“Delivering the Smart City” report, produced by Arup and University College London (UCL), analyses the spending patterns of eight major UK cities to gain an understanding of how much cities are paying for technology, as well as considering whether this expenditure is ‘˜smart’ .
To understand how cities can invest more wisely in technology, the report explores the effective actions taken by eight global cities: Barcelona, Boston, Bristol, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Rio de Janeiro and Stockholm. Seven principles for smart city investment are defined to provide city authorities with key indicators on how to successfully spend, monitor and manage their technology to support their vision.
There is an opportunity to use ubiquitous urban sensing, big data and analytics to better understand the real-time functioning of our cities, as well as inform longer-term planning and policy decisions. Smart grids could enable efficiency within our energy infrastructure and intelligent transport systems may encourage multi-modal low carbon urban mobility. Anywhere-access to information through smartphones and mobile infrastructure could transform the way people use the city, and support the development of new products and services.
But of course, technological capability is only one part of the answer and is interwoven within layers of complexity. City governments are faced with the challenge of exploring the economic return in smart city investment, the business models, the value that it brings to citizens and the role that they should play within an ecosystem of delivery partners and stakeholders. They must decipher funding options, measurement and reporting regimes and the implications for their organisational structure, operational requirements and responsibilities. On top of this, they must understand how these investments align to existing local and national political priorities and strategies. This is not trivial.
Cities must be responsive to the changing context within which they operate- especially when that context is offering significantly improved capability or efficiency, or where the general population is adopting new patterns of behaviour that are no longer served by traditional modes of governance. In that sense investment in smart city capabilities can’ t be left to the leading few cities. This is not about implementing the latest smart grid in Amsterdam or the best control room in Rio. It is about responding with integrity to a changing context.