A majority of people in Britain have never heard of “smart cities” and are unaware of how city-wide technologies could improve quality of life in urban areas.
New research by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has revealed that, despite considerable investment by the UK Government, local authorities and businesses, only 18% of the British public has heard of a “smart city”.
The IET argued that people and their needs and wishes are the most important considerations when it comes to taking UK cities forward. It said that the adoption of new, city-wide technologies has traditionally involved little consultation with consumers. As a result, the public has yet to buy into the idea of smart cities — and be convinced of the value and benefits that smart city technology could bring to their daily lives.
When respondents were asked for their views on five specific smart city technologies and how useful they might be in their local area, the results showed a lack of any clear consensus, the IET said:29% of respondents felt that ‘intelligent’ streetlights activated by movement to improve safety, deter crime and save energy would be most useful.25% were most interested in buildings that generate their own energy and collect and recycle water and waste.23% thought the most useful innovation would be sensors embedded in roads and buildings which measure traffic flows, predict congestion, and adjust traffic lights and signals.15% said they would particularly like to receive up-to-the-minute travel information via smartphone, enabling them to plan and pay for journeys using different types of transport.8% saw most value in being able to order driverless or electric transport from their smartphone.
The report also identified smart city projects in Glasgow, Peterborough, Bristol and London which it said have successfully taken a people-centred approach and show how technology can improve quality of life for residents, workers and visitors.
“Promoting ‘lessons learned’ from pilots like those in Glasgow, Peterborough, Bristol and London will help inspire, inform and influence more local authorities and communities about how technologies can improve the quality of the daily lives of their citizens,” said Alan Howard, IET head of Thought Leadership.
“It’s also important that public authorities, businesses and service providers understand the innovations and issues that people want to see in smart cities and communities — and put greater emphasis on the human and societal outcomes of their initiatives.
“Putting people first, rather than technology, is essential if we are to improve quality of life and create liveable, connected and sustainable cities and communities in which to live, work and invest. Without this, we risk developing technology-enabled cities and communities that people neither recognise or value.”