Navigant Research Blog

Cities and Businesses Care about Smart Buildings: Part 1

— November 9, 2017

In September, Amazon announced plans to open a second headquarters in North America called HQ2. The company expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the facility and create as many as 50,000 high paying jobs. In its request for proposal, Amazon listed preferences to help find the perfect location for its new campus. It is looking for a city of more than 1 million people with an international airport, mass transit, quality higher education, an educated workforce, and a solid business climate. 238 proposals have been submitted by cities and regional governments. While Amazon will look at the most obvious incentives from governments such as donated land, tax breaks and subsidies, it will also need to consider which cities will attract best talent.

Attracting Top Talent from a Business Perspective

By supporting more agile ways of working and enhancing the work environment, smart buildings can play a key role in attracting and retaining employees amid increasing competition for top talent in business sectors. Smart buildings use internet-enabled technology to gather data and bring operating systems and services under central control in order to create a better workplace.

Smart buildings can not only reduce operational and energy costs, but can also create an enhanced in-building experience to help increase productivity and promote corporate brand values. They achieve this by analyzing data on occupancy, movement, and resources in real time and by adapting systems to optimize the performance of both the building and the people within it. This way, smart buildings provide opportunities to address the challenges of productivity and comfort that are at the heart of contemporary debates about workplace environment. Cities trying to entice Amazon to their streets should take a closer look at smart buildings—which can help Amazon recruit top talent.

Relevant technologies are already available, including building energy management systems, location-aware sensors and services, and mobile phone applications. In fact, Navigant Research is bullish on continued adoption of these technologies. In a recent report, IoT for Intelligent Buildings, Navigant Research projects the market to grow from $6.3 billion in 2017 to $22.2 billion in 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.0%. The office segment is expected to grow at a 15.7% CAGR.

Attracting Businesses from a City’s Perspective

The evolution of smart buildings parallels the digital transformation in cities. Cities can now collect large volumes of high quality data from public infrastructure, such as government buildings and street light poles, that can transform a number of city service areas. For example, digital technologies are becoming an important element in traffic and transit management, public safety, social care, street lighting, and waste services. From sensors collecting data to developers building thousands of smart city apps, the Internet of Things movement is helping cities become truly smart.

Digital transformation of city services is certainly attractive to businesses, but cities can go the extra mile to enhance its competitive advantage. For cities to lure Amazon, the business environment that complements and drives investment in smart buildings should be enhanced. Smart technologies will further innovation, inclusion, and investment within a city. My next blog will explain what cities can do to spur investment in the smart buildings sector.

 

UK Cities Are Embedding Smart City Principles in City Policy

— November 7, 2017

My previous blog summarized five of the Innovation Awards spotlighted in the UK Smart Cities Index 2017, commissioned by Huawei, which assess the 20 leading smart cities in the UK. Those awards focused on five key smart city service areas: transportation, health, energy, education, and public safety. Equally important are the cross-sector strategies and technology investments that enable innovation across these service areas.

Four other Innovation Awards identify key strategic and technical areas where UK cities are making significant contributions to the development of smart city policies and infrastructure:

Sustainability: Cities are making sustainability the heart of city policy, as they recognize the need to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to the global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Peterborough takes the Innovation Award for its environmental focus and commitment to becoming a circular city, as exemplified in the Share Peterborough programme for resource sharing. Also commended are Bristol, European Green Capital in 2016; London, which has launched an ambitious new environmental policy; and Manchester, which has set a goal of being a zero carbon city by 2050.

Internet of Things (IoT): UK cities are looking to establish a large-scale test bed environment that can support a rolling programme of innovation projects. Bristol Is Open continues to lead the way in terms of its scope and ambition and the contribution it is making to the city’s broader plans. Other leading examples include Manchester’s CityVerve IoT demonstrator, Milton Keynes’ MK:Smart, and Cambridge’s new LoRa-based intelligent city platform.

Data and analytics: All the cities included in this report are looking at how to use data to improve services and boost innovation. London continues to be at the forefront on data innovation with its London Office of Data Analytics and a new Chief Digital Officer accelerating the use of data to improve services across the capital. Leeds also deserves mention as one of the pioneers for open data in the UK with Data Mill North, just one of several data-focused initiatives in the city.

Strategy: The successful adoption of new technologies to improve city services requires cities to rethink the way they design, manage, and operate city services in the digital age. All the leading cities are taking a fresh view on the impact of technology on city policy making, planning, and service design. The Innovation Award goes to Aberdeen for its new Target Operating Model, which seeks to embed smart city thinking into city planning, service design, and infrastructure investment. This will be enabled by new approaches to the provision of digital infrastructure and services.

The 10th Innovation Award is for City Partner and reflects the importance of central government and other agencies in fostering collaboration between cities and supporting follower cities as they develop smart city initiatives. The Future Cities Catapult is having a strong influence across the country by helping cities initiate smart city programmes, share ideas and insight, develop common standards, and accelerate innovation in areas like smart planning.

These Innovation Awards demonstrate the range of activity occurring across UK cities. In my next blog, I will examine some of broader insights to be drawn from Navigant Research’s efforts for the report and its conversations with city leaders.

 

Bristol Claims Top Spot as UK Cities Step Up Innovation Programmes

— November 3, 2017

The UK Smart Cities Index 2017, commissioned by Huawei, provides a timely review of the progress of smart cities in the UK and offers insights for urban innovation projects around the world. Bristol gains the top spot in the new index, a reflection of the city’s continued investment in programmes such as Bristol Is Open and the growing integration between innovation projects with the city’s operations. The city exemplifies the way smart city concepts are gradually being embedded at the heart of city policy. While Bristol edges ahead of London this year, the UK capital is also showing a strong commitment to driving smart city innovation, notably with the recent appointment of a new Chief Digital Officer. Following the two Leaders is a strong group of Contenders led by Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, and Nottingham.

Innovation Highlights

The scope of work being done across the UK is highlighted in the report in a series of Innovation Awards that showcase leadership in 10 areas. The first five awards focus on specific areas of city services:

Transportation: Many UK cities are looking at technologies to reduce congestion and transport-related emissions, and Milton Keynes stands out for its range of projects and its close alignment with the city’s broader strategy for growth. Its initiatives include mobility apps, EV and automated vehicles, and a new citywide intelligent traffic light management system.

Health: Supporting aging populations and reducing health inequalities, notably in terms of differences in life expectation between communities, are high priorities. Leeds is a leader among UK cities in exploring the possibilities of more integrated approaches to health and social care, the role of technologies in supporting people throughout their lives, and the importance of data in improving health outcomes.

Energy: As Navigant Research has highlighted, energy is an increasingly important issue for many cities in the UK and elsewhere. Not only is energy policy a key element in any broader sustainability target, it is also closely connected to transport, housing, and health policies. Among several cities driving new energy programmes, Nottingham gains the Innovation Award for its city-owned energy company, foundational energy projects, and new community energy schemes exploring the use of solar and storage solutions.

Education: One of the significant trends identified in the study is the closer relationship developing between local government and the university sector. Among the cities working in new ways with their universities to drive smart city projects are Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford. But the Innovation Award goes to Newcastle for the role the University of Newcastle has taken in the establishment of Newcastle City Futures and in directing and supporting a range of digital programmes in the city—as well as the establishment of the Science Central facility.

Public Safety: As most UK cities have already deployed extensive closed-circuit TV systems, the focus is now on coordination and the better use of video analysis and other forms of analytics. Glasgow has led the way in the creation of a new city operations centre, the showcase development from its smart city demonstrator award.

Cities are exploring the potential for new technologies in each of these service areas, they also realise the need to join up these programmes through more holistic approaches and the development of common platforms. In my next blog, I will look at the cities leading the way in these areas.

 

When 5G Meets Smart Street Lighting

— October 25, 2017

It is increasingly recognized that street lights are valuable city assets that can enable various smart city services and Internet of Things (IoT) strategies. Navigant Research expects the installed base of smart street lights to reach nearly 73 million globally by 2026. One of the many elements connected to realizing the value of smart street lights is supporting the deployment of cellular networks and, in particular, future 5G networks.

What About 5G?

With the continued expansion of IoT, the number of mobile users and connected devices will increase. As subsequent data consumption increases, there will be increasing pressure on network capacity. This has the potential to cause latency problems and possibly dropped services with a detrimental effect on many IoT applications. The next generation of wireless networks will therefore need to handle more traffic at high speeds than today’s LTE networks. 5G is hailed as the solution to these and other challenges, and it promises to bring speeds 20 times faster than the current 4G networks and deliver data with less than a millisecond of delay. Telecommunications companies are aiming to commercialize 5G networks by 2020.

However, the downside of 5G networks is that cellular signals do not travel far and are easily blocked by objects. Therefore, in order to prevent signals from being dropped, 5G networks require many more base stations to relay the signals than the current 4G networks. Fortunately, small cell base stations can solve that problem. These small low power nodes can be easily attached to existing infrastructure such as street light poles and buildings. Given their ubiquity and connection to the electricity network, street light poles are viewed as a particularly effective and increasingly important means to improve the network coverage.

Convergence of Smart Street Lighting and 5G

These requirements for 5G networks are converging with other drivers for smart street lighting. For example, in February 2017, Infineon (a German semiconductor manufacturer) and eluminocity (smart street lighting solutions provider) announced a partnership to develop connected street lights with a scalable sensor hub, connectivity with support for 5G deployment, and data processing.

More recently, Philips announced plans to develop 4G/5G-enabled LED smart light poles with American Tower Corp., a real estate investment trust (REIT) providing communication towers and other transmission real estate. The smart light poles will not only house 5G network gears, but also connect to the Philips’ City Touch, a smart street lighting management platform.

5G Opportunities Expanding

As the smart street lighting deployment increases and 5G networks expand, there will be more opportunities for the two markets to be complementary to each other. To learn more about how smart street lighting can contribute to other city services, see the Navigant Research report Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities.

 

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