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Ed Vaizey flags up smart cities ambitions



Digital Economy Minister points to diversity in approaches and highlights export potential

The Government is pressing the cause of smart cities without favouring a specific model for their development, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey has said in a round of flag waving for the various initiatives.

In an article published in Business and Industry UK, he also says that UK companies are well placed to grab a substantial slice of a world market that could be worth up to £1 trillion by 2020.

Vaizey says the move towards devolution, and the fact that local needs are different, has nudged the Government away from developing a specific approach. But it has taken a number of steps to support the moves taken by city authorities.

He highlights the familiar emphasis of the role of the internet of things – the array of electronics, software and sensors with network capabilities – in the development of smart cities. But he adds that data analytics, building information management and intelligent mobility all come into the mix as well.

Pipeline projects

Among the initiatives in the pipeline are the Government Office for Science's Futures of Cities Project, which is looking at the scenarios for UK cities up to 2065, and the Open University's six week online course in smart city concepts.

In addition, the Future Cities Catapult has identified more than 32,000 companies in the UK that are offering smart cities solutions.

“Our Smart Cities can not only learn from each other but also share and sell their expertise,” he says. “So this is a major investment and export opportunity.”

Smart Cities has been identified as a growth sector for exports in the Exporting is Great campaign, and UK Trade and Industry and Innovate UK are planning to lead a Connected Cities Trade Mission to South-East Asia.

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