Smart Cities in the UK: A Look Around the Country
As we emerge from the pandemic with a focus around the ‘green recovery’ Housing Industry Leaders explores what different cities in the UK are doing to support this green recovery by harnessing data and technology to improve the lives of citizens in a connected, sustainable way.

Smart cities use data and digital technology to make better decisions and improve the quality of life of people in the community. Local councils and governments can get more comprehensive, real-time data to understand how demand patterns are changing and respond with faster and lower-cost solutions.

Throughout the United Kingdom, cities are adopting smart strategies to boost their economy following the pandemic, allowing them to ‘build back better.’

Housing Industry Leaders has taken a look around the country to see how different areas are responding to this push towards digitalisation and smart cities.

Sunderland’s Smart City Vision

Sunderland’s smart city vision is one of an engaged collective of people, places and opportunities.

Composed around three themes, the vision is centred around people and the community. These themes focus on a dynamic smart city with better jobs, a low-carbon economy and a great choice of housing.

Secondly, Sunderland will be a healthy smart city people will live healthier, independent lives for longer. Furthermore, it will be a clean and attractive city with great transport links.

Finally, it will be a vibrant city with more resilient people feeling safe in their homes and neighbourhoods.

This plan is already being delivered, with significant investment. To find out more, you can read the plan here.


Leeds, c. Phil Beard, Flickr

With nearly 800,000 residents and over 29m visitors annually, Leeds is the third-largest city in the UK. Through SMART LEEDS’ Inclusive Growth Strategy, Leeds is shaping a compassionate city that has a strong economy benefitting everyone.

Their mission is to be the ‘best city for digital’. Through the programme, they will deliver new and innovative services and solutions which improve citizens’ lives.

SMART LEEDS is the Leeds City Council-led programme created to identify and deliver new technologies and innovative solutions to help make Leeds the best place to live, work and visit.

Through the SMART LEEDS programme, the council are prioritising Health & Wellbeing, Housing Standards & Growth, Climate Emergency and Travel & Transport.

You can find out more about SMART LEEDS here.

Future City Glasgow

In 2013, Glasgow was awarded £24m of funding from Innovate UK. This funding was provided to explore innovative ways to use technology and data to make life in the city safer, smarter and more sustainable.

Glasgow has been exploring how they can use technology to make streets safer. Along with this, their Future City programmes aims to make it easier for people to get active and improve their health.

To boost sustainable practices in the city, Future City Glasgow harnesses technology to improve understanding of how we can better use, save and generate energy.

The city has unlocked hundreds of data sources and opened up access to allow smart people to do smart things. They have been involving and empowering communities, bringing people together to explore their vision for their city and inspiring future generations to make a difference.

Follow the link to learn more about Future City Glasgow.

Digital Birmingham

Covering three main sections, Technology and Place, People, and Economy, Birmingham’s digital transformation is about investing in technology to boost the city.

By pushing a smart transformation in the city, Birmingham will be able to provide greater opportunities for economic prosperity.

Birmingham, c. James F Clay, Flickr

A move towards a low-carbon economy in the area, through energy and fuel savings, will lead to improved air quality and enhanced public transport information.

Birmingham aims to develop a highly capable workforce attractive to employers, with skilled individuals able to gain employment easily. Not only this but their smart city transformation looks at the healthcare system with the aim to join it up to provide better care coordination, planning and independence.

What is clear from the plan is that Birmingham is keen to improve the lives of its community through this transformation. With plans and projects focussing on public services and interest, their Digital Birmingham ambitions will improve the quality of life in the area.

Learn more about Digital Birmingham here.

Future Peterborough

In a joint partnership with Opportunity Peterborough, the City Council is delivering The Future Peterborough programme.

Similarly to Glasgow, Peterborough has also received funding from Innovate UK and was awarded £3m. This is to test, develop and implement new concepts and ideas connecting the city in smarter ways, creating a more sustainable place to live and work in.

Earlier phases of Peterborough’s smart city programme focused on delivering four interlinked strands of activity: Smart Business, Living Data, Skills and Innovation.

Following this, Peterborough is now scaling up these innovative ideas. The city is taking experiences and lessons learnt from the demonstration projects and embedding them in the way they operate.

The Future Peterborough approach is built upon intelligence, listening to the people living in the city, smart leadership and circular economy principles.

Under this approach, projects are either people-focused, intelligence-driven, centred on smart leadership or look at the idea of a circular city.

You can find out more about Future Peterborough here.