Consumers Reveal Positive Perceptions of Smart Cities; Education Needed To Get Citizens on Board

Posted by on October 3, 2017

Do consumers really know or understand what is meant by a Smart City? Do they recognize how living in a Smart City can transform their lives for the better? We were curious, and that’s what we set out to discover in a Smart City Consumer Research study we conducted in collaboration with our colleagues at Power Over Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Advanced Grid Research.

Today, at Smart Cities Week, we unveiled our findings. More than 500 people from across the U.S. participated, ranging from ages 18 to 65+ and in urban areas and cities with populations of less than 1,000 to upwards of more than 1,000,000. Some of the results were quite surprising, while others aligned with Silver Spring’s experience in educating consumers when bringing new applications to market, such as networked smart meters. Overall, the study was very positive and promising for cities that are looking to make their cities smart.I’ve noted some of the interesting findings below:

I’ve noted some of the interesting findings below:

  • About 80% of the respondents had little to no knowledge about Smart Cities before the survey
  • When educated about the benefits of Smart Cities, 75% of those respondents indicated smart city technology would have a positive impact on their lives, only 3% said negative impact.
    • Top two benefits cited: Reducing pollution and increasing public safety
    • Top two concerns cited: Cost and privacy
  • 65% of participants are interested in living with smart city technology
  • Smart street lights are the most well-known smart city application; public safety is considered the most important benefit of smart street lights
  • 50% of participants expect smart city technology to directly impact their daily life within the next 0 to 3 years

The study demonstrates the importance of consumer education for Smart City initiatives. Initially, respondents were not familiar with the term Smart Cities. Over the course of the survey, and when educated about the various Smart City applications, they viewed the impact of Smart Cities as positive. When it comes to applications such as intelligent street lights, consumers can become proponents for the technology. Cities and utilities looking to deploy smart city services need to consider their citizens – especially millennials and other younger generations – as key stakeholders for these programs. Not only are these groups shaping the future, but as with most technologies, the younger generations are the early adopters. The first step in the process is getting them to understand how innovation can better society, by using channels that they are used to getting information from – social media.

If you’re interested in learning more about the study, please click here to view the results. You can also share your thoughts on the topic by participating in our live Tweetchat, Wednesday October 4 at 12:00pm ET. The chat will be moderated by Teena Maddox, Senior Writer at TechRepublic (@teena_maddox). If you’d like to take part or simply follow along, keep an on the #SCWDC, #SmartCitiesWeek, and #SSNIchat hashtags.