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Singapore, London and Barcelona named as the world’s best smart cities

A report conducted by Phillips Lighting has named Singapore, London and Barcelona as the world’s best smart cities. The comprehensive study examined the drivers and hurdles presented by local authorities that are considering implementing smart city programs into their respective cities.

Interestingly, the report indicates the potential opportunities and rewards from implementing smart city programs. It highlighted Barcelona as an example of this, claiming that the Catalan city has created 47,000 new jobs through the introduction and integration of new technologies such as AI and Internet of Things.

In addition to this, the report said that Barcelona saved an estimated €42.5m on water and generated €36.5m per-year from its smart parking systems which are dotted all over the city.

However, the report did stress that 1 in 10 local authority representatives have stated that they did not have the capacity to look at developing smart city programs, although it has also been pointed out that some authorities are extremely restricted in pursuing smart city projects and programs by budgetary constraints, poor infrastructure and a lack of leadership on both short-term planning and implementation.

Philips has overseen a number of smart city projects in the US and declared that realizing the benefits of smart cities is essential. It has been projected that cities consume 70% of the world’s energy and it has been predicted that by 2050 urban areas are set to be home to 6.5bn people worldwide. In order for cities to remain fit for purpose as the demand on occupancy and energy increases, local authorities must develop a blueprint which ensures they address, resolve and tackle difficult areas including technology, communications, data security and energy usage.

Segment Manager at Philips Lighting, Jacques Letzelter acknowledged that city authorities were working with a limited budget in many circumstances, but stressed that emerging technologies possess the potential to completely transform the lives of its citizens and that has to be pursued.

He said, "City authorities face complex and challenging choices concerning infrastructure, balancing the need to maintain existing services while investing in improvements, managing population growth and enhancing sustainability - all within tight budget constraints. New technologies can already transform the way cities deliver, operate and maintain public amenities, from lighting and transportation to connectivity and health services. Often, however, adoption is slowed by the division of work and the selection of technology that doesn’t easily work together or integrate with other city services.

Fortunately, there are many successful examples of smart city projects that prove these obstacles can be overcome, with the right collaborative approach and integration technologies. These projects show that smart cities can bring about better lives and enhanced safety for their citizens."

The report also highlighted how important the continued development of Internet of Things services will play in delivering successful smart cities. Revolutionizing the collection of data (35 per cent), revolutionizing communication for accurate service delivery (15 per cent) and managing the strain on urban resources (13 per cent) were ranked as the top three areas where the IoT would be most effective in cities.

The top three smart cities were all noted for very different strengths in their smart city programs. Singapore which is also attempting to become the world’s first Smart Nation drew acclaim for its forward-thinking infrastructure including its buildings, transportation and use of underground space. London was commended for its focus on communities when implementing technology, whilst Barcelona was noted for its top-level government driving change.

Andreas Knobloch, Alliance Specialist at Philips Lighting, explained: "Collaboration is critical. For cities to truly benefit from the potential that smart cities offer, a change in mindset is required where local authorities plan longer and across multiple departments. We must think of city-wide systems as one ecosystem working together. At the same time, we all - technologists, local governments, businesses, environmentalists and the general public - must help to build the investment case to enable cities to successfully implement smart city programs."