“Smart City investments represent the beginning of a ‘Big Data ecosystem’ of interrelated data stores and streams, with the potential to better connect the people tasked with leading cities and those who live in them, ultimately to facilitate enhanced collaboration between them.
The real challenge is not availability of data or the desire to share it but applying what the data shows in order to better design and deliver services to the public. As well as improved efficiency, there are many practical impacts of the bringing together of energy, transport, public safety and health data, for example. From real time information on road traffic levels, health service waiting lists and ease of reporting problems, citizens in a Smart City should find their public services more responsive to their needs.
Three key challenges should be addressed in order to exploit such potential; securing the skills to interpret and act on the data in a public service context; greater locally driven decision making, moving away from centralist diktats; and greater coordination and collaboration between the public and private sectors, exploiting the skills, insight and indeed the requirements for a growth-focused environment of the different sectors within regional economies.
To be relevant in a global stage those leading our cities will do well to embrace the ‘Smart City’ as an economic growth strategy given a range of new mid-size cities around the globe are growing fast and competing fiercely for access to global capital and talent. In future, the engine rooms and the board rooms of our public services may both be full of data scientists.”
Commenting on the announcement that a new Catapult centre that will help make cities become smarter and more forward thinking will be hosted in London, Tim Kay, Head of KPMG’s Early Stage Technology Group said:
“This is excellent news for London, and could be an exciting step at making the UK a world centre for businesses tackling the issues faced by today's modern cities.
“Smart cities are the way forward and provide a massive opportunity for the UK technology sector. Estimates suggest that the connected cities market could be worth as much as $35bn in the coming years and it therefore has to be hoped that this will provide an opportunity for up and coming UK technology companies working in this space to show their skills and products. Too often these companies have had to look overseas for market opportunities, increasing their risks and slowing their growth prospects.”