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Technology the key to the UK’s smart cities

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Cities across the UK are being encouraged to “get smart”, thanks to a new government initiative that has been launched yesterday (October 9th).

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has introduced its Smart Cities Forum, which aims to encourage urban areas to make the use of technology to enhance quality of life.

It is hoped that by adopting such methods, cities will be able to save money, reduce waste, manage transport routes more effectively and keep a tighter track of domestic water usage.

Things like electricity smart meters are already being rolled out, which allow users to monitor how they are using energy and analyse what they can do differently in order to reduce that amount.

The Smart Cities Forum has been set up to ensure that businesses in the UK do not miss out on the opportunities offered by this growing sector – which is expected to be worth $400 billion (£250 billion) by 2020.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said: “With around 80 per cent of the UK’s population living in cities, we need to ensure that they are fit for purpose in the digital age.”

He added that he hoped to achieve improvements in energy efficiency, while also saving money and reducing the carbon footprint of cities by implementing an “information economy strategy”.

Businesses can already support the idea behind the Smart Cities Forum through technology already available. For example, video conferencing can mean that firms spend less time (and emissions) travelling between offices, while mobile working and hot desks mean that companies do not have to be wasteful with office space – a move which could also save them money.

Cutting energy consumption for businesses has already been a priority across industries for some time – last month, a project in Birmingham won three quarters of a millions pounds in funding to encourage firms to come up with new ideas on how to become greener.