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Bristol overtakes London as the UK’s smartest city

Index shows forward momentum in the UK smart cities movement since first Index published 18 months ago

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Bristol is number one
Bristol is number one

Bristol has stolen a march on London to become the UK’s leading smart city according to the second UK Smart Cities Index, commissioned by Huawei UK and conducted by Navigant Consulting.

 

The report builds on last year’s inaugural Index and has been expanded to include 20 cities, rather than the original ten, demonstrating the on-going momentum behind the smart cities movement in the UK.

 

The aim of the report is to build up a profile of smart city development in the UK by comparing the strategies, key projects and overall readiness of the 20 cities in reference to each other.

 

The Index rankings were calculated by an in-depth analysis of ten criteria within the cities’ strategy and execution, covering areas such as vision, digital innovation, implementation record, environmental impact and community reach.

 

Cities were assessed and then placed into one of four categories: Leaders (highest ranking) Contenders, Challengers and Followers.

 

Bristol and London were once again accorded Leader positions with overall scores of 82.7 and 81.2 respectively.

 

Bristol’s move up the rankings is a direct result of it taking significant strides to extend its innovation programmes and more closely integrate those initiatives into city strategy.

 

The Bristol Is Open project provides a large-scale connectivity test bed and the new City Operations Centre ensures that services are effectively implemented. The city also leads in data access, energy innovation and community engagement.

 

Since the 2016 Index, London’s smart city plans have evolved to focus on data-driven policy initiatives and an ambitious new environmental plan. There has also been considerable progress in several London boroughs, notably in the ambitious Digital Greenwich programme. The appointment of London’s first Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Theo Blackwell is also expected to accelerate London’s development in coming months.

 

Contender cities were described as those that have, “well-defined, evolving strategies and an impressive array of innovation projects.” They are building on well-established programmes, forging stronger bonds between different stakeholders and looking to “accelerate the wider deployment of successful solutions.”

 

This was the largest group in the survey and led by Manchester, which climbed two places up to third in the rankings from the inaugural report. Manchester was also recognised as the most improved city on the Index.

 

Other cities in this group included Birmingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Nottingham, Peterborough, Cambridge, Oxford, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

 

Challengers included Sheffield, Belfast, Reading and Liverpool. These cities were seen to have created strong smart foundations and were expected to make major strides in the coming year.

 

The final category, Followers, included Cardiff and Exeter with both still needing to develop a smart strategy and establish an ecosystem needed to foster innovation.

 

Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Consulting, who led the study, said: “UK cities are demonstrating an impressive commitment to service and technology innovation. They are now embedding smart city ideas into city planning and operations. They are also preparing for the impact of the next wave of technologies, including 5G, autonomous vehicles, and machine learning. The growing contribution that local universities are making to these programmes further emphasises the importance of advanced technologies to the future of UK cities.”

 

For the first time, the report also acknowledged specific smart city developments across 9 cities with a Star Award accolade.

 

Milton Keynes received a Star Award for transportation, Leeds for Health, Newcastle for Education, Glasgow for Safety, Peterborough for Sustainability, Internet of Things for Bristol, Strategy for Aberdeen, Data and Analytics for London.

 

Nottingham came to the fore with an award for energy, where it was described as a pioneer with an impressive roster of community energy projects.

 

Future Cities Catapult was also recognised for its city partner role, being an important catalyst for smart city innovation, including work on smart planning projects, the Cities Standards Institute and programme support for cities.

 

Innovate UK, the Scottish Smart Cities initiative, academic institutions and the private sector were also all highlighted as key to driving smart cities progress.

 

The report also urged government to underwrite risk, address procurement issues and support collaboration.

 

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “The digital revolution is gaining momentum all over the UK - smarter cities can improve people’s everyday lives from accessing healthcare to simplifying waste management and streamlining public services. We are backing smart cities and the recent review into Artificial Intelligence highlighted how we can establish ourselves as the world leader in this area of emerging technology."

 

Huawei has been involved in the facilitation of 80 smart cities round the world. Gordon Luo, CEO, Huawei UK, said the UK Smart Cities Index reflects the company’s commitment to deliver smart solutions for the betterment of society. He described the Index as a practical resource for future development, and promised that the next report will be in greater depth, illustrating further best practice and on-going collaboration.

 

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