The ability for information to be exchanged between different elements of a city’s infrastructure and service provision can create tremendous benefits for residents, businesses and the environment.
We know that data is a defining feature of any smart city. When we think about what is driving positive changes, we need to appreciate that it’s not just the data but, rather, what the data is telling us. Data-driven insights are what translate to changes in the way we plan services, build our cities and serve the needs of people. In techUK’s ‘Demystifying the Smart City’ report published this year, we argue that when this doesn’t happen, it’s a drain on resources and undermines trust.
Overwhelming data generation
When we see data being gathered from us but do not see any benefit, we can feel suspicious of the intention behind it. Data without insight also means we run the risk of ‘death by dashboard’ with local authorities or other public bodies overwhelmed by the level of information generated — but with little idea of what to do with it. That’s in addition to the cybersecurity risks that holding high volumes of data can expose us to.
Fortunately, these issues can be overcome. When we reframe our thinking away from data and towards insight, it gives us reason to invest and empower workforces to become both data analysts and changemakers.
Through working with schools, colleges and universities, we’re helping to ensure that core digital and analytical skills are taught as part of curriculums.
How insight improves communities
We must ensure local authorities have the resources they need to invest in people and that those people are equipped with the skills to draw insight from the data collected. It is through these insights that core services will be enabled to work smarter, more efficiently and better support the needs of the community they serve.
TechSkills, techUK’s digital skills arm, has been focusing on this for several years. Through working with schools, colleges and universities, we’re helping to ensure that core digital and analytical skills are taught as part of curriculums. It’s a case we also make to our stakeholders in the Government regularly.
Better services and capabilities
The smart city movement is continuing to gather pace. We’re always excited to hear how techUK members are working with local authorities to help build out their capabilities. Rather than a costly array of spreadsheets and dashboards, they’re dedicated to showing their customers the power of insight to completely transform services. Through our engagement with our members, we are working towards ensuring the rest of the industry can follow suit.