HPE Blog, UK & Ireland

Smart cities: Where are they?

The modern city is changing. With 66% of the population expected to be living in cities by 2050, it's no surprise we're focusing our transformative efforts there. But if the tech's already here, what's the hold up?

Today, host Michael Bird is joined by HPE Chief Technologist Ian Henderson, Jen Hawes-Hewitt of the Smart London Board, and Kirk Bresniker, Chief Architect and Hewlett Packard Labs, to discover dichotomy of big dreams and logistical nightmares of getting smart city initiatives off the ground. We discuss the role of big data and the individual, why a siloed smart city is destined to fail, and how re-imagining cities post COVID might just bring about some much needed sustainable change.

Emerging technologies and big data: what's the hold up?

The smart city narrative has evolved from what used to be a pure technology push towards more holistic ambitions. However, data and emerging technologies continue to play an important role in serving citizen needs. Smart cities are often equated with the Internet of Things but is a sensor always the answer?

HPE Chief Technologist Ian Henderson explains which other technologies are driving innovation city projects forwards. We talk about TFL's pioneering use of tech to improve service, the great big smart city bottleneck that is data privacy, and hear a surprising story about the perils of parking sensors.

Cross-sector collaboration, from Invest Ottawa to the Smart London Board

Through her work with Invest Ottawa, Jen Hawes-Hewitt has seen the importance of creating an ecosystem where organisations of any size can get involved with emerging tech. In fact, cross-sector collaboration has become a lynchpin for successful smart cities projects.

Jen shares details of some of the recent foci of the Smart London Board, where boroughs are coming together with the likes of telcos and charities to tackle one of the more pressing issues highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic: the digital divide.

Road to net zero: reimagining the post-Covid city

The digital divide is now top of the agenda for many smart city initiatives, but it's not the only thing that's given us pause for thought. Hewlett Packard Labs Chief Architect Kirk Bresniker explains how living through the world's most unexpected AB test could finally catalyse our net-zero ambitions.

We discuss the kind of tech innovation and systems thinking required to enhance efficiency, the behavioural nudges we'll need to bring society up to speed, and why organisations need to step up to the plate to match technology with policy.

Key takeaways:

  • Data privacy remains the biggest stumbling block for smart city projects. The only solutions lies through a combination of accountability, public discourse, and trustworthy and explainable use of technology.
  • Collaboration is key. To reimagine our cities, we need buy-in from all parties of our society, from governments and private and public organizations, to the community and individuals.
  • We are at a unique moment in history, with a pandemic highlighting our inefficiencies and inequalities and with tech providing a platform for innovation. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better.

Links & Resources

Smart London Board

Invest Ottawa

Hewlett Packard Labs

The Net-Zero Challenge | World Economic Forum

Where are all those smart cities we were promised? | HPE

Artificial intelligence to help fuel London’s cycling boom | TFL

How IoT and smart city technology works | Business Insider

Traffic control and digital dolphins: 6 amazing smart city projects | HPE

Jen Hawes-Hewitt | LinkedIn

Kirk Bresniker | LinkedIn

Ian Henderson | LinkedIn

Michael Bird
Hewlett Packard Enterprise


Follow me on Twitter: @miclbrd
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About the Author


I'm a Digital Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland at HPE and I've been working in the IT industry for nearly 10 years. I'm fascinated by technology and the impact it has on organisations and us as individuals.

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