Local governments across the UK are lacking the budget, leadership and capability to progress smart city initiatives, according to new research.
The study, commissioned by street lighting specialist Lucy Zodion and conducted by DJS Research, involved 187 councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, revealing that most do not consider smart cities a strategic priority.
There’s a significant gap between those councils leading the way on smart cities and those not yet engaged. The authors of the report warned that the UK risks a three-tiered approach to smart cities delivery, with early-adopters that have secured funding striving ahead, leaving those without resources unable to make progress, and many more yet to grasp the potential benefits.
Reporting on the findings, Lucy Zodion said the study highlighted five major barriers to delivery when it comes to smart city technology: a lack of funding, a lack of internal prioritisation, a lack of evidence, insufficient collaboration, and a general lack of confidence amongst council leaders.
The report also made recommendations on how to optimise a smart city transition. These include the creation of an over-arching strategy to establish leadership and objectives, and engaging citizens to ensure services developed meet the needs of those living and working in the city.
John Fox, managing director of Lucy Zodion, said: “Local authorities hold the key to unlocking the benefits of smart connected cities, yet this research has identified fundamental barriers to a consistent and cost-effective roll-out and significant differences to the approach to smart cities across the country.
“It is evident that we need leadership to make smart cities work: leadership from government to provide a clearer path to delivery and leadership from local authorities to create an over-arching strategy to suit individual cities.
“It is only when councils are able to make smart cities a strategic priority and work together to implement them efficiently, putting the citizen at the centre of their plans, will we be able to realise the potential of our future cities.”