The majority of cities are still at a relatively early stage of their journey in terms of strategy and realising the benefits, according to new research by SmartCitiesWorld.
Less than a third of cities (31 per cent) say they have an integrated/overarching smart city strategy that looks beyond individual solutions, according to research carried out by SmartCitiesWorld, in association with Interact by Signify.
The Smart cities: Beyond the hype report surveyed city officials and executives from telecommunications companies, system integrators and other suppliers to find out which smart city approaches are proving most successful, which vertical applications are being prioritised and what the challenges are to a truly integrated smart city.
It finds that many cities can be described as being at an inflection or tipping point and the decisions they take next are likely to have a significant impact on their future success.
With the majority of cities lacking an overarching strategy, the report raises concerns about how such an approach might impede the cities’ longer term aspirations. It highlights the importance of breaking down silos and using an open digital architecture so data and commands can be shared across systems.
The lack of integrated approach aligns with the survey findings that the majority of cities are typically responding to specific drivers and challenges and therefore prioritising individual vertical applications. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of cities said they were prioritising city-wide connectivity, followed by transportation/mobility (50 per cent) and lighting (37 per cent). Improving mobility and reducing traffic congestion is the biggest driver of smart cities.
With the majority of cities lacking an overarching strategy, the report raises concerns about how such an approach might impede the cities’ longer term aspirations
Funding was cited as the biggest challenge to taking an integrated approach to smart cities by more than half of respondents, followed by finding the right partners (50 per cent). The research also revealed that two-fifths of cities with experience of private-public partnership working said projects were less successful than they had hoped.
In terms of benefits already being realised is having a city that is rated most highly by 56 per cent of respondents followed by citizens feeling more connected to their city (50 per cent).
While many cities have begun the journey to becoming smart, respondents felt that activity to date is mainly in pockets that address individual issues such as connectivity and mobility. Constantly moving goalposts when it comes to objectives and the huge structural change required are cited as among the major challenges.
With all this in mind, three-quarters of respondents (76 per cent) said no truly smart cities exist yet, although 24 per cent believe there are some in existence.
Those cities singled out as being more advanced with their smart city strategies included Austin, US, Barcelona, Spain, Bristol, UK, Dubai and Singapore.
While no clear definition of a smart city emerged from the research, there was broad agreement that to be truly smart a city must have an overarching infrastructure that integrates various public services and positions citizens at the heart of the vision. So far this is mainly an aspiration rather than a reality but progress is being made.
To read the full report go to: Smart cities: Beyond the hype
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