Smart Cities Council expands into Europe

  • November 23, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson
Andrea Winders

Washington DC-based Smart Cities Council is expanding into Europe starting with operations in Manchester, UK.

Smart Cities Council has operations across North America, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Asean region, and in the coming months is expanding its European presence to include Poland, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Founded 11 years ago, Smart Cities Council brings together government, industry, academia, philanthropy and charity to create action and impact around the challenges and opportunities facing cities and communities.

The expansion of smart from place and infrastructure in the UK will include people, safety, beautification, enablement, sustainability resilience, equity and inclusion.

Under the banner Everyone, Smart Cities Council is a movement that creates opportunities for change through engagement, education, projects and events centred around impact-focused task forces tackling local and global issues such as energy, the application of digital-twin technology, cyber security, wellbeing, placemaking, disadvantaged urban communities and more.

The organisation already counts Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ernst & Young, ENE.Hub, Aurecon and GHD among its more than 100 international members. In the UK, high profile organisations, such as global engineering services and digital infrastructure giant Valmont, life safety technology company Clevertronics, smart buildings dashboard provider Bueno Systems and digital transformation software innovator Tr3dent, are foundation members, with the University of Lancaster as supporting academic partner.

Andrea Winders, a creative Manchester-based entrepreneur and expert in technology, infrastructure and place, has been appointed as the executive director of Smart Cities Council UK to manage the organisation’s growth and drive objectives for the expansion of the smart agenda throughout the country.

Winders has a career that crosses commercial and local government sectors at senior levels, with an understanding of the need for sustainable and community-focused technology.

“I am really proud to lead Smart Cities Council and the Everyone initiative in the UK and be part of shaping the future of smart, beyond infrastructure and hardware into shared intelligence for the good of people, places and products,” she said. “In our view smart is not just for cities, it is for everyone, everywhere, connecting health, wellness, transport, energy, sea, air, parking and other everyday services without limitation, to improve lives and living for the majority, who by the way do not live in cities.”

She said there was a common misconception that smart cities were just about technology, data and infrastructure.

“Real smart is far more than this,” she said.

For example, one of the first impact projects that Smart Cities Council UK is launching as part of its Everyone initiative has already started to work on is the present crisis in dentistry.

“Definitely not a city, but most definitely smart,” she said. “And although infrastructure does have a role in smart cities, it is far more important that the outputs are about people and put their needs first, not the other way around, which tends to be the case.”

A recent report about connected places in the UK, prepared for DCMS by Frontier Economics, indicated that the smart cities market size is significant, with approximately 37,000 employees and a £3.6bn GVA in 2020, but over 87% of the total market is infrastructure, transport and built environment. Everyone by Smart Cities Council aims to expand the market further to include opportunities and encourage solutions for problems experienced by people and places using technology and services.

The report also identified a lack of interoperability between technologies and devices creating a large barrier to connecting places and integration of services, another problem the Everyone initiative wants to decipher, discuss and redress.

“For more and more companies RoI now means return on impact,” said Corey Gray, CEO of Smart Cities Council. “As long-time protagonists in this space two things have become clear over time. First, that there is a big difference between a smart city and a city that is smart. Second, smart cities are about people and place, not just tech and data. Successful smart cities and communities are inevitably human-centric, data-driven and sometimes technology-enabled, for the benefit of everyone. While commentary has a place, we want to get out of the commentary box and on the pitch playing, and we invite everyone to join us. There are no competitors when it comes to making the world a better place for future generations.”

Winders added: “This is an opportunity for businesses, government, academia, and charity and philanthropy to work together in a unique and entrepreneurial forum to apply smart thinking and actions for better or innovative outcomes. In 2023 we will be tackling subjects like energy systems, cyber security, and extending smart into rural or coastal locations, and encourage organisations to make a difference with us.”