Given that by 2050 approximately two thirds of the world’s total population will be living in cities, we have to make cities creative, innovative and sustainable places to do business. This emphasises the importance of ‘smart cities’, and we recommend the following:
- Developing the right kinds of skills and expertise is central to unlocking opportunities for growth in most city-regions, but particularly Birmingham’s.
- This refers mainly to the skills and talent to drive up productivity and innovation in firms and regional organisations. But analytical skills and expertise that can help us improve how we monitor and shape the growth of the region are also critical. Resources and incentives to upskill the Birmingham city-region in both ways are needed. This includes steps to improve the retention of skills within the region.
- Investment is required to make large volumes of data reliable, useful and accessible. Investment is also required for real-time data to be distributed and processed in smart ways, to optimise decision-making.
- Being smart and connected inevitably means that organisations, as well as individuals, are more susceptible to cyber security attacks, so we must invest more into software and systems that make us more resilient to such attacks.
- Policymakers and the governance infrastructures they rely on must view each of the components of a smart city as a single, interrelated system, as opposed to dividing it into component parts (housing, transport, skills etc.) and focusing on each separately.
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