Many local governments in the UK are lacking the budget, leadership and capability to progress smart initiatives, according to new research.
Street light manufacturer Lucy Zodion, which commissioned the research, said the findings revealed that smart cities were not deemed a strategic priority for the majority of councils in the UK and identified barriers to delivery that were stifling progress in many local authorities.
It said that without a clear roadmap to delivery from the Government and a coherent, cost-effective approach, the UK risked lagging behind other countries with an inconsistent and delayed roll-out of smart cities.
As part of the research, it said that 187 councils from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had been contacted.
The research identified a significant gap between those councils leading the way on smart cities and those not yet engaged. Over 80% had little to no involvement with smart cities and few had named smart city leads or teams managing smart technology implementation.
According to the findings, the UK risks a three-tiered approach to smart cities delivery, with early-adopters who have secured funding striving ahead, leaving those without resources unable to make progress, and many more still yet to grasp the potential benefits available.
The research also highlighted five major barriers to delivery: a lack of funding, a lack of internal prioritisation, a lack of evidence, insufficient collaboration, and a general lack of confidence among council leaders.
“Local authorities hold the key to unlocking the benefits of smart connected cities, yet this research has identified fundamental barriers to a consistent and cost-effective roll-out and significant differences to the approach to smart cities across the country,” said Lucy Zodion managing director John Fox.
“It is evident that we need leadership to make smart cities work: leadership from government to provide a clearer path to delivery and leadership from local authorities to create an overarching strategy to suit individual cities.
“It is only when councils are able to make smart cities a strategic priority and work together to implement them efficiently, putting the citizen at the centre of their plans, will we be able to realise the potential of our future cities.”