Season 5, Post 7: How smart is your city?

Hype and reality, as we regularly note, are two very different things. Almost every Mayor or town planner will probably now describe the city with which they…

Season 5, Post 7: How smart is your city?

Hype and reality, as we regularly note, are two very different things. Almost every Mayor or town planner will probably now describe the city with which they are involved as being ‘smart’ but the term has become sufficiently over-used in our view for it to have become almost meaningless. We were therefore pleased to encounter a recent piece of work which seeks to rank cities systematically on their smartness.

The analysis assesses three factors when considering how smart a city might be: tech infrastructure and connectivity, green infrastructure and a tech-driven job market. Within the former category, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots, broadband download speeds, 5G network presence, airport availability, and IoT companies are the criteria of importance. As far as green infrastructure is concerned, the number of public-access electric vehicle charging points and the amount of certified green buildings matter. The last of these factors is measured by both the absolute number of tech jobs and their ratio as a percentage of the population.

Your author derives a certain sense of pride from the fact that London ranks as the smartest city in Europe. The city where he was born and has lived all his adult life ranks well for tech and connectivity infrastructure, with particularly high average broadband speeds. London’s green credentials are also strong. Despite these attractions, the city apparently has almost 50,000 tech job vacancies at present. Amsterdam and Berlin score well in Europe too, but US cities (with Austin, LA and Seattle at the top of the list) generally rank above their European counterparts.

All ranking methodologies will have their inevitable flaws, but we have argued since 2019 that cities globally will need to improve their infrastructure and become de facto smarter. Much of the driver for this is demographics: 1.3m people around the world are moving into cities each week, implying that by 2050, c70% of the world will live in urban locations (data from the UN). However, beyond better tech architecture and greener living conditions, we are of the opinion that foundational infrastructure matters too. Both water services and grid infrastructure drastically need to be improved, as we argued in respective theme pieces in February and September last year, creating a range of potential investment opportunities.

23 February 2023

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.  

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Click here to view all Blog posts

Alex Gunz, Fund Manager ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital LLP believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital LLP, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital LLP is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital LLP disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

The document is protected by copyright. The use of any trademarks and logos displayed in the document without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent is strictly prohibited. Information in the document must not be published or redistributed without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent. 

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