07 December 2018

Only a quarter of councils are implementing a smart city strategy

Virtually all local authorities are aware of the concept of Smart City/Smart Placebut only just over a quarter have a strategy actively underway, a third are developing one and over a third have no plans according to a survey of council directors by The MJ and BT.

The top priority areas for the application of Smart City are technical services like traffic management, street lighting and energy along with community safety and measures to help independent living for the elderly.

A Smart City is one that uses the latest technology and broadband for such initiatives as sensors, connected devices and real time analytics to solve its challenges, and plan a better environment for the future. An ideal Smart City has been described as one where every person can access real-time parking information, where urban parks offer free wi-fi and where rubbish collectors know when recycling bins are full.

An overwhelming 91% of respondents to The MJ/BT survey say they are familiar with the concept of Smart City/Smart Place but 36% admit they do nothave such a programme in their local authority area. However 27% say they do have a strategy and a further 36% say it is ‘under development’ meaning almost two thirds have some form of Smart City programme either underway or being planned .

Three quarters of respondents who have a Smart City strategy say it is led by the local authority and a quarter say it is a joint venture with the private sector.

An overwhelming 90% say it is part of a wider digital transformation strategy. Even among those 27% who do not have a strategy, 80% are considering one. Of the 20% who are not, half say it is down to lack of funds, and a quarter say it is down to a lack of a private sector partner.

For those who do have a Smart City strategy, traffic management is the service most respondents prioritise followed in descending order by environmental energy, social services and leisure.

Respondents were asked for more detail within these six service areas. For traffic and transport respondents named congestion management, parking, passenger timetable information and passenger and staff safety as services most likely to be smart-enabled. For environmental services it is air quality, flood management, waste management/flytipping, then the state of roads and paths.

Within community safety the top areas cited by respondents as being most eligible for being smartenabled are anti-social behaviour, security in open spaces, safety for lone workers and counter-terrorism. For energy priority areas named were vehicle charging, smart lighting, power supply management and metering. For leisure respondents named internet access, mobility/cycle schemes, demographic analysis (for pinpointing customer usage) and parks management while in social services it is services to help the elderly live independently in their homes such as monitors for assisted living, personal location monitors and also safety for lone carers.

Respondents were asked to name those service areas where they felt the greatest savings might be made through a Smart City programme. The most popular answers were traffic congestion management, independent living for the elderly (such as the provision of monitors), smarter lighting and measures to reduce anti-social behaviour.

KEY FINDINGS:

• 91% of respondents are familiar with the Smart City concept
• 36% have a Smart City strategy
• 75% say their strategy is led by the council
• 89% say it is part of a wider digital transformation strategy
• Traffic and transport are the key priority areas for Smart City

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