Devolution creates smart cities opportunity

18 Mar 2016, 11:34 am

Ben Hawes talks of the effort to harness the internet of things and the role of strategic leaders in city authorities

Devolution could provide an opportunity for digital leaders to come to the fore in the creation of smart cities, according to the future technologies lead in the Digital Economy Unit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Ben Hawes told Local Digital Futures that there is no Government template for what a smart city should look like – it would not conform with the causes of devolution and localism – and that there is a need for high ranking digital leaders to drive plans forward. But currently there are few corresponding roles in local government.

“Any £2 billion turnover company has a digital strategist at board or strategic level, but we don’t have that expectation of our cities,” he said. “My feeling is that in 15 years we will, it will be normal, and the question is how do we move that along?

“We’ve talked in government about whether this could be considered in devolution, and it’s something that we could see considered in the formation of a new combined authority. It seems to me an opportunity to start building those roles.”

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