London and Bristol are UK’s leading smart cities
London and Bristol are UK's leading smart cities
London and Bristol are UK's leading smart cities

London and Bristol are UK’s leading smart cities

New research commissioned by Huawei UK suggests that London and Bristol are the UK’s leading smart cities.

IT solutions provider Huawei has launched the first ever ‘UK Smart Cities Index’, which carefully measures how comprehensively Britain’s cities are utilising digital technology to improve services from transport to education, social care and refuse collection.

The UK’s major cities each received a rank, from ‘Leader’ down to ‘Contender’, ‘Challenger’ or ‘Follower’. The overall evaluations in the report, compiled by Navigant Research, are based on Navigant’s own corpus of smart city research; public documents on city strategies, projects and performance; interviews with city leaders and project teams; and interviews with other key stakeholders in the development of smart cities from the public and private sector.

Gordon Luo, CEO of Huawei UK, praised the level of digital innovation in Britain today.

“From Bristol’s open data strategy to Milton Keynes’s pilots of autonomous vehicles, there are excellent smart cities projects all over the UK”, he said. The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index shows that, right now, Britain is one of the most advanced countries in Europe in this field. But it’s still early days and there is more work to do to build more effective partnerships between city authorities and technology providers, and in making the benefits of smart city technology apparent to a greater number of citizens.”

While London and Bristol were awarded the highest rank, “Leaders” at the top of the table; “Contenders” included Birmingham in third place, followed by Glasgow, Manchester, and Milton Keynes. The Index rankings were calculated by an analysis of ten criteria, covering areas such as their sustainability plans, digital delivery and community reach.

Huawei’s Smart Cities Index suggests that there are five themes prevalent across smart city programmes that have had the greatest impact. Arguably these are the importance of having a strong vision; a need to focus on both local priorities and strengths; engaging with local communities; building partnerships with local enterprises and understanding the way in which the data revolution can transform services and heighten innovation.

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Government support vital to smart cities

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, highlighted the government’s role in successfully incubating and supporting projects around the country.

“The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index highlights cities developing innovative digital projects and measures how well they are performing against each other,” he said. “I hope it will encourage city leaders to share best practice and promote competition, because smarter use of data and technology drives growth and delivers a better quality of life. The Government strongly supports the Smart Cities sector, through the Future Cities Catapult and the Internet of Things City Demonstrator programme, and we welcome this report.”

Eric Woods, the research director at Navigant Consulting who led the study, complemented the depth of development in a country assumed by many to be dominated by its capital city. “London and Bristol stand out from the crowd for combining technical innovation with a broader strategy for city development,” he said. “But there are a number of cities close behind them with strong smart city programmes. The message from our research is that more city leaders need to embed the idea of smart capabilities into their urban projects. Cities and central government also need to work together to ensure successful pilot projects are turned into scalable projects that benefit all citizens.”

Huawei is well placed to assess the state of the UK’s smart cites. As well as being one of the largest Chinese mainland inward investors in the UK, the company has provided smart city solutions in more than 60 cities across 20 different countries.

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