techUK is pleased to have been able to contribute to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smart Cities report - Intelligent Leadership.
The report is the output of an inquiry undertaken by the APPG, summarises the findings and makes a series of high level recommendations for central government to consider in terms of supporting the growth of smart places in the UK.
techUK called specifically for central government to:
- Re-instate the position of Smart Cities Minister, or at least bring the responsibility under one Minister's remit. The lack of a clear point of contact and sense of singular responsibility is widely vocalised pain point for the Smart Cities sector in the UK.
- Provide leadership through the development of a coherent, overarching policy that aligns transformation efforts and supports meaningful implementation. The UK has seen this concept in action with Manchester's CityVerve, where the central government incentivised the local authority and delivery bodies to think and do differently. We love a success story, so are happy to hear that CityVerve, after recently celebrating its 2nd birthday, were able to give us a behind the scenes tour.
- Be consistently bold and ambitious in its approach to large-scale projects, tests, trials and demonstrators. The allocation of significant funding packages, such as the Urban Connected Communities Project under the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, is certainly promising. However, the Government needs to ensure that the various packages are not fragmented in a way that means the separate projects are able to lose sight of the final goal to which the funding was originally dedicated. Within this, the Government should look to implement an ongoing communications and engagement plan that is able to draw experience and lessons learned from projects, and easily share these across the testbed and demonstrator landscape. A recent white paper from the Future Cities Catapult, Smart City Demonstrators – A Global Review of Challenges and Lessons Learned, demonstrates how this can be facilitated, and the value of doing so. These plans need to extend well beyond the end date of specific projects, to enable the Government to continue to monitor the experiences of projects.
Jessica, Programme Manager for SmarterUK (Transport and Smart Cities) said that it was exciting to see that techUK's calls for stronger, more coherent leadership were being heard:
"We note that the APPG on Smart Cities has concluded that a 'coherent strategy from central government is needed to ensure a joined-up approach'. While we do not share the same emphasis on the role of an official strategy, as we feel that a genuinely more unified approach to leadership would suffice, we welcome it as a step toward more structured and united leadership."
If you would like to know more about techUK's involvement with the APPG on Smart Cities, or our smart cities and communities work, please contact Jessica Russell.