Almost 70% of the UK public (68%) do not know what a smart city is or the benefits it can bring, according to new research.

Despite widespread global investment in the digital transformation of public spaces and the smart city concept, a study of 1,000 people, conducted by ATG Access, found that consumer awareness in the UK is low because of a lack of information available. And this could be having an impact on mass adoption in the UK.

The research found that over a quarter (26%) of people find the prospect of smart cities “worrying” due to a lack of available information on the topic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the digitally-native 18-24 age bracket which harbour the least amount of worry in this regard, with just over a third (35%) expressing trepidation, compared to 52% in the 45-54 age bracket.

Almost a quarter (24%) of Brits expressed scepticism around the benefits smarter cities would provide, demonstrating a need for greater access to reliable educational resources around the topic, which clearly explain how smarter cities can save people time, money and provide peace of mind.

The research was conducted as part of ATG’s ‘Smart cities: Turning the dream into a reality’ report, which outlines the urbanisation problems that could be solved through the adoption of specific smart city concepts, such as traffic, crime and emergency incident response. It explores consumer attitudes and perceptions towards smart cities, and ways to overcome current barriers to adoption in the UK.

Gavin Hepburn, managing director at ATG Access, said: “As technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things become more commonplace, governments and urban decision-makers are quickly realising the potential to incorporate this technology into creating safer, smarter cities. If implemented correctly, smart cities could improve living standards, reduce traffic, keep people safe and improve the environment.

“From our research, it is clear that educating the public on how smart cities can help solve many of the everyday issues inherent to urban life, such as safety risks, traffic congestion and a lack of security, will be key to solving these reservations.

“Internationally, Singapore is perhaps the most famous example of a smart city success story. Visitors to the city-state have often reported that they feel like they’re “living in the future” due to the widely-modernised public services. The key to this early success has been the high amount of senior buy-in, in the form of Singapore’s government-backed “Smart Nation” project. This government backing has legitimised the smart city concept on a global scale and provides a shining example for the UK to follow.”