On 4th May 2017, boroughs throughout England hosted Mayoral Elections to instate new leaders in the first Metro Mayor election, where six regions across England appointed leaders under the newly created role of combined authority mayors. Covering multiple local authorities, mostly in urban areas, the new mayor’s key responsibility is to decide their region’s economic strategy, among others.

Overseeing their city’s main departments, Mayors are in a unique position to shape the way their region works, both now and in the future. With a growing mix of factors to consider, the main challenge for most will be understanding how best to tackle key issues affecting their cities and the appropriate solutions for long-term success. 

With fresh ideas and a completely new role to develop, now is the ideal time for mayors to evaluate priorities for city development and lay strong foundations for sustainable and innovative city initiatives. A huge consideration for most city leaders, in an evolving world of digital communication, is the development of smart city infrastructure and the best technologies to implement in order to meet the growing needs of citizens.

The task of achieving smarter, more connected cities in the UK lies with local councils. With a government drive for devolution, responsibility is now on the individual council (or group of councils) and city leaders to take the initiative when it comes to improving their city; a huge responsibility for newly appointed mayors.

There are currently over 250 smart city projects underway across 178 cities internationally and Europe is leading the way, with ‘Smart Government’ a prevailing industry sector. Insight like this forms a compelling case to ensure newly elected Mayors understand the challenges and solutions around smart city initiatives.

Over the next few weeks we will be offering our Top Tips for City Mayors in the development of smart cities, with a run-down of the key considerations required for a successful and integrated solution. From leadership to research, we will explore four key areas that help form a structured and collaborative approach.  Our Top Tips include:

Make Leadership part of your strategy – The importance of leadership and knowledge
Form a sustainable business case – From budgets to future-proof systems
Move away from Silos – Cross-departmental collaboration and strong partnerships
Keep citizens at the heart – Understanding the needs of your citizens and keeping them involved