Smart cities: the major barriers in the UK

Smart Cities will be a theme of The 9th International Urban Design Conference to be held at Hyatt Canberra, 7th-8th November 2016

Smart cities: A recent report commissioned by streetlight design and manufacturing company Lucy Zodion has found significant barriers to smart city development in the UK as reported by Cate Lawrence.

The report contains research into the opinions on smart cities of senior contacts from councils across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The in-depth interviews conducted in May and June 2016 gauged the appetite for smart cities among UK councils and opinions on a range of topics, from the biggest obstacles to smart cities to the most pressing priorities for councils.

It was revealed that the task of achieving smarter, more connected cities in the UK lies with local councils. With the National government’s drive for devolution, they are placing the responsibility on the individual council to take the initiative when it comes to improving their city.

Yet growing strains on public services and budgets could negatively affect the ability of all councils to dedicate the resources required to trial technology, progress smart projects, and identify the most cost-effective path to prepare our cities for the future.

The research identified strong evidence for a lack of understanding within councils from the outset; over 80% of the 187 councils did not have an appointed lead for smart cities, and many confessed to a low awareness of the topic and what it could mean for them. Common barriers towards progression were identified, from securing funding and resourcing at a time of budget cuts, to a lack of collaboration between services and departments hindering progress.

Despite the acknowledgement that smarter solutions have the potential to save money or streamline services, many councils less involved in smart cities struggle to siphon budget away from core spending (largely health and social care) and dedicate resources to progress smart cities projects and invest in new initiatives.

Without sustainable funding in place, smart city projects are failing to achieve internal buy-in, according to many councils. Research participants were asked how high a priority smart cities were on their council’s agenda. The overwhelming response was that, faced with budget pressures and shrinking resources, finding internal buy-in to progress with smart initiatives was an uphill struggle for many. To read more click here.

Smart Cities for the 21st Century

Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities will be a theme of The 9th International Urban Design Conference to be held at Hyatt Canberra from 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference.

This years’ Smart cities theme, will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

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