£400m savings available from machine-to-machine tech

Councils could save more than £402m by using technologies that allow network devices to talk to each other in the areas of smart lighting and smart energy systems alone.

New research by polling firm ComRes for supplier Vodafone UK shows that two thirds of urban councillors are not aware of such technology – known as Machine-to-Machine (M2M).

Vodafone said that M2M could help local authorities improve services including street lighting, refuse collection, urban traffic and transport management.

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Matt Key, director of M2M sales and commercial at Vodafone said: “Among the small amount of councillors who are familiar with M2M, almost all of them (83 per cent) feel the technology will be important in delivering better services and improved value to the community.

“If we can help more councillors understand the possible savings and the benefits, then we have a real opportunity to help local councils improve the services for their communities, as well as free up more budget to be reinvested in front line services.”

Systems to monitor and reduce energy usage could save local government could save close to £190 million per year, the company said.

Connected or smart street lights could drive savings of £52.m on energy costs and  £161.9m in maintenance.

The survey found that 88% of adults living in urban areas support the introduction of smart traffic light systems which automatically respond to the flow of people and vehicles for more effective traffic management.

The survey gauged opinion among 629 urban councillors and more than 1,600 citizens living in and around urban areas to understand their views on the use of technology for public service delivery.

77 per cent of residents said they would support their council’s decision to invest more in new technology to drive improved public services.

Another 57% said they would support their local council investing in applications to help them find parking spaces.

Key said: “The benefits that are already being seen by the private sector, other markets and some local authorities are just too significant for urban councillors to ignore.”

Colin Marrs

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