The city of Glasgow is acting as a national and global blueprint to demonstrate the additional value of making cities ‘smart’. So what can we learn from Glasgow about the shape and advantages of our future cities? The author explains what’s going on.
In 2013, Glasgow won a competition gaining £24 million from Innovate UK to demonstrate how cities of the future will work. This funding is to explore innovative ways of using technology and data to make life in the city safer, smarter and more sustainable.
From integrated systems to address energy and health issues, to improving transport and mobility, Glasgow has been developing a series of initiatives to showcase the potential offered by smart city technology.
The incubator project allows UK businesses to test new solutions that can then be exported globally, as well as improving the local economy and increasing quality of life.
All of the data produced by the projects will be publicly available to allow other cities to benefit. It gives real insight into how our cities can be shaped for the future and made more resilient.
All of the data produced by the projects will be publicly available to allow other cities to benefit.
What is a smart city?
The concept of smart cities is not new, with its origins in the Smart Growth Movement of the late 1990s; it began in advocating new policies for urban planning.
More recently, the concept has become a call to action under the Future Cities banner, focusing on achieving dramatic improvements in city living through technological innovation. These include:
- Setting a city vision
- Providing the right governance structures
- Engaging all aspects of society in defining the outcomes —users, citizens, business and commerce
- Applying collaborative leadership and data sharing
- Attracting finance and private sector engagement
- Working across disciplines and city systems
- Delivering improvements that provide better services and quality of life to citizens now and for the future
Smart cities put their people at the heart of design and decision-making. Cities and citizens generate a huge amount of data which can be used in smart ways.
The Scottish Cities Alliance is a collaboration between Scotland’s seven cities and the Scottish Government. The resulting blueprint they have created is focused on activities that will maximise social, economic and environmental opportunities.
Glasgow is also involved with the biggest EU Research and Innovation project
The five aims of the programme provide an insight into what smart city technology can achieve for cities and their citizens:
1. Improving lives: testing innovations in health and wellbeing, while generating data-led insights on the links between health, economic growth and productivity.
2. Collaboration and engagement: developing a platform enabling cities and partners to freely exchange information, combine resources and track emerging projects.
3. Open data and transparency: moving to active engagement with the data community to identify and develop innovative smart city solutions.
4. Technology and innovation: attract investment to combine transport options from different providers across the country, including travel planning and payments.
5. Environmental sustainability: use a ‘circular economy’ approach to efficiently manage the flow of resources within and between cities.
Glasgow is also involved with the biggest EU Research and Innovation project. Horizon 2020 has nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014–2020). The project is taking ideas from the lab to the market.
Relating to smart cities work, Glasgow City Council is involved in the Ruggedised Project, which forms part of Horizon 2020.
The focus is on creating urban spaces powered by secure, affordable and clean energy, as well as electric transport, smart tools, connected assets and services.
It will deliver 32 separate solutions in Glasgow, Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Umeå (Sweden), which will then be adapted for use by Brno (Czech Republic), Gdańsk (Poland) and Parma (Italy).
Putting city users at the centre of design, and breaking down boundaries, allows cities to reap the benefits of smart technology
What can other cities learn from Glasgow?
So, what can other cities learn from Glasgow about becoming "smart"?
- Collaboration: by collaborating with other Scottish and European cities, Glasgow is having an impact on the global stage.
- Focus: on improving the lives of citizens for today and into the future.
- Break down the boundaries: between disciplines and systems to create a network and embrace disruption.
- Be measured and targeted: measuring success from targeted projects is vital to gain further funding and proving benefits.
- Putting city users at the centre of design, and breaking down boundaries, allows cities like Glasgow to reap the benefits of smart technology —they will thrive as a future city on a global scale.
By Amanda Clack, President RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) & Partner EY, Head of Infrastructure (Advisory).