Smart Urban Transformation

Smart Urban Transformation

PwC distinguishes 5 mega trends that have an impact on peoples’ lives and which therefore should be on the radar of those public institutions responsible for any European city or region.

  • Demographical changes within society
  • Shift of economic power
  • Increasing urbanisation
  • Climate change and depletion of natural resources, and
  • Technological change

It is within cities and the related urban regions where these trends come together and have their effect on the people living and working there.


Obviously, this will create challenges.

  • How will the megatrends impact the economic and competitive profile of a city or region?
  • What is the impact on the city’s infrastructures?
  • How to align research, (higher) education and the labor market?
  • How can the region be made environmentally sustainable and safe?

To prepare the regions for these challenges city leadership needs to assess the various trends and their potential impact on the city’s current situation and future direction.

Any urban region has its own strengths and weaknesses based on historical developments. At PwC we call this ‘DNA’. To achieve its vision a region should create a strategy taking the trends and DNA into consideration and settings goals to guide the required transformation.

The key factor is organizing capacity. Urban Leadership is not the only player, but it can play an important role in managing and facilitating the process of change and the interaction between the five most important actors for co-creation.


The Dutch city of The Hague, for example, is developing a smart city infrastructure, based on the new generation lamp posts. Up to 800 of these hubs are equipped with generic slots for sensors, Wi-Fi, electricity and more. This scalable network is the basis of the 'Living Lab Scheveningen', a co-creation between businesses, knowledge institutions, municipality authorities and residents.

Similar principles are used in Germany for the world-famous Oktoberfest in Bavaria for which an app was developed to gather data to manage crowds. 

While in Frankfurt, affordable housing is not just created by building more and cheaper houses but by lowering the costs of living in existing housing by installing units that measure and optimize the routing of energy. This makes these houses more affordable.

Co-operation is key

On a higher level, cooperation between regions, nationally and internationally, will benefit each of them by avoiding duplicate investments and improving the competitiveness of each region.

PwC connects stakeholders, helps to initiate and upscale pilot projects and digital innovations and is working on new governance and finance structures. PwC is sharing its knowledge and networks, to help a city to become the best possible facilitator, to create strong and smart urban cities and regions.

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