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Many Brits still don't know what a smart city is, despite massive investment

smart city
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/ jamesteohart)

Although the concept of a "smart city" is now more than a decade old, the majority of Brits still don’t know what one is.

This is according to a new report from video management software company Milestone Systems, which recently polled 2,000 adults in the country to gain insight into their understanding of smart cities and their advantages.

Milestone Systems found that less than a fifth (18 percent) of people believe themselves to be “very familiar” with the concept, while a quarter (28 percent) said they think they have a “rough understanding”. 

A fifth (20 percent) had never heard the term before, a quarter (25 percent) weren’t sure, and a tenth (10 percent) didn’t know what it meant or found it confusing. 

Despite the lack of knowledge and understanding, most people have a positive attitude towards smart city tech. A quarter (24 percent) said they were “very excited” about future smart city developments, while another third (32 percent) considered it a “good thing”. Almost one in eight (13 percent) were actively against further implementation of smart city tech, Milestone Systems found.

Last year, global spending on smart city technology hit $124 billion, with at least 18 cities across the UK already having rolled out this tech.

“While this hasn’t caused any problems yet, we can see from the recent protests against the roll-out of low-traffic neighborhoods that buy-in from the general public is essential to the successful evolution of urban areas,” said Malou Toft, EMEA VP at Milestone Systems. 

“Communicating the benefits of smart technology over the coming years will help to maintain the current positive feeling towards smarter cities, and ensure there is no backlash to further digital transformation.”