Smart Cities


Throughout the world, cities face complex challenges to become smarter but are also ideally placed to drive investment, deploy innovation and offer the right scale for pilot projects.

Smart Cities aren’t a futuristic idea, they’re taking shape now. In the UK, Glasgow recently won a £24m government grant to become one of the UK’s first smart cities, and since 2010 the European Commission's European Green Capital Award has gone to a diverse range of cities including, Stockholm, Hamburg, Nantes and the 2014 winner, Copenhagen.

Seizing opportunities to use technology and innovation that drives positive economic and social transformation is, at the very core, what Smart Cities are about. In hosting the Olympics 2012, London demonstrated how a city can transform itself by redesigning not just some of its infrastructure, but also its use.

Technology and design have a critical role to play in Smart Cities - both in terms of the intelligence we build into our cities and as the toolbox that allows us to better understand what we need cities to do for us.  Whilst not the only factor in making a city “smart”, technology and the speed with which it is connecting the world around us offers us the opportunity to take urban design a major step forward. 

Raising awareness of the challenges and opportunities to design and deliver smart cities over the next few years is something Bird & Bird is taking a lead on, both in terms of our chosen sectors (IT, communications, energy and healthcare) where we see great strides being made, and in terms of all the technological innovation that we advise on. 

Work highlights

Smart Grid & Smart Meters
  • We are advising the UK Government on the 'Smart Metering Implementation Programme' - the biggest change project in the British energy market since the 1970s, involving the roll-out of some 53 million smart gas and electricity meters to households and businesses in Great Britain and seeking to prepare Britain for a move to smarter energy networks and greater energy efficiency
Smart Buildings and Demand Management
  • Our lawyers have advised various developers and large energy consumers on the corporate and contractual structure, CHP concession agreement, equipment lease, customer supply agreements and property leases in respect of a number of important urban development projects
  • We have worked on groundbreaking projects that have won, among others: the Combined Heat and Power Association community and residential award in the UK and the Guardian Sustainable Business energy award
  • We are advising 7 NHS trusts on the extension and renegotiation of complex IT hosting and support contracts regarding patient and clinical management systems.

News and Events

Delivering Smart Cities event

In March and April 2013, Bird & Bird, in partnership with Barclays, Cisco and the Guardian Sustainable Business held a series of interactive events focusing on the Smart Cities agenda. These included: a feature length article on the Guardian's Sustainable Business platform providing background and context to the topic (link), followed by an online interactive Q&A forum (link) stimulating discussion and ideas and building interest and awareness ahead of a 'Delivering Smart Cities' event hosted at the Design Museum in London on the 21st of March.

This event brought together key stakeholders actively involved in the delivery of smart cities to explore new, collaborative ways of working and alternative business models necessary to unlock further investment and innovation. Topics covered included: Big Data, Smart Buildings, Connectivity, Energy, Healthcare, Transport and Water. Amongst the key stakeholders present were representatives from national, regional and local government (with contributions from several cities, including Barcelona, Birmingham, Bristol, Cork and Nice). Other stakeholders included representatives from banking and finance, technology, real estate, energy and healthcare companies and institutions.

This series of events culminated in a 'Demonstration Day' held at Cisco's Executive Briefing Centre near Heathrow providing a hands on experience focussing on collaborative thinking and Public Services are being revolutionised today.