IBM sets out Smart Cities solution for urbanisation pressures

IBM has unveiled a vision of the future for Britain's cities in a series of short films on the theme Cities: Our journey to a smarter future.

Cities are now faced with unprecedented growth and challenges to their economic and social development. In the UK, around 80 per cent of the population already lives in urban areas, compared to a world average of just over 50 per cent, which is expected to increase to 70 per cent by 2050. With an increasing trend toward city living, UK urban leaders are looking at new ways to create vital, sustainable cities.

The six films highlight some of the economic and infrastructure challenges UK cities face in areas including transport, energy, education and healthcare. Featuring interviews from senior leaders in the public and private sector, alongside IBM technology and business specialists, they highlight the opportunities that exist to transform the way cities function through the use of technology.

Jamie Houghton, IBM global leader for intelligent transport systems, argues that investment in new infrastructure must be coupled with making better use of existing assets. "The provision of smarter travel infrastructure is a win-win for the transport authority and the customer," he says. Network optimisation takes cost out of the provisioning of transport, while the customer gets easier ways of paying - perhaps with a single smart card for public transport, congestion charging and parking - and better real-time travel information.

Senior urban planning leaders from IBM, The Carbon Trust, NHS, Centre for Cities, Opportunity Peterborough, Energy Technologies Institute and Sunderland City Council have contributed to the films.

"Helping our cities become smarter is essential to the UK's future. Unprecedented urbanisation is putting a huge strain on city resources and placing greater demands on the infrastructure that delivers our vital services, said Fraser Davidson, Smarter Cities Lead, IBM UK&I. "We're working to help cities not only realise their sustainability ambitions but also to enable them to improve the lives of people resident in UK cities."

To view the six short films, visit


Jamie Houghton is presenting the IET's Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture in London on Thursday 29 April, on the theme "Smarter planet: smarter transport". For more information or to register, go to

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