Despite lots of talk about smart city initiatives, a recent study found municipalities across the U.K. are not walking the walk.

New Electronics reports the results of a survey of 187 councils from across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland by DJS Research.

The survey found that many local governments across the U.K. lack the capability, leadership and budget to implement smart city projects. This comes as an increasing number of cities worldwide throw resources behind smart city projects to improve their budgets and livability.

More than 80% of the councils had minimal to no engagement with smart city planning, with few assigning managers or teams to undertake smart city projects.

From a broader perspective, the report predicted U.K. municipalities face the risk of segmenting into three smart city tiers: early adopters that are powering ahead and securing funding; councils with stated interest in smart city projects but no resources to progress; and those with little recognition of smart city benefits.

“It is evident that we need leadership to make smart cities work,” said John Fox, managing director of street lighting firm Lucy Zodion, which commissioned the study.

U.K. needs councils to lead

Fox added that there was also needed “leadership from government to provide a clearer path to delivery and leadership from local authorities to create an over-arching strategy to suit individual cities.”

The report identified five key barriers to the delivery of smart city projects. They include: poor funding; poor internal prioritization among city leaders; little evidence; insufficient collaboration; and little confidence in smart projects.

“It is only when councils are able to make smart cities a strategic priority and work together to implement them efficiently, putting the citizen at the centre of their plans, will we be able to realize the potential of our future cities,” said Fox.

The report found that the U.K. risks falling behind global leaders without local governments identifying clear smart city goals and committing the funding to see them through.