Thirty city and borough councils from across the UK have been selected to take part in the government's Future Cities Demonstrator programme, which aims to kickstart the market for integrated city systems.
The list of councils includes: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Camden, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Enfield, Glasgow, Ipswich, Leeds (working with Bradford), Leicester, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Salford, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swindon and Warrington.
Each council will now receive £50,000 from the government’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), to complete a feasibility study showing how they could integrate their transport, communications and other infrastructure to improve the local economy, increase quality of life and reduce impact on the environment.
The cities that have completed the feasibility studies will also be able to submit a proposal for a large-scale ‘future cities demonstrator’ by 14 November 2012, and one successful city will be awarded £24 million funding to implement their proposal in January 2013.
“We planned originally to fund 20 feasibility studies but because of the number of high quality initial proposals received from councils across the whole country we decided to increase the funding available so that thirty studies could be carried out,” said Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board.
“The results will be made public and we look forward to seeing some exciting future city demonstrator proposals.”
The demonstrator project will allow businesses to test new solutions for connecting and integrating individual city systems. The £24 million prize fund is expected to support the winning project for two years, but the TSB said applicants should demonstrate the potential for further development after that time.
Commenting on the news, Joe Dignan, Ovum’s chief analyst for public sector, said that the project has the potential to substantially move on the smart cities market, which is expected to be worth £200 billion a year by 2030.
“At least 50 communities were in scope and have therefore audited their current situation, thought about how greater connectivity could improve their competitiveness and have developed a framework for their smart city strategy,” said Dignan. “The 30 feasibility winners, armed with their strategies, now have a concrete starting point to initiate discussions with vendors.”
He said that the TSB was likely to face questions about why 26 of the 30 winners were English, but said the organisation's decision to award one large prize, which was likely to create meaningful data to inform the ROI for smart cities.
“Ovum believes smart cities represent the delta between technology and people. However, the market has been stalled through the public sector not having viable examples, at scale, which proved the business case for smart cities,” he said.
“The smart city debate, in essence, is the belief that integrating a ‘system of systems’ will result in the symbiotic improvement of economic competitiveness and ‘livability’.”