Many cities across the world are keen to evolve into a futuristic ‘smart’ metropolis. But there is another significant change that is taking place in our towns and cities right now. We’re living longer than previous generations. In the UK alone, the number of people aged 80 and over is set to double by 2037. So it’s about time we consider smart city projects that take a pragmatic and positive view on ageing.
Leeds, the third largest city in the UK, is in a unique position to do so. The city has 37 Neighbourhood Networks. These are locally led organisations supporting more than 100,000 older people to lead independent, proactive lives. With the help of some of these networks, service providers and technologists, we have launched several age-friendly experiments through our Innovation Lab. This approach is also challenging us to re-think the role of technology in creating a smart city. People have to come first.