Leeds Business Week: Could Leeds become the new Seoul or Singapore?

October 21, 2014

Picture courtesy of Becky Joy Photography

By Scott Anderson 

A range of Leeds city’s stakeholders came together at the Royal Armouries last week to discuss the prospect of Leeds becoming a “smart city.”

The four expert panelists sat in front of an audience to discuss how the city could build better relationships and move forward together to improve Leeds.

Examples of smart cities across the world range from London and Dublin to Rio di Janeiro and Barcelona.The market is estimated to be worth over $408bn worldwide by 2020.

Panelist Dr. Adam Beaumont (CEO of aql) thinks Leeds still has a lot more work to do. He said: “We need to provide reliable connectivity services and integrate mobile messaging. We need to foster regional interests and show initiative to channel communication. Collaboration of the public and private sector is vital.”

Paul Connell, who is founding partner at Actuated Futures, feels technology is at the forefront of Leeds’ ambitions. He said: “We are all connected. Most people now have a smart phone. We have smart citizens but we need smart institutions in our cities. I am optimistic about Leeds becoming a smart city.”

His optimism was shared with fellow panelist Ian Jones, who is the senior consultant in the Smart Cities Unit at Leeds City Council. A smart city creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas such as economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government, and Ian Jones claims Leeds is capable of achieving the status.

“Is Leeds a smart city? Not yet,” he said, “but we are getting there. We are trying to do more as a city and we have big ambitions.”

Throughout the event, the four panelists spoke of high ambition for Leeds, and that confidence was echoed by Ian Jones’ statement that he wants Leeds to be mentioned “in the same sentence as Singapore and Seoul.”

The Smart Cities conference was chaired by Dr Simon Jones of Leeds Beckett University (picture courtesy of Becky Joy Photography)

The Smart Cities conference was chaired by Dr Simon Jones of Leeds Beckett University (picture courtesy of Becky Joy Photography)

The positive approach from the four panelists showed that they feel confidence in Leeds one day gaining smart city status by coming together to implement a range of social, economic and environmental factors.

Dr Adam Beaumont added: “The ambition should be affordable housing and reliable transportation. That’s what makes a great city.” The promise of a smart city is beneficial to all that live here. It is about the collaboration of fierce competitors coming together to share a common goal. That’s why we’re here.”

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