Smart Cities

What does it mean to be a smart city - and how are cities making it happen?

This briefing explores the definitions, opportunities and challenges of making cities 'smart'

Briefing published on 29 May 2014 by Centre for Cities


Now more than ever, UK cities need to provide public services more efficiently while at the same time supporting sustainable and long term economic growth. The latest thinking suggests that the best way to do this is by becoming ‘smart’. This generally means using new technologies (mainly information and communication technologies) and data to improve service delivery and address various economic, social and environmental challenges.

Due to the potential benefits of using smart technologies, UK cities are becoming increasingly active on this agenda. London and Birmingham, for example, have already issued their ‘smart’ plans and other cities are implementing smart-related projects. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are also incorporating smart initiatives in their Strategic Economic Plans and the Government is providing funding for smart projects and establishing forums for collaboration. Yet despite some pilot projects being implemented, take up of smart technologies amongst cities is slow.

This briefing paper explores the various ways ‘smart’ is being defined by cities, technology companies and cities, and looks at the challenges cities face in implementing a smart strategy.

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