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London and Bristol named the smartest cities

Report finds plenty to celebrate but also emphasises the importance of collaborative working, measurable outcomes and sound business cases

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Vaizey: hopes the index will encourage leaders to share best practice
Vaizey: hopes the index will encourage leaders to share best practice

London and Bristol have topped the UK’s first ever smart city Index. The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index measured how well the nation’s urban centres are doing at using digital technology to improve everything from their transport infrastructure to their refuse collection. Birmingham took third spot followed by Glasgow, Manchester, and Milton Keynes. The index identifies leaders, contenders and challengers.


Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Consulting who led the study, said that London and Bristol stand out from the crowd for combining technical innovation with a broader strategy for city development. The capital’s congestion charge scheme, transport innovations and the London Datastore were cited as among its successes while Bristol’s achievements include the Bristol Is Open project, which has brought together the University of Bristol, Bristol City Council and industry partners to create a city-scale network for innovation. Woods added though that 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,” he said. “Cities and central government also need to work together to ensure successful pilot projects are turned into scalable projects that benefit all citizens.”


As well as collaborative working and knowledge sharing, the report emphasises the need for future demonstration projects to have a strong emphasis on both measurable outcomes and sound business cases.


Speaking at the launch event in London, Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said he hopes the index 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,” he said.


The rankings were calculated by an in-depth analysis of 10 criteria within their strategy and execution, covering areas such as their vision, objectives, implementation record, environmental impact and community reach. The index highlighted five themes that are common across the most successful smart city programmes which are: the importance of leadership and vision; a need to focus on local priorities and strengths; the importance of engagement with local communities; building local partnerships and understanding the way in which the data revolution can improve services and boost innovation.


The full ranking is as follows:

1 London (leader)

2 Bristol (leader)

3 Birmingham (contender)

4 Glasgow (contender)

5 Manchester (contender)

6 Milton Keynes (contender)

7 Leeds (contender)

8 Peterborough (contender)

9 Nottingham (challenger)

10 Sheffield (challenger)


Gordon Luo, Huawei UK CEO, said: “From Bristol’s open data strategy to Milton Keynes’s pilots of autonomous vehicles, there are excellent smart cities projects all over the UK. We wanted to understand how well advanced these schemes were and where lessons could be learnt between them. 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.”

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