A Vodafone study, conducted by pollsters ComRes, has suggested that local government still remains unaware, by and large, of the opportunity presented by smart city technology, and how it can be used to deliver better and more cost-efficient public services.
The survey, which questioned 1,624 UK adults and 629 councillors, and was carried out between December 2014 and March 2015, revealed that smart in-building energy management systems and street lighting alone could save local councils across the country 402.3m.
It said 67% of urban councillors were not aware of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and how best to take advantage of it, even though 77% of people living in urban areas said they would support their councils decision to invest in the internet of things (IoT) to improve public services.
The gap in understanding, said Vodafone, would explain why smart city technology has not yet been widely deployed beyond a few test beds in tech-heavy locales such as Bristol and Milton Keynes to improve lighting, rubbish collection, traffic, public transport management and so on.
Councillors did agree, however, that technology investment was important in delivering better public services, which may augur well for the future. Further, with the provisional local government finance settlement meaning that councils in England will have to take out 8bn in 2015, the pressure to address savings will continue to grow.
The 400m worth of savings predicted from energy-efficient smart buildings and street lighting would account for 5% of that 8bn, without taking into account other services.
Vodafones findings echo those of a Gartner report from March 2015, which said that shorter and more competitive buying cycles, as well as a lack of red tape, would help to ensure that the private sector was able to do more with the IoT in the short-term future, with most smart city investment coming around smart home and commercial building technology.
The operators own experience backs up Gartners earlier findings. When Vodafone deployed smart monitoring systems at 200 of its sites, it reported an average saving of 29% in energy costs at each location.
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