UK cities embrace 5G, AI and IoT amid data security concerns – CityMetric

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In a recent survey conducted by Capterra, the intricate landscape of smart technologies in UK cities has been put to the public. The survey, encapsulating the perspectives of 1,058 UK residents, reveals a noteworthy surge in the adoption of smart technologies, with 5G, AI and the internet of things (IoT) emerging as prominent figures, identified by 54%, 42% and 37% of respondents, respectively. While the wheels of the smart city revolution may be in motion, data security concerns cast a shadow over the urban landscape propelled by these innovations.

Most survey respondents welcome smart city infrastructure. (Photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock)

5G assumes the lead among smart technologies, standing out as the most widely available, acknowledged by 54% of respondents. Many hold the belief that the robust and responsive nature of 5G networks holds the potential to revolutionise urban living. This potential lies in enabling smart city systems to seamlessly collect and analyse data, fostering enhanced public security, safety and communication.

[Read more: So what exactly is a smart city?]

Furthermore, respondents discern the presence of various other smart city technologies: AI (42%), IoT (37%), biometrics (35%), information communication technologies (32%), geospatial technologies (26%), blockchain (23%), and robotics (17%). These diverse technologies weave a narrative of empowerment for smart cities, ranging from predictive maintenance using AI to resource management through the intricate orchestration of IoT devices.

AI emerges as a pivotal player in the development of sustainable smart cities, with 42% of respondents already acknowledging its presence and an additional 39% expressing a yearning for increased AI integration. The versatile repertoire of AI tools, spanning from predictive analytics to the rhythmic cadence of chatbots and generative AI, presents cities and businesses with a harmonious opportunity to elevate communication, streamline operations and birth innovative solutions.

Smart city survey

The survey underscores three specific movements orchestrated by AI: predictive maintenance for infrastructure, an enhanced symphony of citizen and customer engagement through the rhythm of chatbots, and the optimisation of energy and waste management. The potential of AI to drive efficiency and innovation resonates, emphasising its significance in the evolving landscape of smart cities.

IoT stands tall as a pillar in the grand architecture of smart city ecosystems, according to the survey, with 37% of respondents having access to IoT tools in their cities, with London leading at 45%. With a noteworthy investment of £40m in local IoT and 5G innovation, IoT cements its place alongside 5G, AI, machine learning and biometrics. The data collected by IoT devices, stored in the cloud, forms a reservoir for identifying trends, improving efficiency, and steering towards sustainable practices. The integration of IoT extends its reach beyond urban spaces, resonating in connected vehicles, energy consumption analysis, and even the nuanced management of individual rooms in offices, as highlighted by Capterra.

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In the realm of security and caution, biometric technology takes its turn in the survey, noted by 35% of respondents, with an additional 36% expressing a desire for its inclusion in their cities. While biometrics offer secure access control and payment authentication, Capterra urges businesses to tread carefully, emphasising the necessity for transparency in data usage and compliance with GDPR regulations.

However, amid the symphony of technological advancement, a dissonant chord reverberates. The survey lays bare the concerns harboured by residents – the lack of data protection (62%), increased surveillance (49%) and the perceived loss of human touch (42%) form the primary challenges. In this composition of innovation, a call for regulations is clear, with 69% expressing apprehensions about cyberattacks and ransomware. A resounding 45% point to the lack of regulation and data privacy policies as the most formidable barrier to smart city development.

[Read more: How Covid-19 is shifting ‘smart city’ priorities]


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