The potential of Smart Cities to the British economy was a focus of the Chancellor's Budget Statement today in Parliament, with signifiant new investment into research and development.
Chancellor George Osborne announced £138million of funding towards a Research in Infrastructure and Cities unit. This research unit will work to ensure that the UK's infrastructure is resilient and able to respond to environmental and economic impacts. These UK Collaboratoriums will be based in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton. It is envisaged that the use of Smart City technologies will play a significant role in the work of these research units.
Driverless cars continue to get support, following the recent pilot zones across the UK, with a £100m investment in intelligent mobility research and development. This funding will also be used to consider the telecommunications requirements of making driverless cars work across the UK.
Local collaborations between cities, universities and business have also been encouraged in this area with the Government announcing a competition for funding of Smart City demonstrators as part of a wider Internet of Things programme, which is to receive £40m of investment. This Internet of Things programme will be expected to focus on health and social care technologies, as well as Smart Cities.
The Government has committed to investing into ultrafast broadband of at least 100 Mega bytes per second in nearly all UK premises. £600m will also be invested into the delivery of a change of use of 700MHz spectrum to enhance mobile broadband connectivity in the UK. This funding will clear spectrum frequency, retune broadcast transmitters to help broadcasters move to lower frequencies and free up 700MHz spectrum for 4G mobile communications, to be auctioned in the next Parliament.
Ensuring that premises are connected to sufficiently fast broadband, and that mobile spectrum is freed up and used more efficiently, will be a key enabler of Smart City technology use in cities and city regions.
A Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy will also be published to set out how the Government will support market delivery of digital communications infrastructure in the UK.
The implementation of the "GOV.UK Verify" service to allow for Government based authentication of personal identities will help people prove user identity across applications requiring interaction with central government departments.
Digital currencies will now also be included in anti-money laundering regulations to increase trust and use of e-money with additional investment into e-money research and development. Additionally, Government investment into financial technology (FinTech) will work to establish a framework for digital currency businesses.
Mechanisms for authentication of personal identity and the use of electronic money are both key enablers of Smart City technologies and will support the marketisation and consumer take up of such services.
With Smart Cities and the Internet of Things receiving head line recognition in the Chancellor's budget statement, it is clear that the UK Government recognises the importance of the Internet of Things and Smart City technologies to the British economy.