Smart cities are on the rise, in the UK, and globally. Both Bristol and London have been designated as smart city leaders in the UK, with Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, and Glasgow following on behind.
But what exactly is a ‘smart city’, and what are the opportunities for the construction sector as they continue to grow?
According to techopedia.com a smart city is one that incorporates data and ICT to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation, and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage, and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology.
Essentially smart cities are where big data comes into its own.
Whilst there are some purpose-built smart cities constructed as self-contained developments, such as Songdo, South Korea, and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the majority of smart city development is dependent on existing city leaders establishing and implementing a detailed plan to integrate smart technologies into their current city plans.
ESI Thoughtlabs’ Smarter Cities 2025 report predicts that by 2040, the UK’s cityscapes will have realised their potential to offer an integrated, smart, connected infrastructure to work, live and travel. Our cities will be smarter, not only because of the integration of technology and use of big data, but because smart cities are focused on people, and the development of initiatives that improve the experience of city life for residents.
This prediction, and the current rise of smart city development, would suggest that there are opportunities for developers and contractors. ESI Thoughtlabs’ report suggests that in order to achieve smart city transformation, city leaders need to put in place five foundational pillars—governance, infrastructure, economy, talent, and funding.
By working with city planners, progressive developers and contractors can get ahead of the competition whilst also moving UK cities closer to smart transformation. By adopting smart technologies in building including; sustainable construction practices, BIM, and integrating improved infrastructure for transport, we can help to achieve smart city transformation.