A global review of smart cities

14th November 2017
Joe Bush

The Smart City Expo World Congress, currently underway in Barcelona, has seen Future Cities Catapult release its first global review of smart city strategies. The report (which can be downloaded in full below) looks at 21 smart city strategies from around the world including New York, Berlin, Sao Paulo and Manchester.

The global market for smart cities is shifting, with Asia’s smart city market expected to grow from $50bn to $220bn by 2020. By 2050, the UN projects an extra 2.5bn people will live in cities, with 90% of this growth coming from Asia and Africa. The report argues that understanding how smart cities are being developed from a global perspective is crucial to empowering both cities and industry to deliver the smarter cities that prosperity and sustainability require.

This global review charts the evolution in smart city strategies from technology driven towards citizen centred. It highlights the challenges in creating collaborative citizen-led strategies that can cope with a new wave of digital disruption as evidenced by apps such as Uber and Airbnb.

Produced with the support of Arup, the review provides city leaders with an analysis of what leading cities are doing to create smart city strategies that are suited to their needs, and how they are structuring themselves to deliver these strategies within difficult, complex environments. Based on the research, the review makes the following five recommendations for city governments:

  1. Establish strong leadership to develop skills and capacity within local government to initiate and deliver at-scale smart city projects
  2. Embed your smart city strategy within existing statutory frameworks in order to ensure the strategy’s implementation and funding
  3. When creating your smart city strategy, consider a collaborative approach, coupled with strong political support, to ensure that you harness your citizens’ and businesses’ capabilities and respond to their needs
  4. Tap into core city funding by regularly scanning your existing city assets and budgets in order to leverage these for smart city projects
  5. Create a plan for private sector engagement and long term collaboration, as well as a designated person or team for communicating with businesses and investors.

Jarmo Eskelinen, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Future Cities Catapult, reinforced the need for city leaders to learn from each other: “At Future Cities Catapult we believe that creating positive transformation on the ground requires strategies for dealing with the reality of cities. We created this report to give city leaders a head start on how they can learn from the experience of those cities that have been developing smart city strategies for years, and those that have only just started.”

Steve Turner, Smart Cities Lead at Arup, emphasised the role that this learning will have in creating better performing, more competitive cities: “City authorities are at the core of digital transformation. Their ability to be the fulcrum between articulating citizen need and engaging technology providers, will be key in determining overall city competitiveness. This research will help authorities around the world to create strategies that enable them to fulfil this critical role.”

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