Reading: Challenger city is rated in top 20 ‘smart’ cities in UK

Reading is ranked among the UK’s top 20 leading ‘smart cities’ according to the second UK Smart Cities Index, commissioned by Huawei UK. 

Smart cities successfully harness technological developments to deliver real benefits for their local communities in areas such as transport, energy, healthcare and communication. The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index rankings identify Reading as a key challenger city which has laid the foundations to become a ‘smart city’. Using technology to tackle urban challenges, Reading is expected to make major strides over the coming year.

The Index was calculated by an in-depth analysis of 10 criteria within the cities’ strategy and execution, covering areas such as their vision, digital innovation, implementation record, environmental impact and community reach.

The report highlighted three leading projects in particular, which demonstrates Reading’s potential and progress:

  • The launch of the Reading 2050 Vision by Reading UK, University of Reading and Barton Willmore with the support of Reading Borough Council
  • The Thames Valley Low Carbon Project led by SSE and the University of Reading, which includes projects such as smart grids
  • Real Times Open Data Information System – Reading Borough Council has made its transport data available to tech developers

Sir Andrew Cahn, Huawei UK Board, said: “The successful cities of the future are going to be smart cities. It’s clear from this report that cities across the UK have made considerable progress over the last year, developing and implementing strategies to improve the delivery of public services and the urban environment.

“While Bristol and London are named as “leaders”, we’re seeing innovation across the country. Reading’s ranking as a challenger city recognises successful smart initiatives such as its Real-Time Open Data Information System, and the recent launch of Reading’s 2050 vision. The city also benefits from an advantageous geographical position situated in the heart of the UK’s technology sector. Reading has set out clear objectives to make it a smart and sustainable city by 2050 and we look forward to seeing Reading deliver on this vision over the coming years.”

Nigel Horton-Baker, executive director, Reading UK, said: “Reading has been recognised as a leading UK smart city, following in the footsteps of major pioneer cities. As is evident in the recently published Reading 2050 Vision, we have strong ambitions to create a smart and sustainable future for Reading and the Huawei Index provides excellent learning and sharing opportunities with leaders in the field. 

“Reading has long been the premier location for international technology business in the UK and is now growing its own entrepreneurs and high growth start-ups in the knowledge economy. We hope to harness this creativity to make Reading one of the foremost smart cities in the coming few years.”

The Reading 2050 Vision was launched on October 18. The Vision outlines an ambitious, smart and sustainable future for Reading, putting green technology, culture and diversity and Reading’s rivers and parks at the heart of its future development. Led by Reading UK, Barton Willmore and the University of Reading, a series of workshops, exhibitions and consultations helped shape the vision, from which three core themes, underpinned by Reading’s existing strengths and natural assets, emerged:

  • Green Tech City – building on Reading’s established technological business base to ensure Reading performs strongly in a globally competitive economy.
  • A City of Rivers and Parks – embracing Reading’s waterways and green spaces to improve the quality of life and providing a vital lung for the city
  • A City of Culture and Diversity – Reading’s rich heritage and strong cultural base becomes a fundamental part of the city’s make-up.

Professor Tim Dixon, University of Reading, said: “This is a great testament to the foundations that stakeholders are putting in place to ensure Reading becomes a smart and sustainable city of the future. Experimental cities like Reading are an ideal testing ground for low carbon and green technologies. As further activities and R & D develop around the Internet of Things and smart and sustainable thinking, we intend to create an urban innovation ecosystem, or ‘living lab’, in Reading for testing new ideas and projects which embrace innovative ways of thinking.”

In Smart Cities UK 2017, Bristol and London were named as ‘leaders’, with the south west city taking the top spot. The report also names 12 ‘contender’ cities which are: Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Nottingham, Peterborough, Cambridge, Oxford, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Newcastle.