We live in an age marked both by the importance of cities and the exploding capabilities of information technology. Today, using technology to make cities work better is emerging as a new frontier for innovation, and a signficant goal for the future of urban development.
The vision of a 'Smart City' - one which realises the full potential of technology to transform urban life - is attractive for the capital. London is also home to many of the institutions and companies who are advancing smart technologies and introducing them elsewhere.
Potential gains include creating new sources of information about the city (such as gathering information from mobile devices to provide a better picture of human activity), designing networks to link information together (such as information from Smart Grids to better adapt to changes in energy demand), and better information for citizens (such as up to the minute transport information).
From the Congestion Charge, to Oyster Cards to the Barclay's Bike Scheme, London is already using smart technologies to help run transport systems, but more could be done. Smart technologies have the potential to help reduce environmental impacts, improve government services, integrate information across boroughs and service providers and improve the public realm. So why is London not doing more?
Key challenges include the technicality of adapting technologies to an old city and its existing infrastructure, and the large scale investment in new hardware and software that would be needed to introduce systems across the whole city.
Centre for London proposes a research and seminar programme to assess the costs of introducing new smart tehcnologies against the potential gains to Londoners. Key questions include asking what a smarter London would look like, to what extent London should be leading or following innovation in this area, and how much we need an over-arching strategy over a more organic patchwork approach?
The project includes an overview of the global state of smart city technologies, an assessment of the potential of a 'smart London' and analysis on how a smarter London could take shape.