Despite the continued uncertainty caused by Brexit, London has been named the most “digitally ready” global city by Siemens.
This is according to the company’s Atlas of Digitalization, which measures the “readiness and potential of six major cities to embrace digitalisation and develop new ways of living, working and interacting” to give each of the six cities a digital readiness score. Data from 21 indicators has put London at the top, ahead of Buenos Aires, Dubai, Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Taipei.
The analysis takes into account areas such as innovation, greenhouse gas emissions and time spent in traffic to give the cities a Digital Potential Score, indicating where there is opportunity to grow digital capabilities to transform society and economy in the move towards smart cities.
London as a smart city
London’s thriving tech scene is one of the best in the world, with the number of tech startups increasing by 14% between 2017 and 2018. According to a recent study by Tech Nation, the UK tech industry is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, driving the city’s digital infrastructure and preparedness for a connected future.
According to Siemens, initiatives to tackle the city’s pollution problem such as London’s congestion charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone; factors such as improving mobile internet speeds and a focus on smart technologies through the Mayor of London’s ‘Smarter London Together’ have contributed to the city’s high ranking.
Siemens identified features such as smart street lights, smart meters and automated metro lines as preparing the city for further smart infrastructure in the future.
It also highlighted the willingness of London’s local authority to embrace new technology with Transport for London and the National Health Service increasingly collaborating with the tech community and universities. This has helped give the UK government a Digital Government Score of 91.921.
Siemens also identified areas for improvement, with the fact that London is now the sixth most congested city in the world cause for urgent investment in new forms of transportation.
However, for this progress to continue, the London tech industry must ensure that the industry is not negatively impacted by its ongoing skills gap post Brexit, with around 600,000 vacancies in digital technology in the UK. The UK government and tech industry must therefore look at new ways to attract tech talent so that the potential for London to become a world leading smart city is realised.
Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK believes that London is progressing towards being a smart city:
“It is tremendous that London is leading the charge in digitalisation among these global cities. In spite of all the economic uncertainty we have been facing in the UK over the last two years this study shows we are still well placed to achieve leadership globally in the fourth industrial revolution if we continue to invest, innovate and grow responsibly and sustainably.
However, Maier has warned that the UK must look further afield, as there is huge potential for growth outside London:
“However there is more to the UK economy than London and our Northern cities particularly in the Northern Powerhouse must also benefit from innovation and investment. Each city here in the UK and globally must address its own unique mix of challenges and opportunities by embracing digitalisation; the key to sustainable, economically vibrant future cities.”