Brits ‘lack interest in smart cities’

Only 18% of British people have heard about a smart city. That’s according to research by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which also reveals a lack of consumer consensus […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Only 18% of British people have heard about a smart city.

That’s according to research by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which also reveals a lack of consumer consensus on the relevance of technologies associated with smart cities.

The IET, which surveyed 531 people, found that the lowest awareness of smart cities was among those aged above 65 with 6% and the highest was for those aged between 18 and 34 with 37%.

Furthermore, around 8% defined a smart city as “a city that has a higher than average proportion of universities and colleges and aims to attract the most intellectuals” while 5% said “a city that has a strict cleaning regime for its buildings, roads and public places”.

When asked for their views on smart city technologies and how useful they might be in their local areas, around 29% of them said “intelligent” streetlights activated by movement to improve safety, deter crime and save energy would be most useful.

Around 25% were more interested in buildings that generate their own energy, 23% preferred sensors embedded in roads and buildings which measure traffic flows, predict congestion and adjust traffic lights and signals.

Alan Howard, IET Head of Thought Leadership said: “In spite of substantial investment in smart cities from the government, local authorities and businesses, most people don’t understand the concept or, more importantly, how smart city digital communications technology could improve their quality of life by enhancing infrastructure and public services, including transport and traffic management, energy, water and waste management, healthcare and other community services.

“It’s also important that public authorities, businesses and service providers understand the innovations and issues that people want to see in smart cities and communities – and put greater emphasis on the human and societal outcomes of their initiatives. Putting people first, rather than technology, is essential if we are to improve quality of life and create liveable, connected and sustainable cities and communities in which to live, work and invest.”