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Smart cities

Digital technologies make smart cities more liveable, sustainable and prosperous.


Your city relies on a complex web of systems and services to survive. As independent experts in the built environment, we understand how technology can be used to help cities thrive.

Arup sees smart cities as one of the tools for urban development, with people at the heart of the process. We advise policy makers, executives, city departments, developers, and industry on defining how much to invest and how much value they can get from being 'smart'. Our range of services covers strategy and organisation, urban informatics, business systems and architecture, and infrastructure advice that, taken together or individually, will help deliver smart services.

Understanding the opportunity

Just how big an opportunity is this? Our report for the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimates the smart cities industry will be worth more than $400bn globally by 2020.

We work with different organisations, including national and city governments, and industrial clients, to develop an understanding of what ‘smart’ could mean for their city, to identify the value smart technology will create, and to understand the opportunities smart cities present. For example, our smart mobility paper for Schneider Electric explores how information and technologies can help cities meet growing demand for transport while meeting environmental targets and promoting a better travel experience.

Keeping technology open

Technology brings greater benefits to cities when it is used in an open and collaborative way. We believe that digital infrastructure should be designed in a way that enables flexibility to different needs.

We are advising the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on the use of smart technologies to enhance visitor experience, attract tenants, and showcase systems in use. Our objective is to use technology to help the park meet the needs of its different users today so that it remains an attractive part of London today and in the long-term.

Implementing smart

Arup draws upon different disciplines, including engineering, architecture, urban design and economics, to design smart technology plans and systems. We work with the myriad of stakeholders to guide their implementation, defining how they could be financed and governed as well as outlining their technical composition.

In the UK, we’re advising the City of Bristol to establish a partnership of city agencies and organisations for implementing smart technology projects to benefit all citizens.

In Guadalajara, Mexico, our sustainability strategy for the Ciudad Creativa Digital brings together key urban systems, including energy, water, waste and transport. In Christchurch, New Zealand, we are working with industry and social enterprise to deliver the world first Sensing City programme which will see sensors collecting real-time information about how the city works to find ways for it to better serve its citizens.

Our smart cities team draws upon Arup’s wider expertise in creating intelligent, resilient cities, exemplified by the Cities Alive initiative, the City Resilience Framework and our on-going work with the C40 Cities. As our report on Future Cities describes, ‘digital’ is just one approach to urban development, along with spatial, physical, commercial and social.

Read some of our recent reports on the smart cities market.

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Global contact

  • Volker Buscher

Explore our work


Project: Nordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities

Cataloguing sustainaility innovations, policies and technical solutions of Nordic cities.

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Several school children and a teacher standing on a bridge testing the water quality of the Heathcote river in Christchurch by dangling a water sensor into it. © Ronli Greyling.

Project: Christchurch Sensing City, New Zealand

Sensing City is a world-first project which will see sensors installed in Christchurch to collect real-time information on a range of variables to improve how the city functions.

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Ciudad Creativa's site plan. Credit CRA.

Project: Ciudad Creativa Digital masterplan

Masterplan design for a new digital industry hub in Mexico.

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Campaign: Visualisation – technology at the heart of design

How do you experience the future from every angle?

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Campaign: Stations in the city

How are transport hubs evolving to meet local needs?

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