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Government launches Smart Cities Forum - to promote a $40 billion opportunity for the UK

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has announced it will establish a Smart Cities Forum, chaired by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts and Cities Minister Greg Clark, plus representatives from cities, business, and scientists, to help ensure the UK does not miss out on the opportunities offered by smart cities.

BIS also published a Smart Cities background paper that considers the challenges which cities face, the role which Smart City concepts play, the opportunities for business and the role of Government in strengthening UK capability and helping firms to exploit their expertise in global markets.

As stated in the paper, the Smart Cities Forum will advise Ministers on policies to place UK cities and business at the forefront of developments. 

"BIS will provide the Secretariat and establish a Whitehall network of interest, comprising representatives from Departments with a major interest in smart systems, to strengthen co-ordination of policy in this area."

"It will ensure all Departments share ideas and proposals for developing smart pilots and demonstrators in order, where possible, to develop synergies, and provide all stakeholders with an overview of developments. As a first step, officials will develop a map/matrix of smart pilots and demonstrators, and publish it on The Secretariat will act as a single point of contact in Whitehall, liaising with cities on developments and co-ordinating UK policy in relation to EU activities and policy. It will also act as a source of expertise, supporting UK cities in their attempts to develop smarter approaches by keeping abreast of international developments."

The report features TSB investments in Smart Cities such as working since 2008 with Department of Health in developing assisted living technologies and, more recently, in deploying these technologies in the Whole System Demonstrator and DALLAS (Digital Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale). "Its Knowledge Transfer Networks have also focussed on smart applications of technology for transport and energy and it has recently announced Catapults in relation to Transport Systems and the Connected Digital Economy, which will contribute significantly to UK capability in this field."

The paper also refers to the TSB strategy that focusses on the need for cities and business to move from optimising performance, within the individual elements or service systems, to the more integrated and systemic approach. It has launched two initiatives to support UK businesses to innovate the products and services required to meet the needs of cities: a Future Cities Demonstrator Programme and a Future Cities Catapult.

Coinciding with the announcement on 9 October, BIS released two reports on Smart Cities commissioned from Arup; one on UK capabilities and the second on market opportunities, projected in the UK to be a $40Bn market by 2020.

BIS also highlighted example programmes in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.


Arup UK Capabilities Report

The report ‘Global Market Opportunities and UK Capabilities for future smart cities’ highlights what is described as best practice assessed from case studies worldwide for enabling 'technology to transform lives and provide a 'huge' economic boost'.

The report defines a smart city as one that uses intelligent technology to enhance the quality of life (of its citizens) in urban environments. The study found the cities using data to save money, minimise waste, measure domestic water usage and manage transport routes.

Features of a 'smart city' included allowing the public access to real time information to enable people to make informed choices, such as planning a journey by checking for available room on trains and buses or even identifying car parking spaces before leaving the house.

The six cities were studied - Chicago, Boston, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, Barcelona and Hong Kong - addressing specific challenges,and adapted their organisations to deliver digital services.

The study claimed to identify common themes for adopting smart approaches to city management:

  • Strong leadership with a mandate for action;
  • Mechanisms for managing risk, while still leaving room for higher risk/higher return innovations;
  • Cross departmental support - placing a smart city vision in a 'horizontal' department, such as a Mayor's Office;
  • A procurement policy that doesn't discriminate against SMEs;
  • Eating their own dog food - representing the needs of users by being a user of the data;
  • Use of data analytics;
  • Non-adopters of technology not left behind.

Smart Cities - the financial opportunities

The report The Smart City Market: Opportunities for the UK, also produced by Arup, provides a view of future potential financial opportunities, projecting a value of the 'smart cities industry' of more than $400 billion globally by 2020, of which the UK could gain 10%.

The report assessed smart solutions in five 'verticals': water, waste, energy, transport and assisted living.

  • Four hundred and eight billion dollar market - the estimated global market for smart city solutions and the additional services required to deploy them to be $408 billion by 2020. Pike Research estimates a global market for smart transport, for instance solutions based on digital infrastructure, to be $4.5 billion by 2018, with a wider market of $100 billion by 2018 including the physical and digital infrastructure for parking management and guidance, smart ticketing and traffic management. Included in this $100 billion are the traditional and new services such as heavy engineering, road design and big data analytics required as a result of investment in digital smart transport solutions.
  • Smart solutions across the verticals optimise resources through better information on where resources are being consumed.
  • 'Smart Cities' and 'Future city solutions' aren't the same - future city solutions are physical projects which are often but not exclusively associated with low carbon economies. Smart city solutions apply digital technologies to address social, environmental and economic goals. Smart city solutions can combine physical and digital infrastructure or can be based on digital infrastructure alone. This confusion is cited as a barrier to growth of this market as confused customers find it difficult to justify investment.
  • Smart city solutions are disruptive technologies which require system wide deployment to yield the most benefits, and successful deployment will require collaboration between multiple actors.
  • There's a reluctance to deploy untested but innovative products and services in the UK.
  • The UK has particular strengths in design, research, finance, and engineering services which could account for up 25% of the total smart cities market.

The report concludes there is great potential for UK business in this growing market.

In the verticals, it recommends the government should remove barriers to innovation and facilitate collaboration between multiple diverse 'actors'. This has already begun to happen in the Assisted Living and Transport verticals, but, the report suggests, more needs to be done.

The report also suggests that cities and government take a cross-sectoral approach. Cities are starting to look at smart city solutions as part of a more integrated approach to information technology and data, plus are looking to smart solutions and open data to address wider economic and social challenges.

A cross-sectoral approach, it is claimed, leads to additional opportunities for cities and citizens, and should also yield additional opportunities for UK industry.

The report says the Future Cities Catapult and Demonstrator have succeeded in drawing local authorities’ attention to the potential to use technology to address city challenges, but barriers including funding and leadership remain.

Across the five sectors, Arup recommends:

  • The TSB’s Future Cities Catapult should have a role in coordinating a common vision for the sector which could be a platform for growth.
  • Cities should help to develop capability in leading and facilitating collaboration with industry, academia and citizens as deploying solutions requires collaboration between different actors in the value chain. There is a role for government and its agencies in convening multiple stakeholders.
  • Large scale trials of whole systems should be implemented, with a focus on business models and deployment, rather than just technology.
  • Cities and utilities need to find ways to make it easier to deploy innovative products and services. Cities should look for ways to attract capital and create organisational structures which have the authority and capacity to deliver innovative programmes.

The report's authors say the UK Government, through the Department for Transport, should:

  • develop policy on how the UK’s urban transport issues could be addressed using smart urban transport solutions and develop a roadmap and targets in collaboration with industry stakeholders, cities and local government.
  • the TSB’s Transport Systems Catapult will have a role in coordinating a common vision which could be a platform for policy development.
  • BSI should be tasked with developing national standards for smart transport solutions to provide consistent definition and understanding within the industry and those that procure smart transport solutions (cities and local transport authorities), in the UK and abroad.
  • As disparity exists in levels of experience and expertise among UK cities and local transport authorities, the government should encourage better knowledge sharing between cities around topics such as the latest art of the possible, innovative procurement routes, and the intangible benefits, so encouraging more UK cities to explore smart transport solutions.
  • The Department for Transport should explore ways to encourage innovation in the transport market.
  • In conjunction with local transport authorities, innovative funding models for the most innovative smart transport projects should be explored.
  • Along with the Open Data team in the Cabinet Office, infrastructure for collecting and opening up real-time information from across the UK’s local transport authorities, so allowing common interfaces for the private sector to develop and expand services across more UK cities should be considered.

Arup also suggests that companies need to be creative in how they measure the benefits of transportation systems.

In tandem with local transport authorities, companies (it suggest) should develop incentives for consumers to encourage engagement, such as price reductions, modal shift reward schemes and bonus points. This should be combined with a more customer-centric approach and public awareness campaigns to build the case for smart transport systems and engage with concerns around privacy and data security.


Government Smart Cities investments

At the same time, a background paper published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills highlighting investments of around £95 million into smart cities, including £50 million over 5 years earmarked for the new Future Cities Catapult centre being established by the Technology Strategy Board in London, and £33 million invested in future city demonstrators earlier this year.

Other government-funded activities include transport projects to promote intelligent transport systems and smart ticketing, the roll out of telecare and telehealth in the NHS, and the introduction of smart meters by 2020.


Smart Cities in Bristol

Bristol aims to be in the top 20 European cities by 2020, making a commitment to create a world-class and inclusive green-digital economy.

Connecting Bristol - the city’s digital partnership - was established in 2006 and leads the city’s work on next generation broadband infrastructure, smart city, open data, green ICT, and digital inclusion. Bristol City Council owns and manages a £9 million city fibre network. Through ‘Gigabit Bristol’, which received £11 million UK Super Connected Cities funding, they are deploying a high-speed broadband test-bed, citywide Wi-Fi network and experimental radio frequency network.

Smart City Bristol was launched in 2011 as a collaborative programme between the public sector, business and community which builds upon the city’s digital infrastructure. The aim is to use smart technologies to meet a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020.

Bristol has received funding from government to be both a Super Connected City and a Future City Demonstrator and in 2015 Bristol will be European Green Capital, staging a programme of events centred around the idea of Bristol as a ‘Laboratory for Change’.


Smart Cities in Manchester

Greater Manchester is working to take advantage in developments in the use of data, such as mobile phone data, vehicle systems, satellite data and camera data to bring to create an oversight of the city, to put in place more efficient and reliable routes and selective priorities to buses on certain routes.


Smart Cities in Birmingham

Birmingham has an aspiration of becoming a smart, connected, city and aims to deliver a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2026.

Digital Birmingham, the City’s strategic digital lead group, is developing a roadmap and action plan, in collaboration with community experts, universities, SMES, and businesses including, CISCO, ATOS, Carillion, TATA, AMEY and IBM, to develop a 'smart city'.

Birmingham claims to already be a significantly connected city, and the additional funds of £8 million secured by Digital Birmingham for superfast and ultrafast broadband is intended to make Birmingham a 100% digitally connected city.

Birmingham's city-wide wi-fi network allows town planners to manage traffic. Over 500 traffic related sensors cover signal junctions, traffic signs, car parks and CCTV linked to a single control room. Parking sensors are also being used in a trial across the city giving motorists real time data on where on-street parking is available.


Smart Cities in Glasgow

Glasgow beat competition from 30 cities across the UK to win £24 million of funding through the Technology Strategy Board to develop a future cities demonstrator. The city plans to demonstrate new integrated services across health, transport, energy and public safety to improve the local economy and increase the quality of life of its citizens.

The Glasgow Future Cities Demonstrator aims to address some of the city’s most pressing energy and health needs. For example, developing systems to help tackle fuel poverty and to look at long-standing health issues such as low life expectancy.

The demonstrator will also show how innovative use of technology can improve the Council’s service provision, while additional potential benefits include improved crime prevention, a reduction in anti-social behaviour and improvements in travel infrastructure.

The large-scale demonstrator will include programmes to promote healthy living, advanced street lighting to address community safety and perception of crime, and enhance building energy efficiency to provide affordable warmth.

Value will be created by capturing and opening up data, improving the city’s real-time operations with a city dashboard and a management system, and a ‘MyGlasgow’ app public window on the city.


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