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Ruli Pennington is Editor of Council News Monitor and writes Night in the City an occasional column for Information Daily. She is passionate about better public services, devolution, malt whisky & women's football.

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UK Smart City Index puts Bristol at number one

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Image:
© Charlie Marshall, Frankenbus, January 2014

The UK Smart City Index, commissioned by IT manufacturer Huawei, has outlined UK's top smart-cities and guidance for those wishing to become 'smarter'.

The second annual UK Smart City Index, from Navigant Consulting, suggets that Bristol has surpassed London in being UK's foremost smart city. 

ndex, commissioned by IT manufacturer Huawei, examines the strategy and execution of 20 smart cities in UK, highlighting each city’s approaches, key projects, and overall readiness to develop their smart-city visions.

It was Bristol, however, whose work in digital fields such as access to data and community engagement, as well as projects in energy innovation that has allowed the city to take the top spot. The south-west city is placed next to 2016's winner London as a smart-city "Leader".

“London and Bristol stand out from the crowd for combining technical innovation with a broader strategy for city development, but there are a number of cities close behind them with strong smart city programs,” says Eric Woods, research director with Navigant Research. “The message from our research is that more city leaders need to embed the idea of smart capabilities into their urban projects. Cities and central government also need to work together to ensure successful pilot projects are turned into scalable projects that benefit all citizens.”

According to the white paper, the most successful smart cities share five common characteristics: strong leadership and vision; a focus on local priorities and strengths; engagement with local communities; a network of local partnerships; and an understanding of the impact of the data revolution on city services.

Woods laid out these characteristics in five key goals for any city wishing to become 'smarter'.

Firstly, it is key that cities aligned their smart-city operations with the wider needs of public service providers. Second is to employ technology that will work with current communication capability in the area.

Thirdly, a smart-city must take into consideration those areas outside of the city centre, and fourthly is to expand connectivity between public and private sector entities involved in a smart-city initiative.

Lastly, Woods argues that fostering connectivity between siloed branches of government, such as transport and healthcare, is at the core of any smart-city.

“At the leading edge of where we are, it is not about technology, it is about how we use the technology effectively" said Woods.

"How do we make the links between the innovation programmes that are being established and...actual operational priorities? And how do we talk to the city leaders? There is a lot of work going on to build those bridges”

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