What is a smart city?

Our cities and the way they operate is evolving. While the overarching purpose of transport, construction and other man-made infrastructures remains the same they have started to develop to become more connected, intelligent and data-driven. As we look towards a 'smarter' future, we must consider what is a smart city, as well as what they will look like and how they will change the way we interact with our environment.

Technology has the power to change key aspects of how we travel, how we work and, ultimately, how we live our lives. As our cities continue to develop it is essential to understand how these changes may have an impact on the private and public sectors as well as the citizens and their governments.

What makes a smart city?

Smart cities use data and technology to improve processes and create efficiencies. By implementing technology such as IoT and autonomy, the cities are often able to benefit from improved economic development, a better quality of life for their citizens and more efficient energy resource management.

How will smart cities be paid for?

Adequate funding and financing have long been a challenge for the development, operation and maintenance of public transport infrastructure.

Today, new technologies, changing working practices and concerns for the environment are disrupting how and why we move around and the modes of transport we choose to use. As a result, major transport schemes exist in a world where they compete against each other (and other infrastructure types) for investment.

Now, more than ever, opportunities exist to develop transport infrastructure that embraces emerging technologies, maximises public benefit and drives economic growth in our towns and cities. But one question remains the same: where will the money come from?

As the global trend toward urbanisation continues, and demand for efficient, flexible and sustainable modes of transport grows, so does competition for funding and finance. And, it is not just competition for capital which must be considered. Our traditional models of financing transport infrastructure are changing too, with global cities such as London, New York, Paris and Toronto recently experiencing fluctuations and even decline in ridership and farebox revenue.

What has emerged is an overwhelming sense that now is the moment to radically rethink funding and financing models to cope with a disruptive future. Bringing together insights from leading figures in industry, our latest report 'Rethinking transport finance and funding: where will the money come from?' addresses how we finance and fund future infrastructure, to build and create the sorts of cities imagined for coming generations.

Download our Rethinking Transport Finance and Funding report

How will smart technology change cities?

Our cities are facing an urgent set of challenges as a number of social, technological, economic, environmental and political impacts place further stress on already straining systems. As new business models and technologies try and solve these challenges, uncertainties are emerging as we consider how they will impact urban environments long term.

Communication-based technologies are enabling new and different approaches to mobility for both people and goods. In our report, Rethinking Urban Mobility: Three questions that will shape the future of transport in cities, produced in collaboration with the London Transport Museum, Arup and Thales UK, we explore the challenges and opportunities facing our cities' transportation and infrastructure systems. The report highlights the role that our cities should take in shaping change and recommendations for the future as we look ahead and consider what is a smart city and what strategic policies are needed to make them a reality.

Download our Rethinking Urban Mobility report

How has technology changed transportation in cities?

Digital technology has a growing influence on citizens' transport options travel choices, driving change and development.

The rise in the development of new vehicle technologies is leading to cleaner, connected and smart transport that is integrated with the constantly evolving urban and rural environment. Travel has become more informed and immediate through the use of technology and the capacity for further development in transport to build truly smart cities appears limitless.

While it is clear that smart travel that has potential it still has its challenges to overcome. Our report, in collaboration with the London Transport Museum, PwC and Thales, explores the the impact that technology has on the journeys we make and how we make them.

Considering the like of autonomous vehicles, cyber security and new financing methods, Rethinking Smart Futures: Focussed on people, enabled by transport, powered by technology brings together the thoughts of more than 60 decision makers from across the transport industry to consider the challenges and opportunities faced by cities, transport and infrastructure.

Download our Rethinking Smart Futures report

How can Gowling WLG help?

Our experts specialising in smart cities and smart futures work across a broad range of sectors and services, with experience in handling large and complex projects, taking care with political and legislative constraints.

Giles Clifford - Partner, Head of Rail

Giles is a highly experienced partner with more than 20 years' experience in helping clients to understand and manage risks, protect their interests and achieve their goals in the delivery of complex infrastructure and real estate development projects.

Matt Hervey - Director and Chair of the Automotive Technology team

Matt is a trusted intellectual property adviser, especially for clients with complex patent disputes. Matt has a passion for all things technological. He enjoys working with Tech companies of all sizes from start-ups to multi-nationals.

Sarah Rock - Senior Associate

Sarah advises clients in relation to various construction matters and specialises in advice relating to digital construction and Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Jane Fielding - Partner, Head of Employment, Labour & Equalities

Jane Fielding helps clients to find commercial solutions to workforce issues, from re-structuring through to individual disputes, Jane's creative and open-minded approach allows her to offer clients the most appropriate solution, not always purely legal. Jane advises businesses on smart working and the use of technology to up skill employees and introduce agility.

Legal expertise and services for the development of smart city and infrastructure projects

Contact us

If you would like to talk to anyone from Gowling WLG regarding cities or the future of urban infrastructure, please contact Giles Clifford.

Rethinking transport finance and funding: where will the money come from?

'Rethinking transport finance and funding: where will the money come from?' explores how we finance and fund future infrastructure, to build and create the cities imagined for coming generations.

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