So, what is a smart city? One thing's for sure, there are lots of different definitions and interpretations. But why do towns and cities even need to be 'smart'? Many of them are contending with a number of challenges:

  • How to provide services to a growing and ageing population
  • How to mitigate and adapt to the issues of climate change and poor air quality
  • How to tackle traffic congestion and improve public transport systems
  • How to build sustainably and retrofit existing commercial buildings and homes
  • How to incorporate renewables in to the energy mix
  • How to collect the right data and use it to improve services
  • How to ensure that people are at the heart and no-one is left behind

The volume of all data stored currently amounts to around 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes which equates to the numbers of grains of sand on all beaches on the earth. It is estimated that only 15% of assets are connected - as more assets are connected and sensors rolled out, the amount of data will only increase. If used correctly, this data could help to save lives, improve commuting times, lower the disease burden, reduce crime and save resources.

Cities like London have developed strategies on how to be smarter, including the use of data, but a lot of cities haven't. For example, it is estimated in the UK that around 80% of cities do not have a plan.

Crystal Associates have developed a number of 'smart city' strategies together with cities around the world.Find out more here