Round-up of thoughts from the panel at our smart cities in Europe: enabling innovation event

Further to our smart cities in Europe: enabling innovation event facilitated by Ken Livingstone on the 27th January, here’s a round-up of some of the key messages from our panel of experienced stakeholders in smart cities development.

•“The smart citizen is the driver for change, or, as it stands at the moment, there is a lack of the smart citizen. There isn’t enough knowledge and incentive for people to move into this field.” Leo Bedford

•“How do we make new ways of thinking work with existing rules and regulations? We need to create a platform to do so.” Roger Hey

•“Cities will grow anyway. How they grow is what really matters. It’s important that those that come together to solve the issues have a common platform and are united around one vision. This will speed up the decision making.” Louise Young

•“There is nothing new about using technology to design infrastructure that works. We’ve taken leaps forward with technology and technology is no longer the barrier. What is needed is for large organisations and governments to get away from silo thinking. The government’s role is as a key enabler, but it can’t be the sole implementer. The government is funding the collaboration that is needed through InnovateUK and the Catapults, and can help to drive smart solutions through its procurement power in paying for infrastructure.” Dan Byles

•“How do we change the market so we have more local energy? The technology is there.” Paul Brodrick

•“Much of the law and regulation in this area is based on a top down mentality that was valid for the industry structure of 20-30 years ago. Today, it’s about how law and regulation is structured going forward. We need to make sure new laws and regulation retain flexibility to enable smart developments and we need to re-examine existing law and regulation and amend it to be appropriate to the emerging structures and models. With some regulation, we need simply to rip it up and start again.” Simon Hobday

•“The main stumbling block for investors is in the lack of consistency in regulation. We need a 10, 20, 30 year outlook. Prove the business case first. We need government intervention to create new business models. The cost of borrowing to the British Government is minimal, we would be mad not to do it!” Leo Bedford

•“Shareholders like a predictable view into the future. We live in uncertain times for infrastructure and energy. Smart cities is an enabler to open up funds.” Roger Hey

•“Not only is it important that the right people are coming together, but also that they set the right targets so that they keep meeting beyond the initial rush of excitement.” Louise Young

•“Demand side response has huge potential. It’s no longer a technology challenge, it’s about business process and we need to make it an economically viable way of doing business.” Roger Hey

•“My advice to politicians is (1) recognise what the city is good at, ie where are your assets and what are the drivers of growth, (2) overcome the challenge of planning v ruining, and (3) acknowledge weaknesses and recognise where you need to put the most effort in.” Louise Young

•“The next smart technology enabler is connectivity / ICT (information and communication technologies) and it’s gathering pace in enabling smart city development.” Paul Brodrick

•“You need to present a robust business plan and make sure the ROI stacks up. There is enough money in the system that they’ll find the funding. Investors are driven by the money making opportunity. The business case is really important. It creates a sustainable business and I mean sustainable in terms of long lasting revenue streams.” Leo Bedford

•“We need to commercialise the outputs of academia. Where you see the clustering of activity, the outputs are the largest. For example around Bristol where the universities and local businesses combine around a digital, creative and electronic cluster to create a significant GDP output for the SW of England.” Louise Young

•“Smart cities are a means to an end, let’s not get wrapped up in the terminology. If you give citizens a more efficient service, they will respond positively.” Dan Byles

•“We’re on the cusp of a massive transformation. There will need to be a reappraisal of structural approaches to many areas, but care should also be taken as to scalability and approach as when projects are small, the fees involved can kill projects off. The challenge with these smaller projects is to come up with models, that once developed are cookie cutters, to allow roll-out without prohibitive fees per transaction.” Simon Hobday

•“We’re likely to see a challenging period post May, a period of instability and weak government. This is unhelpful if we’re looking for stable, long term vision. Smart cities is non-controversial and will survive transition to a new government. We will see cross-Party support.” Dan Byles

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