Less than a quarter of UK citizens have heard of smart cities.
Posterscope surveyed more than 5,500 consumers about their opinion on smart cities and their key features, and the key findings are laid out in the infographic below, including:
- New research reveals that only 23% of people have heard of the term ‘smart city’, with young, men and tech adopters most likely to be aware
- However, initiatives that provide real life benefits such as smart water, smart energy and smart traffic control are rated highly
- Huge knowledge gap exists between what consumers know about and what they want from smart cities
- Partnerships with brands and telecoms operators could be the way to drive innovation and increase consumer awareness
The report reveals that in order to drive engagement, consumers need to be able to clearly picture the benefits of smart cities. For example, smart transport overall was rated at 71% usefulness, but when specific transport initiatives were described in more detail, people rated them more highly, with smart traffic control (87%), smart public parking (83%) and real-time personalised transport information (74%) deemed the most useful. This is because Smart transport initiatives will help solve real-life problems like that of the hidden cost of driving, such as sitting in traffic and searching for parking, which is estimated to cost UK drivers around £1,924 each in 2017.The report reveals that in order to drive engagement, consumers need to be able to clearly picture the benefits of smart cities Click To Tweet
Smart health also came high up the list of highly-rated initiatives as consumers’ recognise the future potential. The survey found that 20% of consumers currently own a wearable device, with the most popular being smart health/fitness devices (14%). However of those consumers who don’t currently own a wearable, 55% would consider buying one in the future, so it’s likely that wearables could become the norm, making smart health initiatives, such as linking wearables to GP surgery records for example, a reality for tens of millions of people.
Sitting in traffic and searching for parking cost an estimated £1,924 to each UK driver in 2017 Click To Tweet
“While initial analysis of this research suggests that the public have little awareness or understanding of the Smart City concept or initiatives, when we dig a little deeper into specific features we see a different picture emerge,” commented Nick Halas at Posterscope. “People are interested and will embrace those schemes that they see providing a real benefit or making a genuine difference to their daily lives, such as smart utilities, smart transport and, of course, smart infrastructure that provides services such as free wi-fi or power. The appetite is there, but there’s a huge knowledge gap that needs to be overcome with increased awareness and education of consumer benefits.”
The research also explored consumer attitudes to brand involvement in smart city schemes and the results reveal positive outcomes for brands that support these initiatives, which may provide an additional impetus for driving innovation in smart city initiatives. Over 60% of respondents said they would be happy to see advertising or branding funding smart city schemes, while 52% said they would think more favourably of brands that partner with organisations to provide smart city projects. Encouragingly, 42% of those interviewed also stated that they would be more likely to consider buying a product or service from a brand that contributes to the provision of a smart city scheme.
“We need to combine the commercial commitment and awareness of big name brands, the IoT capabilities of telecoms operators and the infrastructure of councils and utility providers to create initiatives which help consumers understand and embrace the benefits that a smart city framework can bring. Our Smart Bench project in 2017 saw Cancer Research UK, Strawberry Energy and Posterscope’s community division Urban Partnerships come together to provide solar-powered benches with mobile device charging ports and free Wi-Fi access to consumers who could donate £2 to the charity using contactless payment technology, Halas concludes”
Smart City initiatives will require the use of data, and this will need to be given careful consideration in any smart city scheme. 53% of respondents expect to have to provide personal information in order to buy or benefit from smart city services, while 42% said they were happy to do so in turn for services that are useful to them. Unsurprisingly, though, 79% expressed concern that brands and corporations may not use their data responsibly. This suggests that brands and scheme operators will need to work hard for consumers to feel confident in sharing their data, and ensure scheme benefits far outweigh those concerns.53% of respondents expect to have to provide personal information in order to buy or benefit from smart city services, while 42% said they were happy to do so in turn for services that are useful to them Click To Tweet
Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio and @techtrends_tech on Twitter.