Our cities are home to millions of people and are places where incredible innovation and creativity can thrive. To make the most of this opportunity, and to maximise the benefits for residents and local businesses, cities have to be ready to embrace the digital world.
The Edinburgh Festivals are one of the world’s great city celebrations, as each year performers, visitors and locals alike are immersed in the best arts, culture and comedy on the planet. But welcoming the world can be challenging: summer here has more than its fair share of liquid sunshine, and in years gone by I’ve spent many an hour trying and failing to hail a cab at the end of an evening.
Helping people get from A to B easily and affordably is just one of the many challenges that cities and city regions need to solve if they want to guarantee great quality of life for residents and a productive environment for local businesses. And in this and many other domains – from public service reform to protecting the environment – modern technology and the internet of things has a huge role to play.
The smart city agenda is moving quickly, and many of the things that seemed like science fiction only a few years ago are now a reality in places around the world. Here are three examples of how smart technologies are bringing benefits that are entirely within the grasp of policymakers in the UK:
It’s encouraging to see cities across the UK starting to engage with these sorts of discussions, and recognising that active steps need to be taken if those in positions of power are serious about the long term potential of the cities they care for. Get this right, and a happier, more productive and more sustainable future lies ahead.
Here in Edinburgh the times are definitely changing. This August the inaugural Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival introduced VR and gaming to the crowds gathered on George Street. And at the end of another long night, a tap of a button in the Uber app was all it took to get me home.