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Feb 15, 2019

In typical ‘smart city’ discussions, agreed our panel, most of the people around the table are from organisations and represent sectors like education, energy, retail, and transport, and in these discussions, people are reduced to personas like ‘commuter’ or ‘consumer’.

But in real life citizens inhabit several personas and there is need for policy-makers to take a more user-centric and joined up approach for the benefits of the smart life – that technology now enables – to be realised (and to be perceived by citizens, including the person providing your taxi ride).

Without this joining up there is a danger that we are sleepwalking into a future none of us desire. And the speed of its arrival may take up by surprise. Compare a photo of a London street in the 1880 with one just 40 years later, by which time petrol driven vehicles had completely replaced horse-drawn equivalents. We are in a period of similarly revolutionary technological change with huge implications for infrastructure planning and the daily lives of citizens.

Local authorities are playing catch up with technology and are yet to fully understand that their effectiveness will be determined by their ability to use, and share wisely, the data they generate.