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Why ICT Could Hold The Key To A City’s Future Success

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Ericsson report puts London in second place worldwide in terms of ICT maturity, just behind Stockholm

Cities around the world are helping facilitate a better life for their inhabitants by embracing more and more connected and collaborative technology, a new report has found.

The latest Ericsson Connected Cities Index has revealed a major surge in the level of ICT ‘maturity’ in some of the biggest cities across the continents as the world becomes ever more connected.

This maturity is calculated based on how a city makes use of ICT investments in economic, social and environmental development – what Ericsson calls the “triple bottom line” effect. The report found that cities with a low ICT maturity tend to be improving their ICT maturity faster than high performing cities, indicating a catch-up effect.

These cities, which tend to be in poorer areas, are hugely benefitting from the increasing accessability of technology throughout the world. This is particularly true for smartphones and other mobile devices, which are having a dramatic effect on the lives of people in developing countries.

City of London (c) QQ7, Shutterstock 2013Cosmopolitan

The fifth edition of the report, which covered 40 cities across the world (nine more than last year) was once again topped by Ericsson’s Swedish home city of Stockholm, but London maintained its second place overall, with Paris, Singapore and Copenhagen rounding out the top five.

London scored highly across Ericsson’s criteria, gaining particular praise for its large number of Wi-Fi hotspots and international broadband capacity. The capital was recently named one of Europe’s top three ICT hubs by the European Commission, and was also recognised for its range of open-data resources.

“Today, we are seeing so many new opportunities which are more or less provided by ICT,” said Monika Byléhn, networked society evangelist and driver of ‘City Life’ at Ericsson. “The way that cities are lead is increasingly built on ICT to provide efficiency and innovation, in basically all areas of a city, from health care to transport to utilities.”

New to this year’s report were a series of predictions from Ericsson concerning creating a sustainable urban future. This includes the growth of ‘people power’, as greater ICT deployment helps remove the borders between people and their government, making it easier for them to be heard and providing what Ericsson says is “bottom-up” investment in the future of their city.

But the report also predicts that the growth in collaborative and sharing services, including apps like Airbnb and Blablacar, will change the very nature of value and wealth creation, as people begin to construct their own values. This will gradually trickle up to business level, as companies see the value of providing services that can be shared or appropriated on a wider scale.

London is by far the only UK city to see the benefits of connected technology, however. Earlier this year, Milton Keynes announced it was constructing a city-wide Internet of Things network. The scheme, backed by Neul and BT, was aimed at attracting investment to the area and proving the viability of M2M applications and infrastructure in a real-life environment.

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