Want to Create a Smart City? This is How You Do It

Louisa Bainbridge


    What will happen if cities don’t become smarter?

    200 years ago, 2% of the world’s population was urbanised. 50 years ago it was 35% and last year it was over 50%. It shows no signs of stopping. The population in the UK is expected to balloon in the future, soon adding the equivalent of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s current population.

    With this growth comes traffic – in the last 20 years, the number of vehicles globally has doubled and so has the number of vehicle miles in the UK. Big mileage means big consequences. More cars mean more congestion, which is costing the economy over £22bn. a year. What’s more, transportation contributes one-fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gases.


    So how do we do make a smart city?

    The Space Systems and Applications event brought together experts from the European Space Agency, the UK Government, Google, Satellite Applications Catapult, Airbus, QinetiQ, and Inmarsat to see how satellite data can (and is) creating more efficient cities.
    In an ideal world, we’d start cities from scratch. But that’s impossible, which is why we need to make efficient use of the infrastructure we already have. We need to find ways of helping people get around cities in a smarter way. 

    Here’s why:

    • In 2015 for the first time there were more searches conducted on mobile devices  than on computer  
    • 50% of these mobile searches were for local info
    • 50% of these searches resulted in trips to local shop within 24 hours 
    • 34X more Google searches used phrase “near me“ in 2014 than did in 2011.

    Tackle smart cities from the ground up

    Whilst we start putting large-scale transport systems in place, it’s time to think about how we can get each individual to travel smarter. This means targetting those that search for local information on mobile devices.

    People care about their journey when travelling (not distance). They don’t care if the late night chemist is 5 miles away or 8 miles away – what they need to know is which late night chemist can be reached using public transport/car before closing time.  

    To ensure that each member of a community is making the most efficient journey, provide location-based search results by  journey time rather than mileage. Using software such as TravelTime platform means that individuals can use mobile GPS to find local information using journey times. Because it matches each person with the most efficient journey it takes context into account, such as congestion. By matching consumers to the locations they seek (shops, GPs, restaurants, hotels, jobs) we can create transport infrastructure efficiencies.

    Start searching and planning more efficiently using travel time and make your own travel time map to see where's really within reach for your future smart city. 


    Make your own travel time map

    Location intelligence

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