A strategy setting out the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s aim of becoming a ‘Smart City’ has been launched at the Digital Greenwich hub, in the heart of the borough.
Its Smart City Strategy sets out a future vision for the borough in which a modern infrastructure with a high value, high skilled economy is created, ensuring “smarter” delivery of services to residents.
Those behind the vision say that, in the wake of the financial crisis and the transformation of services in the private sector, cities around the world must continually look to deliver better services, with significantly reduced budgets, to meet higher citizen expectations. Confronted with a range of challenges, they say, including demographic change, the rising cost of healthcare, traffic congestion and high levels of emissions, as well as the need to improve employment prospects and the quality of work in the face of technical change, innovative local authorities must look to the future to see how they can operate smarter and quicker.
Royal Greenwich says it has played an important role in shaping thinking in how innovation can be harnessed to improve cities, particularly in the development of national and international standards. The Council is committed to adopting such “smart city” approaches to cope with the many challenges ahead and to create new opportunities for business and local communities. The strategy sets out how the Council proposes to do that, and underpins and complements the Council’s existing strategies and vision for the borough.
The strategy is focussing on four key areas which the organisers will ensure transformational change:
- Transforming neighbourhoods and communities: with a 33 per cent increase in population, the radical change in shopping habits and the possibility of autonomous vehicles in urban environments, neighbourhoods will be transformed over the coming years. The strategy is fundamentally grounded in the needs of citizens and their communities;
- Transforming infrastructure: developing a strategy to deliver ultra-fast broadband to all parts of the borough; working with the Digital Built Britain Task Force to develop the council’s application of Building Information Modeling in borough developments; improving understanding of the built environment and how it operates;
- Transforming public services: reviewing the structure of services and piloting new innovative approaches for the benefit of citizens and the public purse;
- Transforming the Greenwich economy: attracting new future-thinking companies to the borough, creating new jobs for local people, helping to sustain and drive the local economy.
Cllr Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “I’m immensely proud of the transformational work that we are doing at the moment. In the face of the rapid increase in the borough’s population and in the face of globalization and technological change, we have to invest in the future and face these challenges head on, right now. We have to invest in a modern built environment, in globally competitive connectivity, in the skills of our people, and in the transformation of our own public services to meet the needs of all our citizens, young and old.
“The Smart City Strategy is our blueprint to take Royal Greenwich into the future. This comprehensive approach to delivering a smarter borough is not an option – it is a necessity. There is no alternative.”
Dr Mike Short CBE, VP -Telefonica and Smart London Board, said: “These are exciting times in Greenwich. This is an ambitious strategy, as it needs to be. I think business will sit up and take notice, and see that Greenwich is building on its tradition of being at the heart of innovation and a gateway to discovery – and a great place to be.”
The Council aims to deliver resource-efficient, low-carbon, healthy and liveable neighbourhoods, where citizens can enjoy improved social and economic opportunities, while feeling part of the community and part of the decision making processes affecting the environments and communities they live in – where services are delivered efficiently and reflect the needs and aspirations of citizens.
As well as forging new local partnerships, the Royal Borough is also becoming known as a centre of innovation internationally, working with other eminent Smart Cities, such as Santander in Spain, Bordeaux, Milan, Lisbon and Riga.