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Government must form coherent smart city strategy



"Lack of direction" highlighted as barrier to collaboration between cities according to All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities chair.

Government must form a coherent smart city strategy to ensure a joined up approach between businesses and local government as well as across departments, according to a report.

The recommendations were published by The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smart Cities, following its inquiry into the benefits of a UK strategy on smart cities.

‘Intelligent leadership, how government strategy can unlock the potential of smart cities in the UK’ sets out what government can do to support the role of smart cities in solving urban issues.

In the report, group chair Iain Stewart MP says that: “a coherent strategy from central government is needed to ensure a joined up approach between businesses and those who work most closely with and on behalf of their citizens – local government.

"By fully embracing the smart cities approach, central government can empower local authorities to show ordinary people how ‘smart’ can positively impact on their everyday lives."

Cultural barriers

The group highlights a number of cultural barriers holding government back from unlocking  the full potential of smart technologies.

"Current barriers include a lack of direction from central government, which has an important role to play in convening smart standards and data," Stewart told UKAuthority.

"While government should not prescribe one size fits all solutions to local authorities and businesses which may operate in very different contexts, it does have a role to play in bringing together key information and guidelines so that the public and private sectors can make informed decisions about selecting and implementing smart solutions."

Stewart said solutions could include a central library of key data, such as case studies of best and worst practice, and robust economic analysis, including data on the return on investment of smart city patents. It also has a role to play in developing and promoting awareness of smart cities standards and guidelines."

The report highlights that becoming a smart city should not be seen as an extra burden forced upon authorities, but is instead a way to become more efficient, offer better services and deliver better outcomes.

"Local government needs to encourage a culture whereby the smart city approach is central to the way departments work," Stewart said. "Government should encourage and support local authorities and combined authorities to appoint a chief information or digital officer."

Departmental interoperability

The report also calls for collaboration between government departments. It says that the group recognises that the benefits of smart technology often span departments, and proposes an holistic way of measuring benefits, "so siloed thinking does not prevent improvements to local life".

As such, it suggests the introduction of return on investment models which measure the benefits across government and not just within single departments. This would also better demonstrate smart technology benefits to treasury members at central and local government levels, according to the report.

Another suggestion is to appoint a new, cross-departmental minister with responsibility for "driving forward the government’s convening role".

The group’s inquiry was based on 32 responses from local government, universities, SMEs, large businesses, trade associations and non-profits across a range of sectors in response to a call for evidence.

The APPG on Smart Cities is made up of parliamentarians, academics, NGOs, businesses and representatives from local government. 


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