What do you need to make a ‘smart’ city?

You may have come across the word ‘smart’ applied as a prefix to your home or the city you live in recently. The concepts of smart homes and smart cities are fast gaining traction as technological advancement becomes more and more inclined to make our lives easier, and our task list more efficient.

92.2% of the UK population is expected to live in cities by 2030. As city populations increase, so too does the need to efficiently and suitably manage them to provide a safe, secure and prosperous environment for all. That’s where smart cities come in.

Technological innovations can be used to upgrade and enhance the ways in which a city functions in day-to-day life; from improving the efficacy of electricity and water systems via the automatic detection of surges and leaks to rerouting traffic and alleviating congestion in busy areas.

Smart cities are built on a legion of multi-connected sensors, recording and reporting mountains of data on how life in the city transpires. This data can then be used to develop innovative ways to make said life better, healthier, and more cost-effective.

Across the UK, cities are beginning to wake up to the potential boon that smart city technology can bring. Manchester has its CityVerve project, aimed at using smart city technology to improve the lives of Mancunians. Meanwhile, in Bristol, the Bristol Is Open scheme opens much of the city’s data archives to the private and educational sector, to look for improvements and understanding in the way the city is run.

But, just what makes a city ‘smart’? It certainly isn’t just a multitude of sensors and new-fangled computers recording the daily life on its population.

Inclusive improvement

Any improvements brought about through deployment of technology must be inclusive and accessible for all citizens. Growth in the economy and improvements to the daily lives of those who live, work and play in a city environment should be to the benefit of everyone, regardless of socio-economic status and background. This could represent the curtailing of crime levels via facial recognition software and CCTV recorders, to improvements in the way electricity and water services are managed, cost-saving measures that can be passed on to the customer.  


The ailing health status of the environment is inescapable news at the moment. City living certainly doesn’t lend itself to a clean, and healthy lifestyle; congested traffic levels belch out toxic fumes, whilst greenspace areas become ever rarer, disappearing in favour of more buildings and more roads.

As a city population increases, managing its sustainability and effect on the environment is paramount, to ensure that its citizens can live the healthiest, happiest life possible. Smart city technology can affect sustainability in a broad sense; from reporting and analysing traffic levels and air pollution, to placing more emphasis on renewable energy sources, to providing improvements to public spaces through artificial intelligence technology.


 Both citizens and local authorities can benefit from the cost-savings offering through technological deployment. Money can be saved everywhere, one such example reduces the cost of waste management by applying sensors to public bins. These sensors will record the level of refuse present and report when they need to be emptied, rather than this being done manually by a local authority representative.

Safe and secure

When handling such a vast amount of public data, ensuring both network and storage are secure is paramount. Much of the data collected could be highly sensitive; if not on an individual level, then certainly in regards to a city’s infrastructure and economy. Protecting said data and network systems from outside, and potentially malicious, entities goes hand-in-hand with a smart city success.

Citywide connectivity

Of course, deploying all manner of sensors and measurement tools citywide means nothing unless they are built upon a secure, super-fast digital connectivity platform. To handle data on the scale necessary for a city, and to respond and report with near-human reaction times, a powerful connectivity solution must also be deployed. Low-latency, high bandwidth WiFi or 5G technology forms the backbone of a smart city solution.








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Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.

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