While a smart city might have at one time sounded like something from a science fiction film, in reality, smart cities are becoming more and more common across the globe. Indeed, with cities like London, Tokyo and New York all making major changes to embrace technology, you might just be surprised to hear that you could be closer to living in a smart city than you might have thought.

What is a Smart City?

At its most basic, a smart city is one that utilises technology in order to make a city run at its most productive for those living within it. This, generally, means that a city will be connected on every single level – from the underground right up to they sky.

To do this, cities will combine technology, actuators and IoT (internet of things). All of which will work together to provide a breadth of information, that can then be interpreted and collated together in order to create systems from which more streamlined processes can be created.

This information is most likely collected through a cloud-based ICT framework, which allows machines to interact and ‘talk’ to each other remotely. This isn’t just for commercial outlets though, as the residents of a smart city will also give back information to that city. Most likely through connected smart homes and cars, as well as mobile phones.

By consenting to share information with a smart city, you will be working together to help that city to improve public transport, rubbish collection and even look to improve air quality through a reduction in traffic congestion. It might even be possible to properly distribute energy is a way that can help the environment. All thanks to the Internet of things for smart cities!

How Will Sharing Information Streamline a Smart City?

When it comes to sharing information with the Government or your local council, it is natural to feel apprehensive. However, when it comes to smart cities, working together will enable the processes to work for the benefit of those who live and work in that area.

Here are just some of the ways that a smart city can work in a way that could benefit you:

Smart Wheelie Bins

For our rubbish collection, we’re given a pre-planned collection schedule, where we need to manage our waste ourselves to make sure our bins don’t overflow on weeks where that particular bin isn’t getting lifted.

When you use wheelie bins that have smart sensors, sending a signal when full, a council can look at whether their current schedule is actually fulfilling the needs of those in the city and whether it would benefit from being altered.

Connected Smart Cars

Connecting your car to a smart city comes with a host of benefits for drivers. For one, rather than having to manually use a parking meter, it could be possible to have your car connected digitally to the meter. Which means you’ll automatically pay for the time you spend in that space, rather than guessing and running the risk of going over your limit.

For electric cars, when you’re struggling to find a charging point, or are perhaps new to a city, your connected car could receive directions instructing you where to go.

Traffic Lights for Reduced Congestion

When a city’s traffic lights are connected to a central mainframe, data can be used to see if these lights need altering during congested times. This should be able to respond to traffic in real-time, adjusting the times in which lights change in order to reduce traffic.

Do We Really Need Smart Cities?

It’s thought that by 2050 a massive 66% of the population will live within a city. Which means, with such rapid expansion in the population of our cities, we need to take steps in order to ensure that a city’s resources can be fairly shared amongst these new residents.

When a city utilises smart technologies, it has the best chance at creating an enjoyable place for everyone to live in. Plus, by implementing sensor technology, cities also have the best chances at adhering to global targets, such as those for climate change.

What Challenges Does a City Face on its Journey to Becoming Smart?

While new technology is evolving daily, turning what was once impossible into the possible, getting this technology into a city isn’t entirely simple. For instance, many local government bodies have been the following the same procedures for decades, meaning a lot of risk in changing – not to mention the expense and integration of such changes.

Plus, because utilities are privatised, just because your city is looking to pool together and work towards a smarter city, you may still feel pushback from certain companies. There would also need to be a high level of public cooperation for the plans to work too, as a lot of data needed comes from those living in that city.


Overall, the UK seems keen to implement smart city technology in all of its major cities. Especially since the concept of smart cities can help save money, is more environmentally friendly and uses insight to improve the quality of life for those working and living within it.

To overcome the major obstacles that can face a smart city, more cities need to join forces and share data they have already found so far from research and early models. By doing this, best practice business models and methods could easily be tested and shared around the UK, making the switch to technology that much easier for everyone involved.

With the addition of more government funding and an increased willingness from private business to collaborate with local authorities and regional partners, it’s likely that implementing a smart technologies will be simpler than we might have considered just a few years ago. This means that smart cities and more efficient living could be just around the corner throughout the UK.

Smart Cities North Events

We launched a series events last year, focused on Smart Cities, with the most recent event being held in February discussing Smart Health and MedTech.

The next event is being held on 12th May, and will be based around Data and Cyber Security in the context of mart Cities. You can register to attend for free here.

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