Citizen safety seen as top smart city benefit

The public sector recognises the value of smart city technology but adoption is being held back by cyber security and technology challenges, according to a new study.

Ruckus, part of networking company Brocade, and Atomik Research surveyed 380 European IT decision-makers in the public sector, finding that 78% see a strong business case for investing in smart cities.

The majority of respondents (82%) believe that smart city technologies will help improve citizen safety and reduce crime rates, for example through smart lighting and connected CCTV cameras.

Other areas that are expected to benefit include local health services (81%) and transport (81%), as well as schools (77%), utilities (75%), local facilities (75%) and city hygiene, such as waste collection (65%).

Nick Watson, EMEA vice president at Ruckus, said: “A basic understanding of the benefits to citizens shows that policymakers are aware of the benefits of this technology. As the return on investment becomes clearer and smart cities become more and more commonplace, targeted advocacy will allow organisations to work together to make the city of the future a reality.”

While the benefits are widely recognised, fears around cybersecurity are holding back smart city deployments, with 58% of the IT decision-makers surveyed citing it as a concern.

This is not surprising, given the amount of sensitive data that could be divulged, Watson said. However, a secure, robust and reliable network should address these concerns.

A lack of technology infrastructure, such as a public Wi-Fi network, was also seen as hindering investment. Over three quarters (76%) said they saw public Wi-Fi as the foundation for a smart city. Interference, power supply and backhaul were identified as the three main barriers to installation.

Funding was listed as the third biggest obstacle to mainstream adoption, but the good news is that 78% of respondents expect to have the budget for smart city solutions by 2019.

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