Rethinking Smart Futures: Focused on people, enabled by transport, powered by technology
This report draws on a series of five roundtable events that brought together leading thinkers and decision-makers to debate the challenges and opportunities facing cities, transport and infrastructure, today and tomorrow. The report sets out a vision for smart cities, defining the attributes that will characterise the successful ‘places’ of the future. It examines the challenges to progress towards this agenda – the obstacles to overcome. Finally, it proposes an agenda for action – setting out how different participants can work together, and galvanise themselves and others to seize the opportunities on offer.
Steps to becoming a smart city will inevitably involve a combination of technologies – but these are the means rather than the end. The core purpose for any progressive city is to have a thriving population with an enhanced quality of life for all. Putting people at the heart of our future cities is critical for their success.
The report suggests that for the development of a world-class smart city, a city authority must work out how technology, innovation and transport will fit together to help achieve a combination of the following:
- Develop a holistic strategy – The keystone for success for a smart city is a shared vision and comprehensive growth strategy. This needs to incorporate the multiple stakeholders and organisations across the public, private and third sectors, and be underpinned by strong, clear governance.
- Tackle societal challenges – It is important to address their citizens’ needs to provide a high degree of livability. That covers employment opportunities, health, housing, leisure, education, mobility, connectivity and more. All while tackling challenges around environmental, social and economic sustainability.
- Include an underlying social inclusion agenda – Social exclusion and inequality are among the biggest issues facing our cities. Whether the problems are related to financial exclusion, or access to employment, transport or digital connectivity, a successful smart future must help address them. Reducing inequality and deprivation can itself drive growth according to a report by the Inclusive Growth Commission.
- Make it easy to embrace digital innovation – Advances in technology are opening up opportunities to tackle social and environmental challenges. To capitalise on them, smart cities will actively embrace innovation, necessitating them working in new structures and business models.
- Develop an iconic brand – Every successful place needs to have a distinctive offer for residents, business and investors, and a credible vision for why it’s unique. This could be a keystone asset such as an educational institution or industry cluster. When this works well, a city attracts, trains and retains world class talent, as well as nurturing its own residents’ talents, thereby encouraging aspiration.
- Prioritise transport as a vital enabler and underpinner –While any smart future encompasses many areas of people’s lives, the ability to move around easily and cost-effectively is a vital enabler of all the other benefits. That’s why our debates – and this report – have focused particularly on transport.
The report was created by PwC in collaboration with the London Transport Museum, Thales and Gowling WLG.