Smart infrastructure and the intelligent city: unlocking the complexity

by Jiahui Hermes | Jul 21, 2023

In the spring of 2022, the Department for International Trade Tokyo (DIT) commissioned CC to produce report on the current and future state of smart cities and smart city technologies in Japan. I’m pleased to say that the report, which I wrote with my colleague Takehiro Kojima, is now available for you to download below. Although its core attention is urban areas in Japan, I believe the findings have enormous significance for any organisation wanting to unlock the complexities of smart infrastructure across a wide range of applications anywhere in the world.

The CC team explored both public and private smart city infrastructure activity in Japan, with a special focus on application and technology trends, to identify potential applications for trade, investment and R&D between UK companies and Japan. DIT are keen to better connect UK companies to key domestic players as part of a development drive to accelerate smart city progress, from electric vehicles and transportation systems to communication networks.

When you scroll down to read the report, you’ll find a comprehensive snapshot of the current realities and opportunities of the intelligent city challenge, with informative overviews of activity by industry for construction, real estate, housing, digital connectivity, financial services and other service and equipment providers.

But what especially jumps out for me are the many common themes that can be applied to smart infrastructure and smart cities anywhere in the world. Whenever you come across the opportunity of the digitisation of public infrastructure you are always met with a set of competing challenges. There are high levels of technical complexity, there are high levels of need, there’s always a fragmented ecosystem. How do you create a holistic environment so that you can really start to harness the benefits of such digital infrastructure transformation?

We’re fortunate at CC to be able to confront these challenges with such a multidisciplined base of expertise. It allows us to work with our clients to unpack and get to grips with so many multifactorial elements – the technical, the commercial, the human-centric, the complexity of the ecosystem – these enable us to identify where the next gen, game changing solutions may be found.

Such a holistic outlook is vital when coming to terms with innovation in areas like connected corridors, smart highways, ports, airports and so on – as well as dealing with pressing and urgent digitisation needs in smart grids, water and other utilities.

The human perspective is of course crucial for any smart infrastructure project. Hand in hand with assessing the technical and commercial drivers, equally important is to inform your development thinking with vital insights from user needs, user experience research, human factors and behavioural science. CC’s pioneering work in Human-Machine Understanding has particular significance for future innovation. Smart infrastructure that understands people at an emotional level will have extraordinary business and societal impact.

So, do please enjoy the report – and also reach out to me if there are any aspects of this complex topic that you’d like to discuss with me in more detail. It’ll be great to hear from you.

Smart Cities report

Expert authors

Head of Applied Science and Consulting, Asia | View profile

Dr. Jiahui Hermes is the Strategy and AI Lead for Cambridge Consultants in Asia with 15 years' experience in technology strategy and engineering development.

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