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Cities fail to recognise full potential of smart technologies

   
   
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07 Dec 2011 10:49:07.140
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Cities are wasting the potential of smart technologies by failing to realise the value of their hidden infrastructure and digital assets.

A report published today by The Climate Group, Accenture (NYSE: ACN), Arup and Horizon Digital Economy Research at The University of Nottingham says opening up data and digital assets is critical to accelerating low carbon cities.

The report, Information Marketplaces: The New Economics of Cities, states that while cities are using information and communications technology (ICT) to improve their sustainability and efficiency, they are not recognising or measuring the full value of smart initiatives and are missing the opportunity to turn unused data and infrastructure into new low carbon solutions and services.
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The report argues that the application of smart technology is being hindered because:

• technology-led experiments often fail to achieve useful outcomes for consumers and residents

• slow and complex municipal procurement processes make it difficult for small technology companies to participate and limit access to new solutions

• cities are unsure of the social and financial payback from the investments they are being asked to make.

Catherine Mulligan, Transitional Fellow, Horizon Digital Economy Research, said: “Through using the data from their digital infrastructure as a market creation asset, cities will be able to capture significantly more value from smart city ICT investments. In addition, developing new information marketplaces will help cities create new industries and achieve sustainable economic growth.”

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, said: “Our cities sit on vast untapped resources of data and infrastructure that could be integrated to accelerate the clean revolution while improving the convenience and quality of urban life. To unlock that potential, cities need the right leadership to create a vision of social, environmental and economic goals that can be achieved by a more integrated application of smart technology.”

The report highlights two key steps to maximize the smart technologies in cities:

Articulate the benefits

Cities must capture the potential benefits of smart technology initiatives with a common set of metrics that can be translated into financial and non-financial values of relevance to different stakeholders.

These will allow cities to:

• compare the relative benefits of projects and prioritise between them; a smart grid and a road pricing initiative for example

• achieve economies of scale by identifying how a communications backbone, in this instance, could be used for both applications. 


Simon Giles, Global Senior Principal, Intelligent Cities, Accenture, said: “We need to reframe the intelligent city value proposition by measuring and articulating the full social, environmental and economic rate of return generated by city-wide initiatives. Only then can the private sector make the business case for participating. Only then can cities make the capital decisions that bring greatest value to citizens.”

Freely available data

Research performed by Horizon illustrates that cities must provide open and free access to their data and digital assets in the form of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Making bus passenger data available, for example, could result in a range of real time commuter information services. Opening APIs will reduce the cost to third party developers of creating new information-based services and applications. It will also maximise competitive innovation by creating a level playing field for innovators.

“An intelligent city not only reduces carbon emissions, but attracts talent and investment through quality services and infrastructure and through convenience that delights residents,” said Volker Buscher, Partner, Arup. “Cities must open up their digital assets and create a thriving information marketplace for innovations that achieve these aims. It will take courage for city leaders to challenge the cultural norms of their administrations and expose themselves to this form of dynamic collaboration.”

The report makes several recommendations to policy makers and companies.

Local and national governments:

• Encourage the use of common, international metrics to assess performance and to facilitate investment decisions

• Set national goals for cities to open access to data sets

• Start a debate on open data and on the role cities should play in creating growth opportunities.

Companies:

• Understand the investment decision making process of cities to ensure private sector technology development aligns with public sector legal and procurement processes and timescales

• Encourage pre-procurement task forces, whereby companies can offer their technical expertise to help cities streamline procurement processes

• Use multi-partner trials to develop capabilities for longer term scaling of technology solutions.

— Ends —

Notes to editors:  Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. We offer a broad range of professional services that combine to make a real difference to our clients and the communities in which we work. We are truly global. From 90 offices in 35 countries our 10,000 planners, designers, engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world with creativity and passion. Founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values, our unique trust ownership fosters a distinctive culture and an intellectual independence that encourages collaborative working. This is reflected in everything we do, allowing us to develop meaningful ideas, help shape agendas and deliver results that frequently surpass the expectations of our clients. The people at Arup are driven to find a better way and to deliver better solutions for our clients. We shape a better world.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com

The Climate Group is an independent, not-for-profit organization working internationally with government and business leaders to advance The Clean Revolution: a massive upscale of smart technologies currently available, design and new business practices that is the only viable way to avert catastrophic change and to ensure that nine billion people on the planet by 2050 will not only subsist – but thrive. Founded in 2004, The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China (Beijing and Hong Kong), Europe, India and North America; and this unique global network ensures that its messages are being heard by leaders who can effect change. The Climate Group’s global coalition of companies, states, regions and cities around the world recognize the economic and environmental imperatives of taking transformational action on climate change and the low carbon economy now. Its homepage is www.theclimategroup.org

Horizon is a Research Institute at The University of Nottingham engaged in Digital Economy Research. Established in 2009, this venture represents an initial £40 million investment by Research Councils UK (RCUK), The University of Nottingham and over 100 academic and industrial partners; in both a Research Hub and Doctoral Training Centre within the RCUK Digital Economy programme.
Building on the Digital Britain plan, Horizon research focuses on the role of ‘always on, always with you’ ubiquitous computing technology. Our aim is to investigate the technical developments needed if electronic information is to be controlled, managed and harnessed — for example, to develop new products and services for societal benefit. For more information visit www.horizon.ac.uk

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia. Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Amanda Berry at Horizon on +44 (0)115 823 2554 or by email at amanda.berry@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne

Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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