The UK Government has launched a new initiative to support smart cities development in the country and help them gain a 10% share of the industry, which is expected to be worth $400bn globally by 2020.
The ‘Smart Cities Forum’ has been established by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and will be chaired by universities and science minister David Willetts and cities minister Greg Clark, with representatives from cities, business, and scientists.
The forum has been created following a report from Arup, ‘Global Market Opportunities and UK Capabilities for future smart cities’, which claims that technology could transform lives and provide a huge economic boost.
Smart cities use real time data collected from the urban environment to enhance quality of life, interpreting information to manage transport routes, street lighting and water usage.
In Greater Manchester, the government is planning to bring mobile phone, vehicle systems, satellite and camera data together to create an oversight of the city.
Birmingham is planning to become a smart, connected city and deliver a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2026.
Glasgow beat off competition from 30 cities throughout the UK to win £24m funding via the Technology Strategy Board to develop a future cities demonstrator.
UK Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said the opportunity to develop new technologies for smart cities in the country is massive.
"We want to make sure that we are at the forefront of this digital revolution so we can stay ahead in the global race, designing new innovations in the UK and exporting them across the world," Willetts said.
"With around 80% of the UK’s population living in cities, we need to ensure that they are fit for purpose in the digital age. Through our information economy strategy we will support cities to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and save money."
Arup’s IT and communications practice leader and member of Smart Cities Forum Volker Buscher said that by 2050, the human population will reach nine billion, with 75% of the world’s inhabitants living in cities.
"Smart technologies can help address some of the challenges of rapid urbanisation by improving services and managing their efficiency," Buscher said.
"We already have incredible academics and professionals in the UK so we are well equipped to capitalise on this growing market and help create a better environment for us all."
Image: UK Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. Photo: Courtesy of Paul Clarke.