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London and Bristol top Smart Cities Index

18/05/16

Huawei backed survey places pair at top with ‘contender’ status for Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Milton Keynes

London and Bristol have come out top of the rankings for the factors which make a smart city, according to research commissioned by ICT solutions company Huawei.

It has published its first Smart Cities Index, drawing on work carried out by Navigant Consulting, showing the two cities lead the UK in using digital technology for improving services.

Smart_City_report_cover_detailThe index ranks the pair as leaders while giving four other cities – Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Milton Keynes – ‘contender’ status. London came out with an overall score of 80.5, marginally in front of Bristol’s 80.2, while the other four had rankings in the low to mid 70s.

Leeds also scored just above 70, followed closely by Peterborough, while Nottingham and Sheffield had considerably lower marks.

While the responsibilities of the Greater London Authority for service delivery are limited – most are delivered by the 33 boroughs in the capital – the report highlights its record in a number of urban innovations. These include the congestion charge and other carbon-reducing transport programmes, and its strong commitment to open data with the creation of the London Datastore.

Bristol is praised for its Bristol is Open project in creating a laboratory for urban innovation, and for its efforts in energy programmes and community engagement.

Stand outs

Other notable programmes include Birmingham’s plans to make East Birmingham a testbed for smart technology; Manchester’s new Internet of Things (IoT) City Demonstrator; Glasgow’s range of projects developed as part of Future Cities Demonstrator programme; and Milton Keynes’ MK:Smart collaboration on IoT projects with the Open University and other partners.

The Index highlights five themes that are common across the most successful smart city programmes. They take in the importance of leadership and vision; a need to focus on local priorities and strengths; the importance of engagement with local communities; building local partnerships; and understanding the way in which the data revolution can improve services and boost innovation.

Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Consulting, who led the study, said: “London and Bristol stand out from the crowd for combining technical innovation with a broader strategy for city development. But there are a number of cities close behind them with strong smart city programmes.

“The message from our research is that more city leaders need to embed the idea of smart capabilities into their urban projects. Cities and central government also need to work together to ensure successful pilot projects are turned into scalable projects that benefit all citizens.”

The report’s key messages for city leaders include engaging with communities, building partnership, focusing on local priorities and strengths, and understanding the new potential in the use of data. The latter is growing with the use of sensors and intelligent devices, and the report recommends the building of open data platforms, and using the new data in formulating policy.

Image from Huawei, detail of report cover

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