Bristol is a Top UK Smart City

Yesterday I attended the announcement of the first UK Smart Cities Index of top UK smart cities sponsored by Huawei and researched by Navigant.   A very interesting event hosted by The IET at the newly refurbished Savoy Place.  The result I wholeheartedly endorse with Bristol & London in the top quadrant of leaders.   I am pleased as I had positioned Bristol as my top smart city back in February.  Now the facts prove the sentiment.  C’Mon Bris!

Navigant Research - Top 10 UK Smart Cities - Bristol

Navigant Research – Top 10 UK Smart Cities – from Navigant Research

What else did I learn?

The market has moved on in the last 12 months thankfully.   Whereas before the focus was on standards and how that lack of standards was holding up successful smart cities;  now the discussion is on how successful leadership, vision, and joined-up roadmaps bought into by a number of local teams lead to a top ranking.    This is good.  But.

What about that ‘But’…

….the conversation was still too technology-focused.  As in.. what should I do from a tech perspective to become smart?  With a reasonable suggestion that smart lampposts were a good start.


Connected Streetlight

Connected Streetlights that can provide both sensors and connectivity for citizens are a cool thing to do.    Lampposts are already powered, owned by the local authority, already serviced, and are in places where people are.  Investing in these will be smart as lots of potential benefits can be realised.

But the important point is what to do with the data the post generates.   The benefits are varied and multiple, yet the person who pays for it will not necessarily see a decent ROI.   So smart financial and benefits realisation needs to be applied too.

To help be smart on finance, identify the outcomes and beneficiaries first.  Then create a financial model that allows those parties to collaborate, and gain benefit yet invest equitably based on the benefit they accrue.   The pool of funds will deliver the solution.  The pool of benefits will justify it! So….

Focus on the Outcome

So my message here is that the next focus area has to be on how to exploit the new information, insight, or opportunity that connecting stuff and sharing data between things, people and organisations can lead to.   It is this outcome that is critical for successful business cases.

Panel for UK Smart Cities Index

Panel on stage for the UK Smart Cities Index launch hosted by The IET

So my request is, please can we shift the conversation to the OUTCOME when talking about smart places?    This is important as it will require the most attention yet have the most impact if done right.  This is because outcomes will cut across silos and deliver the business case.  Outcomes will require new policies and procedures.  Outcomes will lead to new education, new visualisations of the data, and new key performance indicators.    Therefore, Outcomes need to be properly funded and must never be left to their own devices.   Outcomes deserve action.  Otherwise.. what is the point?

KnowNow 5 Smart City Ingredients Validated

As in a previous post where I introduced the 5 Smart City ingredients, this report again highlights why they are an appropriate mechanism for measuring how smart a place is.    The two top cities Bristol & London demonstrated all 5 elements.   Breaking down Bristol… here is why.  Bristol has embraced open data (See Bristol is Open);  Bristol has a strong leadership and a vision that is shared across the community which Bristol delivers via a dedicated team led by Steven Hilton.  Bristol is a member of the City Standards Institute (as

Future Cities Catapult

Future Cities Catapult – home of the City Standards Institute

is KnowNow Information) and is adopting Smart City standards, which embrace Interoperability and privacy by design.    Finally, due to the action on the ground being led by Knowle West Media Centre the outcomes are starting to be found, realised, and acted upon.

All round a worthy winner and an example of how to start and build upon your journey to becoming a smarter place.

Well done Bristol & London for being at the top of the pile when it comes to UK Smart Cities.

Thanks for reading, Chris.

Author bio

Chris Cooper is the chief convenor of Ideas and Innovation at KnowNow. Focusing on Smart Cities, his passion is taking client requirements and turning these into sustainable, resilient, and usable solutions. A Chartered Engineer and Enterprise Architect, Chris is one of the founders of KnowNow Information.

You can follow KnowNow on Twitter @knownowinfo @KnowNowCities