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Smart Cities, Smart Regions

The term ‘smart city’ is increasingly being used to describe everything from the creation of super new cities in fast developing economies such as China, to discrete technology infrastructure improvements in existing cities embracing one, or a combination themes such as transport, energy, digital connectivity…through to improved science, research and innovation networks.  Smart cities therefore mean different things to different people, but there are some common underlying fundamentals:


  • More efficient use of energy (by households, by business, when travelling) coupled with more sustainable generation of energy (renewables)

  • Fast ubiquitous broadband – which to businesses means enhanced competitiveness, which to households means a whole range of benefits embracing better education, access to jobs, to services, to shopping to entertainment, and which to city authorities means more efficient and better delivery of public services and better overall operation and management of the city itself (traffic, energy, disaster recovery)

  • More effective people systems i.e. science and innovation eco systems; business eco systems, community networks, voluntary networks and so on

  • Smarter more productive, entrepreneurial, innovative and creative economies.


Some conversations about smart cities embrace all of these and more, others tend to focus on one or two key themes


Value added we bring to this policy field:

  • Smart City consultancy is not so much a discipline as a multi-disciplinary exercise that to be effective, must call on a wide range of knowledge and expertise that spans all relevant policy, economic, financial and technology fields.  No one person, and no one team is likely to be able to offer all of this, but some teams, such as the Adroit team (and network), by virtue of our relatively long and wide exposure to and experience of most key policy themes, can go some way towards offering this.  We, with our network of experts, know a lot about broadband policy and impacts; we know a considerable amount about built environment energy efficiency and sustainable generation; we have been working for years in the fields of science research and innovation optimisation and associated human networks.  The founder of Adroit, Dr Steve Sheppard, was involved in the early British New Towns movement, managing several research council funded projects into the politics, economics and financial models underpinning the original garden city projects and the subsequent nationalised UK Newtowns’ programme.  We’ve been involved in modelling the needs of various proposed new communities, for jobs, housing, retail, leisure and public services.  We’ve undertaken numerous assignments concerning economic growth strategies for existing and new settlments….so although we by no means know everything, we can probably help shed additional light on many topics you may be grappling with


Specialist models and research tools developed by the Adroit team:

  • The Adroit team is in the process of developing an holistic local economic growth model that embraces many of the aspects of ‘Smart Cities’.  Our model essentially draws together and combines all of the relevant policy and programme impact models that we have developed during the course of our work in different policy fields (for Government, for industry, for intermediate agencies, in academia) – into a single unified tool that can be used by a city, city region, local authority, local enterprise partnership, to map and benchmark progress towards smart city goals; and to estimate the economic impacts of further achieving one or more Smart city goals

  • Adroit is in the process of publishing a series of Topic Reports on ‘the local geography of economic recovery and growth across the UK’.  The analysis draws on the most recent economic data published by ONS and maps, benchmarks and ranks each English LEP area (and comparative geographies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), against a number of key economic, skills and competitiveness indicators.  The Topic Papers are intended as ‘a hopefully useful’ source for all those involved in shaping local economic policy in the next few years, as the UK emerges from recession

  • Adroit is just completing development of a local economic growth toolkit, designed to identify (and quantify) the extent to which local economies can boost their competitiveness and hence enhance their growth potential, across the 8 principle policy areas relevant to local economic strategies – skills, enterprise, small business finance, sites and premises, broadband, science and technology, energy costs, transport and housing.  The tool is intended for use by those responsible for developing local economic growth policies.  The tool is designed to estimate the potential GVA uplift that can be unlocked if different combinations of policy area are tackled.

  • The above work builds on the Adroit-team’s long track record in city region and local economic policy work.  Team members, over the years, have helped develop, appraise and evaluate a variety of local and regional economic strategies, across at least half the main cities in the UK and for a variety of the local authorities.  Our most recent work in this regard was for Tyne & Wear City Region, for County Durham and for the Greater Manchester-Merseyside conurbations, in which we mapped, benchmarked and assessed strengths and growth opportunities, at industry-sector level

  • Adroit team members have also been involved in a large number of industry-specific sector studies at the regional and national levels, regarding, for example, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical technology, chemicals and speciality chemicals, microelectronics, digital technology, optics, specialist engineering, the transport sector, including ports, airports and rail, the tourism and visitor economy, the conference, entertainment and events sectors and in the agri-food sectors


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