Local authorities must better communicate the benefits of smart technology’s role in combating climate change, according to research.
A study by technology expert Milestone Systems has found that 80 per cent of Britons want their local authority to take more effective action against climate change, as 230 councils have declared a climate emergency in their regions.
Almost one in three (29 per cent) members of the public cite air pollution as a key concern when visiting their local city – significantly more than the 17 per cent who are concerned about terrorism. This is likely to be related to lower visibility and awareness about what is being done to combat climate issues such as air pollution.
Fewer than half (47 per cent) of Britons are aware that enhanced use of data and technology can help to combat climate change. Younger respondents’ awareness is significantly higher than the oldest members of society (52 per cent of those aged 18-24 versus 31 per cent of over-65s), signalling that greater communication of the benefits of smart tech on tackling climate problems to older people is needed.
Among the 20 per cent of people who are against their local authority taking more effective action against climate change, more than a third (34 per cent) believe it would result in higher taxes, while 24 per cent don’t believe climate change is an issue. Furthermore, almost a quarter (23 per cent) believe that smart technology would negatively impact the daily life of citizens, showing the sector has a reputational issue it must overcome.
Malou Toft, EMEA VP at Milestone Systems, said: “There is clearly the need for greater education around smart city technology and its potential capabilities. Sustainability and tackling climate change are key priorities for many cities currently, so there would likely be a lot of support for technology that could help to make a real difference.
“Not only would the wider implementation of smart technology help to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, but it is likely to have great support from the general public when communicated effectively.”
Just a fifth (21 per cent) of people feel that their local authority has kept them up to date with new smart city developments. Whereas 61 per cent of people said that they do not feel informed but would like to hear more about new developments, only 18 per cent of people said that they are not interested, indicating a great appetite for more frequent, or more detailed communications.
The researchers surveyed 2,000 Britons in order to "gain a deep understanding of the general public’s understanding of, and attitudes towards, smart city technology, as well as their current dissatisfactions with our urban centres".
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