Meet the technology that is building the smart cities of the future

Today’s smart cities are transforming the way we live, work and play. But, according to Matthew Margetts, director of sales and marketing at Smarter Technologies, far from being just a 21st-century gimmick, there are significant even life-changing advantages to the implementation of smart technology in cities around the world. 

What is a smart city?

Smart cities use the power of connected technology to increase efficiencies, maximise resources and improve the quality of services and general quality of life for their residents. A smart city represents a space in which humans and technology interact in a more intelligent, connected and automated way, thanks to trends such as Big Data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cities around the world are already a lot smarter than they were a few short years ago. Initiatives can cover a range of applications, from power distribution, transport systems, street lights, and even rubbish collection.

The truth is that these changes can’t come soon enough. By 2050, the UN predicts that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. With more and more people living in cities, we can expect an increase in associated environmental, societal, and economic challenges. But by making cities smarter, we have a better chance of overcoming these challenges as well as improving key quality of life indicators for city-dwellers.

What are the benefits of smart cities? 

From conserving resources to making cities safer places to live, the benefits of smart cities are limitless. Here are some examples of some of the most common applications and advantages today:

Traffic control 

Navigating and negotiating traffic is one of the greatest challenges faced by those who live in cities. Fortunately, smart technology offers some promising solutions, such as:

  • Adjusting public transport routes in real-time according to demand
  • Intelligent traffic light systems to improve congestion

Resource efficiency 

By automating functions that were previously carried out manually, cities are able to make better use of human resources. Rather than the somewhat archaic notion of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation replacing human jobs, technology works hand-in-hand to boost process efficiency. Examples include using smart metres for utilities, read and reviewed by humans back at base, instead of relying on doorstop manual readings, or sensors attached to refuse containers to report which ones actually need to be emptied, determining a more logistically, environmentally efficient use of transport routes. Smart technology removes the guesswork, allowing resources to be deployed where they are needed most.

Energy efficiency

By monitoring energy consumption in real-time, cities are better positioned to identify wastage and energy efficiency opportunities. Smart lighting also forms part of an energy efficiency strategy, allowing lights to be adjusted or dimmed based on real-time data.


Thanks to the proliferation of connected technologies, cities are able to use real-time data to improve safety and boost incident response times. In times of a global pandemic, smart technology can also be deployed for access control and occupancy monitoring.

Greater collaboration

Smart city technology encourages city residents to become active participants in the running of their cities. For example, apps allow citizens to report local issues, connect and share resources.

By understanding just how beneficial a smart city can be, we only have to look to real life examples.


In 2020, London was once again declared the smartest city in the world, according to the seventh edition of the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2020.

This annual index analyses the level of development of 174 world cities across nine dimensions that are considered key to truly smart and sustainable cities:

  1. Economy
  2. Environment
  3. Governance
  4. Human capital
  5. International projection
  6. Mobility and transportation
  7. Social cohesion
  8. Technology
  9. Urban planning

London has held the number 1 ranking since 2017. It’s also interesting to note that the city houses more start-ups and programmers than almost any other city in the world. London is well-placed in almost all of the nine dimensions, except for social cohesion and the environment.

According to the ESE Cities in Motion Index 2020, another six cities in the UK make the top 100 list of the world’s smartest cities: 

  • Edinburgh – position 47
  • Glasgow – position 65
  • Manchester – position 71
  • Birmingham – position 73
  • Leeds – position 79
  • Nottingham – position 91
  • Liverpool – position 94

Here are some of their key initiatives and focus areas: 


The Scottish capital city has a smart city vision for the year 2050 addressing four themes:

  1. Carbon neutrality
  2. Eradicating poverty
  3. Re-imagining public space
  4. Making the city more caring

The city has already piloted many smart city-related schemes, including a Business Process Change pilot. This initiative focuses on lean thinking and customer journey mapping data to improve customer service within the city.


The Glasgow City Council has created a host of smart developments, such as:

  • Glasgow Operations Centre
  • MyGlasgow app
  • Active Travel Demonstrator apps for cycling and walking


Manchester Smarter City‘s vision is based around six key themes: Live, Work, Play, Move, Learn and Organise. The City Council is working with organisations such as the University of Manchester, Cisco, BT and Siemens on the IoT-focused demonstrator “CityVerve”, which laid the groundwork for long-term smart city planning and development.


In November 2012, Birmingham City Council released the Smart City Commission Vision to address challenges related to healthcare, employment, mobility, data access and environmental issues. Realising this vision has resulted in plans for a new tech sector, a new hospital, new university research centres and a new station and surrounds to accommodate the HS2 railway.


Leeds City Council’s Smart Leeds‘ programme identifies three priorities: health and wellbeing, housing and travel and transport. Contributing to these focus areas are initiatives such as electric vehicle fleets, Clean Air Zones, affordable Internet access in all homes and a new technology testing ground.


The Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham oversees a key smart city development in Nottingham titled ‘Smart Campus Smart Cities’. Researchers are focusing on using open data and digital technologies to enhance safety and responsiveness on the streets. Nottingham was also named the smartest city in the UK for energy in 2017.


Liverpool hosted the Global Smart City Summit as part of the 2018 International Business Festival. This event saw software solutions firm Sigma Systems announce a partnership with Liverpool City Council to help the city improve its smart city status.

What about those cities that fear getting left behind?

Creating a smart city may seem like a daunting prospect, but the truth is that it’s happening all around us already by default. Just think how ride-sharing apps have already transformed the transportation industry around the world. Smart technologies have become more accessible and more affordable, helping local councils to reinvigorate their towns and livelihoods.

A smart city doesn’t become a smart city overnight; rather, it becomes smart over time via the implementation of technology as and where it makes sense for that particular location. Partnering with a technology partner can help councils and cities navigate their transformation in an effective and sustainable way.

The author is Matthew Margetts, director of Sales and Marketing at Smarter Technologies.

About the author

Matthew Margetts

His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East and Australia.

Smarter Technologies tracks, monitors and recovers assets across the globe in real time, providing asset tracking systems to the open market and fulfilling the world’s most complex asset tracking requirements. Our services cover a vast array of business sectors, products and equipment from container or pallet tracking to military-grade devices; and can be used across a broad spectrum of industries.

As an IoT company, it also provides smart building solutions for modern businesses, offering wire-free, battery-powered and low-cost IoT smart sensor technology. Our solutions will put an end to scheduled maintenance and help businesses utilise their building’s efficiency, benefitting from real-time alerts and facilities management tools that will bring them into the 21st century.

For more information click here:

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow


Aeris to acquire IoT business from Ericsson

Posted on: December 8, 2022

Ericsson and Aeris Communications, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions based in San Jose, California, have signed an agreement for the transfer of Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator and Connected Vehicle Cloud businesses.

Read more

Telenor IoT passes milestone of 20mn SIM cards

Posted on: December 8, 2022

Telenor, the global IoT provider and telecom operator, has experienced rapid growth over the last years and ranks among the top 3 IoT operators in Europe and among the top IoT operators in the world. The positive development is due to an accelerated pace of new customers combined with a successful growth of existing customers’

Read more

The IoT Adoption Boom – Everything You Need to Know

Posted on: September 28, 2022

In an age when we seem to go through technology boom after technology boom, it’s hard to imagine one sticking out. However, IoT adoption, or the Internet of Things adoption, is leading the charge to dominate the next decade’s discussion around business IT. Below, we’ll discuss the current boom, what’s driving it, where it’s going,

Read more

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more