Article Source: IMechE

People-focused transport must come first in the development of ‘smart cities’, a new report has said, or else projects could lead to “divided and socially exclusive communities across the UK”.

Rethinking Smart Futures was published today by consultants PwC, the London Transport Museum, law firm Gowling WLG and French transport and security multinational Thales.

The report outlines a vision for smart cities that are “socially inclusive and focused on people, enabled by transport and powered by technology and data”.

It makes recommendations for government, the public sector and industry, including: “establishing a new, regulated national transport framework for public-private procurement and investment in innovation and technology”; “creating trusted and regulated processes and networks for data sharing that are resilient to cyber-attacks”; and “collaboration between central and local government with the private sector to invest in and fund local schemes that support ‘blue-sky’ innovation.”

The report follows five roundtable discussions with industry leaders, policy makers and academics last year.

“Transport is the bedrock of a smart future,” said Mark Garrity, strategy director of sales and marketing at Thales Ground Transportation Systems. “Countries, cities, and transport operators are adapting to rapid urbanisation and the changing way people travel within and between cities. To enable this evolution, we need to understand, anticipate, and meet users’ needs in real time, through the use of data analytics and technology. This report articulates a roadmap that encourages collaboration across the public and private sector to facilitate connected, more intelligent journeys for a smarter, safer, future.”

Sam Mullins, director of the London Transport Museum, said: “If the advancement of technology remains an end in itself and is not motivated by meeting the needs of people, then we risk creating smart cities and transport networks which result in communities across the UK becoming divided and socially exclusive.”

Grant Klein, transport leader at PwC, said: “There are elements of the smart city emerging across the UK, tackling issues such as transport, health and data in cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester. But progress overall is still piecemeal across the UK. If we are to encourage economic growth and meet the evolving needs of our citizens, we need to step things up a gear and put transport at the heart of every decision.”

Last year, the IMechE published Smart Cities: Technology Friend or Foe? The report made recommendations including increasing collaboration between cities and for authorities to engage with people’s concerns.

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