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Six in 10 ‘interested’ in being a smart city resident

Citizens overwhelmingly rank public safety as their top smart city priority, followed by quality of life

Citizens living in larger cities placed a higher priority on smart transportation
Citizens living in larger cities placed a higher priority on smart transportation

Six in ten Americans say they would be interested in being a smart city resident even though they admit limited knowledge about what that entails. They also have concerns about trade-offs in government services, according to a new study by the technology association, CompTIA.


Building Smarter Cities and Communities surveyed 1,000 US households and 350 US government officials on their awareness and interest in the concept of smart communities. The report also examines what it will take to move beyond pilots, tests and trials to full-scale systems that deliver benefits to both the municipality and its citizens.


Four factors that will shape the future direction of smart cities were identified:

  • Elevating the understanding of smart city concepts will take time, but "bridge technologies" – smart technologies for the home and office – can help
  • Making the leap from digital to smart requires advancements on many fronts, from technology and broadband infrastructures to workflow and user experience
  • Data is critical to smart city success, and one of the most challenging components to get right
  • Ensuring smart cities are cyber-safe will require resources and a commitment to shared responsibilities for cyber security.

"In concept and theory, smart city solutions can streamline the delivery of government services, improve transportation options, optimise resource management, and deliver other outcomes that make the quality of living better," said Tim Herbert, senior vice president, research and market intelligence, CompTIA.


"But significant practical obstacles remain – funding, privacy and technology integration," Herbert continued. "Those factors and others make it likely that the move to smart communities will happen in measured steps, not great leaps."


Citizens overwhelmingly rank public safety as their top priority for smart cities, followed by quality of life. But as use cases are presented individually, priorities become less clear and more expansive, with more emphasis on quality of life, infrastructure and transportation.


The survey reveals key differences when evaluating data at the city-size level. Citizens in large cities place a higher priority on smart transportation than their counterparts in smaller towns and rural areas. Smaller communities indicate a greater interest in enhanced e-government services, smart water management systems and smart grids and energy management.


"One of the important outcomes to watch is whether smart cities initiatives widen or narrow the technology gap that exists between urban and rural America," Herbert noted.


Concerns over funding and competing budget priorities lead the list of citizens’ concerns about smart city solutions. Worries about cybersecurity and privacy ranked as the second biggest concern, followed by the reliability of the technology.


When presented with several financial trade-off scenarios to make smart cities happen, survey respondents were mixed in their views. Nearly 40 per cent say they’d be willing to shift budget from government staff raises to a smart city initiative. Asked if they would forgo new police or fire vehicles in favour of a smart city project, 27 per cent responded in the affirmative.


Opinions on trade-offs varied by household income level. For example, 46 per-cent of respondents with household incomes above $100,000 say they’d probably support shifting money earmarked for publicly-funded art to a smart city project. Just 30 per cent of individuals from households with less than $100,000 in annual income said they’d be willing to do so.


Earlier this week, a Smart Cities Consumer Research study found that three quarters of US citizens reckon smart city technology will have a positive impact on their lives with another two thirds (65 per cent) expressing interest in living with smart city technology. The study was conducted in partnership with Silver Spring Networks, Power Over Energy, and the US Department of Energy.


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