Issue 8: January 2014


By Professor Richard Kerley

Smart Cities – some positives & some questions to ponder

In focusing on ‘Smart Cities‘ let’s start with a few teaser questions.

What have the following got in common:

•    Searching for a parking space in San Francisco?

•    Buying groceries in a sort of ‘hipsterish’ supermarket in Amsterdam?

•    Taking a bus journey in Edinburgh with LRT?

All of them involve the possible use of  a smart phone app to carry out a transaction.

In SF you can search for parking spaces with the app and find out the price of the sppce you’re heading for and the period of time it’s available.  At present prices change over time depending on demand – and althgh that now extends over quite lengthy periods, you can envisage that at some point soon prices may change in real time.

In  Edinburgh it’s now possible to use  a phone app that you pre-load in order to show on entry to a bus to cover your ticket charge.  It’s an arrangement that avoids the fiddle of looking for small change to cover the correct fare.

In Amsterdam some stores and cafes are now using apps to pay for purchases, along with bank and credit cards; the explicit downside is that you can’t pay cash – no matter how trivial and low cost the purchase - a litre of milk for example.

And the unifying factor? The requirement to use technologies that you may not be comfortable with, may not like as a matter of principle or that may just not be available to you because of your financial circumstances.

Because at the heart of a Smart City is a harsh reality. It works for some of us, perhaps even a majority of us, but maybe not for the poor; maybe not for older people; maybe not for people who have learning and other difficulties. 

A lot can be found out by turning to the work of Anthony Townsend of the ‘Institute for the Future‘ based in - naturally - Palo Alto in home of the tech giants of the USA. He was interviewed recently by ‘Atlantic Cities‘.

By Professor Richard Kerley

Issue 8: January 2014

Issue 8: January 2014


Smart Ticketing And Smart Cities

Evidence shows customers engage far more with ticketing systems that work across entire networks - particularly so when led by cities at the heart of that network. Which will be the Smart City to lead the way with a multi-modal ticketing scheme bringing together the interests of the travelling public, government and commercial operators?


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