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by Colin Marrs
02 July 2015
Most citizens unaware of smart city initiatives, research finds

Most citizens unaware of smart city initiatives, research finds

Traffic congestion is the number one issue that the population believe should be tackled through “smart city” initiatives, according to research.

A survey by communications firm Arqiva found that the issue was most commonly identified as a problem and as a spending priority among respondents from across the UK.

However, the results also revealed that 96 per cent of citizens are unaware of any “smart city” initiatives being carried out in their local authority area.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced €15m had been set aside with the Scottish European Regional Development Fund Programme for 2014-2020 to make Scotland’s cities smarter.

Sean Weir, business development director of smart metering and M2M at Arqiva said, “There seems to be a dire lack of understanding of the progress and impact being made by the UK’s cities – resulting in almost half of our citizens feeling that smart cities across the UK are still more than five years away.

“Without the proper support these initiatives will die on their feet, so far greater communication is needed on what exactly is happening and why people should care.”

“Many smart city initiatives are only small scale pilot or lab-based experiments and it appears that many cities lack the ability to roll-out large scale smart projects that would truly make a difference to local citizens.”

Almost a third of respondents thought that the greatest benefit of a connected city would be a better living environment, although almost a quarter were unclear on the potential benefits.

More than a third (37 per cent) of 18-24 year olds claim to be passionate about their nearest city becoming smart, but that age group also said (33 per cent) they would consider moving to another city if it was smarter than their own.

“Councils desperately need to find a way to harness the enthusiasm of the tech-savvy younger generation,” Weir said.

“If done correctly, they create powerful advocates to spread awareness – if done wrong, and they risk their city’s economic future.”

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