A new report commissioned by Huawei said that London and Bristol are ahead of the curve when it comes to smart city innovation, ranking them as the top two cities in its UK Smart Cities Index.
The index, which is based on research from Navigant Research, assesses the progress made to date by 10 cities across the UK in developing and implementing smart technologies.
The 10 cities were selected on the breadth and depth of their smart or future city strategy and specific programmes in areas such as digital innovation, social care, urban mobility, energy, education and sustainability.
London and Bristol are classed as "leaders" because of the clarity, breadth, and inclusiveness of their smart city vision and planning. Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Peterborough are ranked as "contenders", while Nottingham and Sheffield are described as "followers".
London was praised for programmes such as the congestion charge and other low-carbon transport programmes, an ambitious climate plan and energy programme, and a strong commitment to open data and the use of data analytics.
While reports like the UK Smart Cities Index are starting to assess progress being made by smart cities globally, it's still not always that easy to define what a "smart city" is, however.
Indeed, Roman Mendle, smart cities programme manager at the ICLEI, recently told FierceWireless:Europe that sustainability should be established as the main goal of any smart city project and warned against the focus being entirely on technology for technology's sake.
"We would say that if you do not make sustainability the main goal of a smart city project, then what is so smart about it?" Mendle said.
Importantly, any new technology or assets adopted by any city should not actually have the opposite effect of making life more complex -- and expensive -- for its administrators or citizens.
According to Juan Echevarria Cuenca from Santander City Council, which has taken over the running of the European Union-funded SmartSantander project in Spain, it is essential to ensure that a city is careful with the extra assets it assumes, "as the efficiency in the use of resources is a cornerstone in the smart city paradigm."
InterDigital and Machina Research also recently warned that city authorities could waste $341 billion (€297 billion) if they deploy non-standardised Internet of Things (IoT) products in their smart city projects.
- see the Huawei report (PDF)
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