why people should care.
“Many smart city initiatives are only small scale pilot or lab-based experiments and it appears that many cities lack the ability to roll-out large scale smart projects that would truly make a difference to local citizens.”
The research also found that over a third of 18-24 year olds are interested in their city developing smart technologies, with a similar number indicating they would move to an alternative city if it was smarter than their own.
“Councils desperately need to find a way to harness the enthusiasm of the tech-savvy younger generation,” Weir concluded.
“If done correctly, they create powerful advocates to spread awareness – if done wrong, and they risk their city’s economic future.”
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