Juniper Research has revealed the UK’s top 10 smart cities, following a study that took into account a wide range of indices and metrics in order to reach a final ranking.
A new listing of the UK’s top 10 smart cities, from Juniper Research, puts London in the lead – but smart city status isn’t just down to size of population or a location in the affluent south-east. In fact, Scottish cities performed strongly, with the second and third spots taken by Edinburgh and Glasgow, respectively.
The analysis used a number of city indices, including transport, healthcare, public safety, energy and productivity. Meanwhile, scores were also calculated according to a range of metrics, including present state-of-play variables – such as congestion and crime levels – as well as the progress of smart city rollouts and long-term strategies to embrace more connected technologies.
There may, of course, be challenges ahead, particularly when it comes to funding of smart city initiatives in the UK. Once Britain exits the UK, investment is likely to be sharply curtailed. After all, as Juniper’s report points out, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation have contributed over £23 billion to the UK smart city market over the last three years.
Since it seems more than likely that these resources will no longer be available to Britain after it leaves the EU, alternative funding will have to be found to replace these sources from 2019 onwards.
Internet of Business spoke to Steffen Sorrell, principal analyst at Juniper, about what smart city managers might do to address this challenge.
“One solution is to press the UK government to accelerate its devolution deals,” he said. “This will allow cities greater control over their budgets, which in turn, will allow cities greater flexibility in what kind of city challenges can be overcome.”
Additionally, excess costs might be shaved off through improved procurement – and in particular, by making deals that do not result in vendor lock-in for smart city customers, he added.
“The smart city is about using intelligence from shared data and information; a vendor who does not favour an open platform approach is likely to result in more costs for the customer down the line.”
More ‘test beds’ needed
Juniper’s report also suggests that more ‘test beds’ environments – where small-scale IoT deployments can be piloted – are needed to help the development of smart city initiatives. In particular, the company’s analysts claim this will help more risk-averse players, such as utilities companies, to work in partnership with more disruptive service providers and their technologies.
Internet of Business wanted to hear more from Steffen Sorrell about test beds and their role here. As an example, he pointed to the ‘My Electric Avenue‘ project – a collaboration between utilities companies, car manufacturers and the UK government regulator for gas and electricity, Ofgem. This has explored potential challenges and new approaches for the mass deployment of electric vehicles, which will need to be charged daily on the UK national grid. The idea behind a test bed, Sorrell explains, is to separate – or ‘sandbox’ – the test area in its own space, away from the wider market.
“Looking at the smart energy market as a whole, the UK is highly unbundled, with retail suppliers’ business models based on selling more, not less energy. So while there has been a lot of innovation on the part of distribution network operators, there is still progress to be made in terms of how utilities get around selling less energy to consumers and how things like smart meters can be justified to the consumer.”
“In large part, that is a question of testing new business models in partnership with digital services experts – energy cost premiums for certain types of customer or value-added services delivered via the smart meter connectivity on the other are two possible examples here.”