Three Scottish cities named among most ‘digitally savvy’ urban areas of UK in new report
CivTech - Image credit: CivTech
Three Scottish cities have been named among the top 20 council areas in the UK for urban technology.
Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh are listed as some of the most ‘digitally savvy’ parts of the UK in The Rise of Urbantech, a report by Public, a company that helps start-ups transform public services.
Written by London’s new chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell, and Public’s director of insight, Max Chambers, the report examines how technology is shaping local public services.
The report looks at how councils are embracing digital innovation, as well as the barriers to change, future trends and the value that tech start-ups can offer to local government.
In the foreword, West Midlands mayor Andy Street says: “UrbanTech – that is, technology that makes cities and urban spaces more connected, liveable, and efficient – can transform old-style services relatively inexpensively.
“Data, used smartly, can enhance all manner of interventions, from social care and the fight against homelessness, to how cities plan housing, organise transport and, perhaps most importantly for a tech-savvy and smartphone-enabled population, engage with citizens.”
The report names the top urban ‘ecosystems of innovation’, judged by their ambitions around digital transformation, their leadership in open data, the forward-looking projects they present for their city and region and the way they are trying to curate the local marketplace.
Aberdeen is noted for a new operating model that aims to embed smart city goals into the design and operation of city services and for renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Group Partnership.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are jointly named for having a focus on health and social care, justice and social security digital redesign built around the needs of their users.
The Scottish Government’s CivTech challenge and the appointment of shared chief digital officer and chief technology officer for Scottish local government are also mentioned as positive examples of collaboration.
CivTech is described as providing an “unprecedented route for entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and other businesses to develop the benefits of digital in the public sector.”
Challenges around local government funding are seen as an opportunity for driving change.
The report says: “The local government picture is changing rapidly. Several major factors are converging to create new impetus for innovation and experimentation.
“These include cuts to council funding (as well as the possible impact of Brexit), rising citizen expectations, new collaborative networks that are accelerating digital change and technological developments that are opening up new possibilities for more efficient, responsive and personalised services.”
However, it also warns that despite “pockets of good practice”, too many councils are failing to “grasp the nettle” around reform, while large companies “still dominate, sitting comfortably on 30 year contracts”.