The rise of the smart sustainable city

Until now, tackling the problems associated with urbanization has been a complex issue. One important challenge for local authorities is key decisions have to be made in isolation on a department-by-department basis, rather than with a big-picture view of the city as a whole.

But now, city leaders and town planners can meet the challenges head-on and transform their communities – using best practice guidance developed by peers and experts.

A smart city harnesses digital technology and data – often in energy, water and transport – to perform better, boost wellbeing and respond to local and global challenges.

In a smart city, individual city systems are highly integrated, not just within themselves but also with each other. This means they can seamlessly deliver the best for the local area. What’s more, the smart city agenda isn’t only for major cities; it’s just as important for smaller cities and towns.

For urban citizens, this means services built around their needs, better access to information on all aspects of their city and increased input into public sector decision-making. The outcome is a nicer place to live and work, and better services at a lower cost.

The rewards for towns and cities that step up

If it’s managed well, urbanization could lead to a new era of wellbeing, resource efficiency and economic growth. It has the potential to yield benefits ranging from increased employment and improved health, to better education and environmental protection.

With the right strategies, towns and cities can:

  • save money and strengthen their tax base
  • attract more talent, businesses and investment
  • manage services more efficiently, such as traffic congestion
  • reduce pollution
  • offer their citizens an excellent quality of life
  • set the standard for sustainability

The risks for towns and cities that don’t adapt

Unless they adapt to this change, towns and cities will struggle to deal with problems like:

  • the need to compete for talent and capital with other cities worldwide
  • the inward migration that’s increasing congestion, pollution and pressure on services
  • the shrinking industries that lead cities to fall into decline
  • the rise in online shopping and entertainment that’s changing the face of local retail
  • the ageing population that’s increasing its impact on the costs of public services

The role of local authority leaders

The smartness of a city or town isn’t about technology for its own sake. It’s about how tech is used as part of a wider approach, to help the city function effectively – both in its individual systems, and as an integrated whole. 

It builds on the city’s existing foundations so that leaders can set a compelling vision and follow a new and more effective path into the future. Smart cities are therefore the result of smart leadership and local authority leaders have a key leadership role to play.

So how do we go about building a smart city?

Building a smart city is a complex task – and every city is different. Luckily, one common denominator makes things much simpler: standards.

Standards contain best practice guidance and expert knowledge that ensure quality and performance, so that things work smoothly and safely in cities.

  • They let you compare solutions and choose the best one for your needs
  • They enable you to integrate solutions from different suppliers.
  • They provide valuable guidance for city life, including energyefficient buildings, intelligent transport, better waste management and much more.

As a result, standards can help eliminate risks, cut costs and make it easier for local authority leaders to grow manage their town or city effectively.