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Latest research also reveals that a fifth of people had never heard the term before and 10 per cent either found the concept of smart cities confusing or didn’t know what it meant.
More than half of the UK population (55 per cent) don’t know what a smart city is despite at least 18 cities across the UK already having rolled out smart technology, according to research.
Even though this indicates awareness is low, the research, published in a report into public perception of smart cities by video management solution provider Milestone Systems, suggests that citizens are largely positive towards the growing prevalence of smart city technology.
Smart cities: measuring public perception surveyed 2,000 Britons to assess the general public’s understanding of, and attitudes towards, smart city technology, as well as their dissatisfactions with the UK’s urban centres.
When asked if they understand what is meant by “smart city”, just 18 per cent of people said that they are very familiar with the concept, while 28 per cent said that they have “a rough understanding”.
A fifth of people had never heard the term before, a quarter said they weren’t sure, and 10 per cent either found the concept of smart cities confusing or had heard the term but didn’t know what it meant.
Around a quarter (24 per cent) of people said that they were “very excited” about future smart city developments, and a third (32 per cent) said that they believe it’ll be a good thing.
Only 13 per cent of people were actively against further implementation of smart city technology, but a fifth said that they don’t know enough about the concept to know how they feel. Half of people would like to hear about smart city technologies before they are implemented and three-fifths (61 per cent) of people do not feel informed about smart city developments, but would like to be.
Other key findings include:
“The UK has been one of the earliest adopters of smart city technology and is recognised as a global pioneer, with London, Manchester and Newcastle all ranked within the top 25 smart cities in the world in 2020. Yet the majority of the public are seemingly unaware of this progress,” said Malou Toft, EMEA vice president, Milestone Systems.
“While this hasn’t caused any problems yet, we can see from the recent protests against the roll-out of low-traffic neighbourhoods that buy-in from the general public is essential to the successful evolution of urban areas. Communicating the benefits of smart technology over the coming years will help to maintain the current positive feeling towards smarter cities, and ensure there is no backlash to further digital transformation.”
The youngest age groups were the most likely to say that they were very familiar with the term smart city, with 27 per cent of 18-34 year-olds giving this response. These numbers dramatically decreased with age, with only six per cent of 55-64-year-olds and two per cent of those over the age of 65 confident that they understand what a smart city means.
“The UK has been one of the earliest adopters of smart city technology. Yet the majority of the public are seemingly unaware of this progress”
Malou said that more unexpectedly, the data also shows a marked difference between men and women: 21 per cent of men said that they were very familiar with the smart cities concept, compared with 15 per cent of women, while 23 per cent of women had never heard the term before, compared with 15 per cent of men.
The groups with the best understanding were most likely to be “very excited” about the prospect of smarter cities, and also no more likely to be opposed to the idea than the average, suggesting that greater knowledge and understanding of smart city technology typically leads to more positive feeling rather than negative.
Malou added: “While we might have expected the older generations to be less informed on the subject, it is startling to note the differences between the responses from men and women. While certain demographics may be less likely to naturally encounter information about smart city technology, they will be equally as affected by the tech as it becomes more widely implemented.
“It’s clear that more needs to be done to reach these groups and give them the opportunity to take an interest in the exciting ways in which their cities are evolving.”
The report can be downloaded here.