Traffic problems seen as key priority for smart city spending

City residents think that traffic congestion is the number one issue that should be tackled through ‘smart city’ initiatives, new research has revealed.

A survey by communications firm Arqiva and YouGov showed that relieving congestion and optimising traffic flow on city streets was the issue was most commonly identified as a problem and as a smart technology spending priority.

Parking was seen as the second biggest issue, although surprisingly a much smaller proportion of respondents felt that this was a priority for smart spending.

Overall, despite the increasing investment in smart city initiatives across the UK, the survey found that 96% of British people are unaware of any smart city initiatives being run by their local city council in the last year.

The findings suggest that local authorities need to do more to communicate with residents about the smart city projects they are undertaking and what positive changes they will bring.

Sean Weir, business development director of smart metering and M2M at Arqiva, said:

There seems to be a dire lack of understanding of the progress and impact being made by the UK’s cities — resulting in almost half of our citizens (48%) feeling that smart cities across the UK are still more than five years away.

Without the proper support these initiatives will die on their feet, so far greater communication is needed on what exactly is happening and why people should care.

Less than a third of the 2,070 adults surveyed thought that the greatest benefit of a connected city would be a better living environment for residents, while nearly one in four were unsure about the potential benefits of such projects.

Highlighting the enthusiasm of the tech-savvy younger generation for smart city technology, Weir said that councils need to find a way to harness this enthusiasm, creating powerful advocates to spread awareness.

A recent survey by Osborne Clarke and The Lawyer Research Service shows that the aspect of smart cities most likely to improve citizen well-being is intelligent transport systems .A wide range of intelligent transport systems has been implemented across Europe, from the central London congestion charging zone and Oyster cards in the UK, to smart parking networks in Barcelona and smart cycling networks in Copenhagen. However, a lack of funding and technology standards have hindered the more widespread roll-out of intelligent transport systems throughout Europe.

Click here to download the full report Smart cities in Europe: enabling innovation.

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts