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PwC outlines a vision for smart cities built around people, not tech

Failure to do so could lead to divided and socially exclusive communities across the UK, says a new report

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It’s vital that cities take ownership of what the smart future should look like for them
It’s vital that cities take ownership of what the smart future should look like for them

People not technology must be positioned at the heart of smart city planning and transport networks or the UK will risk creating divided and socially exclusive communities across the country.

 

This is the verdict of a new report by PwC and London Transport Museum in collaboration with international law firm Gowling WLG and the global transport and security company Thales.

 

New vision for smart cities

 

Rethinking Smart Futures outlines a new vision for smart cities that are socially inclusive and focused on people, enabled by transport and powered by technology and data. The report identifies the challenges to achieving this vision and calls for central and local government, the public sector, and private industries to join forces to take forward key recommendations.

 

These include:


• Defining a shared vision for the UK’s smart future and re-defining measures for success
• Creating trusted and regulated processes and networks for data-sharing that are resilient to cyber-attacks
• Establishing a new, regulated national transport framework for public-private procurement and investment in innovation and technology
• Collaboration between central and local government with the private sector to invest in and fund local schemes that support ‘blue-sky’ innovation.

 

“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.

"It’s vital that cities take ownership of what the smart future should look like for them, how to ensure integration between services, and how it will improve citizens’ lives”

He added: “Our report analyses how to navigate and overcome these roadblocks. There are elements of the ‘smart city’ emerging across the UK, tackling issues such as transport, health and data in cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester. But progress overall is still piecemeal across the UK.

 

“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.”

 

Thought-leadership programme

 

Rethinking Smart Futures draws on five expert roundtable discussions that took place with industry leaders, policy makers and academics throughout 2018 as part of Interchange, London Transport Museum’s thought-leadership programme.

 

The report urges cities to set out what the future will be like in each location because every place has its own unique “challenges and traits”. “So it’s vital that cities take ownership of what the smart future should look like for them, how to ensure integration between services, and how it will improve citizens’ lives”, says the report.

 

Smart cities require the creation of a data-rich environment but this starts with reaching agreement on the principles of data-sharing, which in turn can enable the creation of protocols specifying how data will be accessed and exchanged, says the report: “For this to work, there will inevitably need to be a trusted third-party who can act as a guardian of the data; they may not hold all the data, but they would need to be the ‘broker of trust’ and be on point to ensure the rules are applied consistently.

“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”

“The rules need to define what information will be shared, how and with whom, and what protections are in place. However, demonstrating the value that sharing creates for organisations and citizens is also critical – as is clearly allocating responsibility and accountability for data."

 

Sam Mullins, director, London Transport Museum said that often, the pursuit of new technologies has been the driving force behind our move toward a smarter future: “But if the advancement of technology remains an end in itself and is not motivated by meeting the needs of people, then we risk creating smart cities and transport networks which result in communities across the UK becoming divided and socially exclusive.

 

"Bringing together perspectives from industry leaders, policy makers and academics, our latest Interchange report looks towards a smart future for the UK that is focused on people.”

 

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