Smart cities will fail unless they are socially inclusive and focus on people, enabled by transport and powered by technology and data, according to a new report.
Rethinking Smart Futures, by PwC and London Transport Museum in collaboration with Thales and Gowling WLG, emphasises the need to put people above technology in the planning of smart cities and transport networks.
Successful smart cities and regions will be about much more than new technologies, PwC explained. They will also help to address societal issues in areas like work, health, housing and education; promote inclusion and equality; and prioritise transport so that people can move around easily and cost-effectively.
The report draws on five expert roundtable discussions in which industry leaders, policymakers and academics considered the vision of a smart future, and identified the challenges and opportunities facing cities now and in the future.
“We found three key hurdles in developing smart cities: too much choice from an array of innovations; too many cooks with competing interests which can lead to inaction or disconnects; and when it comes to strategies, one size definitely doesn’t fit all cities,” said Grant Klein, transport leader at PwC.
“Our report analyses how to navigate and overcome these roadblocks.”
Elements of the smart city are emerging in cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester, tackling issues such as transport and health, but progress across the UK is still “piecemeal”, Klein added.
“If we are to encourage economic growth and meet the evolving needs of our citizens, we need to step things up a gear and put transport at the heart of every decision.”