In order to break ties with Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Trump administration has been tapping companies such as Microsoft and Dell to build proper 5G-centric hardware businesses as a US-made alternative to Huawei’s equipment.
Senate lawmakers have also drafted a bill to push the federal government towards creating a $1 billion fund to help develop the technology required to cut Huawei out of both domestic and overseas markets. In Europe the US hopes for companies such as Ericsson and Nokia to pitch in. In some European countries, however, the backbone of cell networks is already provided by Huawei, with the UK government having announced at the end of January that it’s already cleared Huawei purchases for the country’s four biggest telco companies.
In an attempt to pour cold water on security concerns, Huawei announced in October that its willingness to enter into a “no backdoor” agreement with India to launch 5G networks in the country. India, the world’s second-biggest wireless market, will hold an airwaves auction for 5G services before March but is yet to take a decision on whether to exempt Huawei from the test runs.
Ride-hailing company Uber and South Korean automaker Hyundai plan to jointly develop electric air taxis designed for trips of up to 100 kilometres with a maximum cruising speed of 290 kilometres per hour, according to a report from Reuters. Uber has pledged to begin demonstrating urban flights in 2020 and commercial operations in 2023 as part of its project, which also counts Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences as one of its partner firms. Although counts vary, it’s estimated that there are currently more than 170 electric aviation concepts underway. The Vertical Flight Society says that investors have sunk more than £760 million ($1 billion) into Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVtol) concepts alone.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched the UK capital’s first-ever resilience strategy, designed to address issues such as the impact of climate change and extreme weather events that lead to flooding and drought. The report that the new strategy is based on also looks at the potential impact of Brexit on London’s communities and businesses, including possible disruption to trade and food supply chains, as well as the availability of workers across a number of sectors including the National Health Service. The strategy has been developed as part of the global 100 Resilient Cities Project.
A two-story office block in Dubai is the world’s largest 3D-printed structure. Robotics construction company Apis Cor used its technology to print the building, which will be part of Dubai municipality’s innovation centre. Using a gypsum-based material, the printing took place outdoors to prove that the technology could handle a harsh environment. Pre-cast slabs were used for the floors and conventional windows and roofs were added by a contractor once the walls were printed. To see the construction in action, click here.
ISPreview, a portal for digital content related to internet service providers, reports that a new broadband operator called Optifi Limited is looking to build an open access Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to “serve primarily residential” homes, as well as some commercial properties and related communal facilities. This comes in the wake of UK regulatory and competition authority OFCOM’s statement earlier last year that only 7 per cent of UK homes and businesses are connected to full fibre broadband .
by Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Session 1 – Co-creation in Action- https://vimeo.com/378584037
Session 2 – The S-Package – https://vimeo.com/378584953
Session 3 – The M-Package – https://vimeo.com/378585262
Session 4 – The L-Package – https://vimeo.com/378586039
Session 5 – Quick-start & summary – https://vimeo.com/378585705
Connecting people, cities, regions and data with sustainable digital networks.
How can we tackle challenges such as rising populations, increasing traffic and the expectations of citizens and the economy with sustainable and future-proof solutions for safe, environmentally friendly, liveable cities and regions?
Smart cities are the answer. A digital infrastructure ensures the intelligent connection of data, technologies and people. Ideally, the new solutions benefit the public sector, the environment, citizens and the business community. Since every city and every region has a different starting position, there are no patent remedies for digitalisation in the public sphere.
One success factor, however, is to integrate different perspectives, to understand needs as precisely as possible and to use the creativity of everyone involved. To help cities in the digitisation process Deutsche Telekom offers Co-Creation for Cities, with the aim to provide cities with a guideline on how to tackle the challenges that come with digital transformation.
Co-Creation for Cities is developed based on design thinking methods. It means developing solutions or using existing ones together with all parties involved. In cities and regions, the involved parties can be citizens, but also suppliers and interest groups. The more people that are on board, the easier it is to consider possible concerns from the start. This increases joint identification with the finished “product”. In addition, early cooperation can also minimise friction losses and costs.
Co-creation involves using a working method with which designers will be familiar. The five steps to Co-Creation for Smart City are:
Deutsche Telekom can support cities in all co-creation phases. With many years of experience in the application of the methods, Deutsche Telekom can contribute further competencies in research, design, production of prototypes, consulting with regard to cooperation and selection of the right provider, as well as in securing the technical feasibility.
In this video series you will be introduced to the co-creation approach from Deutsche Telekom, the main benefits of it, and how this method can help your city. Additionally, Telekom has designed three different co-creation offers – small, medium and large – that are tailored to fit your city’s needs.
Deutsche Telekom’s experience and proven methods can drive the changes in your city to truly make it a better place in which to live.
by Ole Schilling, VP Market Development Smart Cities & Regions, DTAG andMarkus Feikes, Co-Creation Smart Cities & Regions, Deutsche Telekom
For more information, click here.
The effects of digital transformation are already all around us in our everyday lives, and cities are embracing the benefits. New technologies and online tools allow us to introduce e-governance, improve public services and reduce carbon emissions to create more liveable and sustainable cities.
Yet, as we embrace ever smarter cities, we need to be increasingly aware of how we use, manage and store data, and to keep in mind that at the heart of any smart city lies its citizens. Without a doubt, data should be regarded as the backbone of the smarter cities revolution. It is only by harnessing its potential that we can reveal patterns and behaviours that can inform better policy making. As authorities dedicated to the public interest, cities want to use data in a socially responsible way.
This comes with obvious risks and tensions, however. Principle among these is ensuring that citizens’ data is anonymised and not traceable to an individual. Another top priority means that people should have access to use, manage and control any datasets that they generate and are then used by others.
At EUROCITIES, the network of major European cities, we’ve done a lot of work this year with pioneering cities such as Edinburgh, Ghent and Zaragoza to create a set of 10 principles on the responsible use of citizens’ data. Citizens’ data includes both personal and non-personal data, which can be aggregated and anonymised to maintain personal privacy. Our principles recognise that data generated by citizens in this way is a valuable public asset and offer a set of guidelines for local administrations to try to manage these data better and put them into practice in their smart city projects. This includes putting in mechanisms and practices to give people better control over their data.
Many cities, including several EUROCITIES member cities, are already going above and beyond in this area.
Citizen data can be used to have a real public value, generating benefits for citizens and society as a whole. Bordeaux is monitoring tourist behaviour in its metropolitan area by analysing social media data from, for example, TripAdvisor, Instagram and Flickr, where tourists leave a digital trace through photographs and posts. Once anonymously processed and analysed, this data reveals the area’s attractiveness and enables the development of cultural and nightlife activities tailored to tourist interests and needs. This data also allows for the development of public policies and investments in culture and tourism.
The city of Eindhoven is working with an electric car sharing firm to gain access to the company’s data on the use of shared cars within the city. From this anonymised data, Eindhoven will learn about the number of vehicles involved, timeframes and the areas of greatest use. This agreement enables Eindhoven to analyse how shared mobility solutions are developing, where electrical charging stations and parking facilities are needed and where mobility innovations are lacking. This allows the city to improve smart mobility hubs to stimulate the use of shared cars.
The potential of a well-managed digital transformation, where we handle people’s data in a responsible way and for the benefit of all, can have a long-lasting impact on the ability of cities to drive economic and social development, without negatively affecting our environment.
Barcelona has worked with students between 14 and 16 years old to analyse data available through the Barcelona open data website, to develop apps using open-source programmes, as well as visual and graphic representations of their findings. The students’ findings are being used by local politicians as well as developers to create new apps and take new decisions to improve services for a more liveable and sustainable city.
Disruptive technologies such as the IoT and AI also have an important role to play in unlocking the potential of local administrations to offer better public services. However, rather than focusing only on the data produced, we advocate for interoperable platforms, preferably built with open source technologies, that make it easier for more actors, especially local actors, to get in on the game.
The Decode project, which is being piloted in Amsterdam and Barcelona, aims to give back control of data to citizens. Its open-source tools respect privacy and rights, and are decentralised so that people retain their personal data in a wallet but anonymised data is available for use by innovators, start-ups, NGOs, cooperatives and local communities to build apps and services that respond to their needs and those of the wider community.
We hope that EUROCITIES’ data principles will serve not only as inspiration for other cities, but also for companies involved in developing smart city solutions and perhaps even for a European-level framework. The potential of a well-managed digital transformation, where we handle people’s data in a responsible way and for the benefit of all, can have a long-lasting impact on the ability of cities to drive economic and social development, without negatively affecting our environment. With cities leading the way, a smarter future is in sight.
by Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General, EUROCITIES
The Cities Today Institute (CTI), launched in September 2019, is the first global network for CIOs and CTOs in local government. Its mission is to assist community leaders with designing and implementing policies, strategies and projects by providing training and leadership forums, peer-to-peer mentoring, a shared research library, and funding partnerships. It is led by former city and industry leaders with track records of delivering on urban innovation programmes, including Kimberly LaGrue (CIO of New Orleans), Theo Blackwell (first Chief Digital Officer of London) and Bas Boorsma of the Universiteit of Amsterdam, author and Chief Innovation Officer of petition campaign site change.org.
Full-fibre broadband uses fibre-optic cables to connect the exchange directly to each premises. Full-fibre connections are capable of download and upload speeds of more tha 1Gbps. It is currently the fastest and most reliable broadband technology. Theresa May’s government pledged to build a UK-wide full-fibre network by 2033, while the current administration has adopted a target to merely deliver “gigabit-capable broadband” nationwide by 2025. As gigabit broadband is technology-neutral and can run not just on full-fibre and 5G but on cable broadband as well, some commentators regard this as a watering down of previous targets. For more on this click here.
The garden city was an at-the-time radical concept for co-operative development set out by parliamentary stenographer Ebenezer Howard in the 1890s, in response to the overcrowding and industrial pollution of expanding Victorian cities. The ideal garden city town is located in a green belt separating housing from industry, and combines the best of the city and the countryside – Letchworth Garden City (1903) and Welwyn Garden City (1920) are probably the two best-known examples.
A GIS, or Geographical Information System, helps its user capture, analyse and present spatial data on a digital map. By combining spatial and non-spatial data in layers, GIS builds a holistic picture of the world. Identifying trends and patterns by using GIS is much faster and efficient than using spreadsheets.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a widely used rating system which scores green building design and construction in five basic areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. By 2018 more than 7,000 buildings achieved LEED Platinum status. In response to sustainability becoming a top priority of businesses in all verticals, a need for extending the LEED rating system to include carbon emissions created by the production processes of building materials was announced at Greenbuild Expo 2019.
LIDAR (light detection and ranging) is a surveying method that shines a small laser at a surface and measures the time the light takes to return to its source. Differences in return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3D representations of the target. LIDAR technology, which is known primarily for the vital role it plays in autonomous vehicle development, also holds enormous potential for security applications.
NewCities is a global non-profit committed to shaping a better urban future through its curated and produced content on the most important emerging urban trends. Its mission is to convene and connect the key stakeholders of the urban ecosystem: the residents, governments, academic institutions, civil society organisations, and business communities of a city.
Resilient cities are those with the ability to absorb, recover from and prepare for future shocks, whether economic, environmental, social or institutional. Resilient cities promote sustainable development, wellbeing and inclusive growth. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RS) programme defines urban resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.” New Orleans’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to emerge as a resilient smart city in 2017 is one example.
The IMD Smart City Index rates how citizens globally perceive the scope and impact of efforts to make their cities smart, balancing economic and technological aspects with “humane dimensions”. Scores are based on various categories including transport and mobility, sustainability, governance, innovation economy, digitalisation, living standards and expert perception. IMD (International Institute for Management Development) is a business education school located in Lausanne, Switzerland.
UKCRIC (UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities) is an integrated research capability with a mission to underpin the renewal, sustainment and improvement of infrastructure and cities in the UK and elsewhere. It is a collaboration between many of the UK’s leading universities, supported by a £138 million investment from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to develop new state-of-the-art research laboratories. UKCRIC will provide evidence to de-risk, help prioritise and provide evidence for investment.
A wicked problem is a political, economic or social problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory or changing requirements that are often hard to recognise. Climate change, flu pandemics and drug trafficking are examples of wicked problems, where either solutions depend on how the problem is framed, stakeholders have radically differing views of the problem, or where the constraints of resolution and the resources required change over time, and as a result, the problem can never be solved definitively.
Sidewalk Labs is Google parent company Alphabet Inc’s urban innovation organisation. Its goal is to improve urban infrastructure through technological solutions and tackle issues such as the cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage. After a lot of privacy-related controversy, Sidewalk’s mini-smart city project received the green light from local authorities, with the caveats that the project would run with a limited scope and the company needed to work more closely with oversight agencies on the construction.
Funded by UKCRIC, a group of new urban observatories aims to improve the quality of life for their citizens. Each observatory is linked to a university and the data collected is openly available. Through data collection and analysis, urban observatories enable characterisation of how cities work and how their constituent engineering, natural and social systems interact. Six new urban observatories launched in Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, Cranfield, Manchester, and Newcastle – which won smart city of the year – last November.
UAM (urban air mobility) refers to urban transportation systems developed in response to urban traffic congestion that move people by air. UAM vehicles, or electric air taxis, are aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), and are designed to address mobility issues in densely populated megapolises. Companies developing UAM technologies include both incumbents such as Airbus as well as start-ups as Uber and Lilium. For a quick overview of the UAM space click here.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
In this fast-changing retail age, experience now ranks higher than product or price. Research shows that over half of customers won’t return to a store after just one unresolved negative experience. So understanding customers and what they think and feel has never been more important.
Yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gather customer feedback, and to tap into its true business value. Today’s customers are overrun with surveys, emails and special offers tempting them to share their views. Low engagement and dropout rates are a growing challenge. There is also a huge risk that the data customers share across the many channels now available to them gets stuck in disparate silos and spreadsheets, where it delivers zero benefit to the business.
So how can companies successfully get the insight they need and use it to drive their business forward? It all comes down to learning how to listen to customers – and how to effectively take action as a result.
Securing the voice of the customer and deploying the resulting insights can have a transformative effect on performance, profit and customer experience. But only if it’s collected and used in the right way.
For Critizr, that means a whole company approach. We view customer feedback as a driving force at every business level – from HQ to shop floor, not just in the marketing department. Our approach hands the keys to customer-centricity to front-line teams, making them more agile and effective. This local empowerment is the core factor in the success of our platform
. So, while Critizr generates feedback and insight for senior management to plan for the long term, staff in the field can quickly and efficiently take action at local level – doing what it takes to solve problems, win back dissatisfied shoppers and drive loyalty and revenue.
The money story behind local empowerment is compelling. A recent study conducted by Critizr in conjunction with the CX Institute assessed the value of improving customer experience. Our study showed that 53 per cent of customers who’ve had a bad experience can be turned into promoters if their issue is addressed within 48 hours. Promoters spend more, are more loyal and will actively advocate on a brand’s behalf.
Critizr’s experience with leading brands across Europe proves the positive results of transforming all employees into powerful customer champions in their own outlet. On average our clients see a 10-point increase in NPS (the Net Promoter Score, one of the most effective customer satisfaction metrics for modern businesses) in their first year of working with Critizr.
The future of retail relies on businesses and brands using customer experience and feedback to differentiate themselves, drive value from their retained customers and ultimately increasing the bottom line. What better approach could there be than to empower the entire organisation to truly understand what customers want – and then to take action to provide it.
By Douglas Mancini, VP Sales EMEA, Critizr
To understand how to empower your whole organisation using customer feedback with Critizr click here.
Current global population trends indicate that by 2050, more than 80 per cent of us will live in congested urban areas. If we simply scale our current ways of living and operating, we will face disaster. An alternative approach is to use a digital twin of a place – a replica that can be used for testing ideas before unleashing them on the real thing. The digital twin will help city leaders, planners, citizens and visitors better manage resources by gaining a clearer understanding how their actions impact the world around them.
Yet digital twins will not simply materialise – development requires nurturing and targeted “plugging in” to the surrounding environment. We must start by understanding purpose, and only then can we identify the data required to deliver that purpose. Twin development is a journey that will take time, effort and a lot of collaboration.
In partnership with Atkins, the IET recently published a whitepaper on digital twins for the built environment. The paper introduced an industry-agnostic maturity spectrum to help communicate the complex concept and explain benefits along the development journey.
Table 1 – The digital twin maturity spectrum by IET
The reality is that most places will currently be hovering around Elements 0 and 1. The digital interaction required for Element 2 (taking into account time and cost) is limited to district level projects at this time. However, as smart places engage with the IT required to derive digital twins from conventional places, Element 2 will become common across cityscapes.
Odd exceptions to this (like intelligent transport systems) are already using data to drive broad operational efficiency, but these tend to be single-mode, and service provider/asset focused. They are not really at Element 3, yet.
Element 4 is a step away from being truly smart. These places are starting to be thought of and even a few would consider themselves to be on a pathway to achieving this level. An example of this would be the latest 5G testbeds. This new infrastructure provides a two-way data channel and the opportunity to automate decisions based on mass data acquisition that a 5G network will enable.
Nirvana is the realisation of Element 5. Self-governing smart places ruled by principles and desired outcomes that have been agreed upon and set by citizens. When this happens, places will be interactive, sustainable, citizen-centric and outcome-focused.
An Element 5 smart place will be able to make predictions and operate autonomously – adapting city infrastructure in the event of floods, for example, by automatically redirecting traffic and turning road tunnels into storm drains. The role of the digital twin is essential to run simulations and encourage experiments of the various what-if scenarios.
Despite this, there are barriers to implementation. In the short term, these relate to the ownership and secure handling and management of data – especially against the backdrop of high-profile data breaches.
In smart places, the digital twin will always compete with its physical asset. The virtual replica needs to add value by supporting a reduction in overall costs, increasing efficiency and improving user experience and engagement. It can never deviate from reality or trust in the digital twin will be lost.
From a smart places perspective, the digital twin is just one aspect of a multi-faceted programme. The digital twin has to be relevant and provide value on an ongoing basis, hence it will need to grow in scope and function as the data, the outcomes and business value are defined.
• Embrace the concept now. All new projects should adopt a digital twin approach. Project managers should reach out to digital twin leaders and explore how they can maximise return on investment. We must then guide stakeholders to preserve the value of the innovation, not lose it to blind “value engineering”
• Respect the journey. The creation and management of a digital twin is a journey relevant to the entire project lifecycle. We should focus on purpose at each stage, understand the benefits of each milestone and expect value to increase along the journey.
• Collaborate. Overall success will only come through collaboration between government, industry, academia and society. We must all be actively involved in the conversation and push for industry standardisation.
• Regulate. Governments must take the lead and drive national policy to create shared frameworks and ecosystems.
• Get out of silos. We must learn from each other and contribute to a common good, working collectively to meet global challenges.
• Be sustainable. Adopting a digital twin approach now will enable society to make the necessary shift to more sustainable operations.
Ultimately, digital twins provide us with an opportunity to improve the environment where we all live and work. Their form and formats are yet to be fully developed, but it’s already possible to appreciate the benefits that could be realised.
by Chris Cooper, Director, KnowNow Information Ltd,Simon Evans, Director, Digital Engineering at Atkins, Cristina Savian, Managing Director, BE-WISE and Allan Burns, Director, Telemental
We live in an era of rapid change and technological development. Consequently, many of the business models that companies have relied on for decades have become obsolete almost overnight.
This flux is particularly apparent in the retail industry. Every week we read about once-dominant companies collapsing. Often these stories are accompanied by statistics showing the inexorable movement of shoppers to online stores, the abandonment of the high street and businesses innovating to survive.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the extinction of bricks and mortar retailer is nigh, and that SMEs will never compete against the likes of Amazon. I don’t believe this is true. Consumer habits have changed, but the fundamentals of business haven’t. If you have a good, well-priced product, an efficiently run business and a prospective customer base, you can succeed. The key to this is data. Or more specifically, understanding your data.
Every business decision you make needs to be underpinned by a true understanding of the current situation, and critically, how it could evolve in the future. For example, do you know who your customers are, on which marketing channels they can most effectively be reached, what to say, and when to say it to them? The real impact of your current marketing spend? Which customers you are in danger of losing? How much waste there is in your supply chain? I could go on, but the answer to every question is “what does the data tell us?”
At this point I should clear up some misconceptions. First, more data is not always better – you need to collect the right data. Start with the business problem and work back from there. Second, you are only as good as your technology – get the right data architecture in place. Third, data is not only the privy of large, wealthy companies or technically savvy start-ups. It does not cost the Earth, you do not have to be a technical expert to make it work for you and you will get a swift ROI. I wish I had known this in previous roles leading smaller organisations. It’s time to start asking the right questions of your data. You need this more than the large companies do to compete.
I know it can seem overwhelming. Hiring huge teams and buying lots of solutions is not the answer. Start with getting the building blocks right – sort out your data architecture, and get the right business intelligence in place. I cannot recommend Sisense highly enough for this. It helps me run my business every day. It offers a holistic understanding of your business and its patterns of a kind you’ve likely never seen, and critically, something user-friendly which ensures the data is in the hands of every one of your team so they take the next best action. When you feel confounded there are resources online and, of course, companies like Profusion can help. The most important thing to remember is data is not only accessible to everyone but necessary for everyone to compete in this changing market.
by Natalie Cramp, CEO, Profusion
A white paper by SmartCitiesWorld news editor Sue Weekes focuses on smart cities that use their smart lighting networks as a springboard for broader smart city roll-outs.
Smart lighting is a mature technology with a short time-to-value and a high percentage of cost reduction. Paris, for example, has achieved a 35 per cent reduction in energy costs over the past eight years. The savings in operation and maintenance (O&M) alone are sufficient to justify the cost: maintenance workers are either automatically alerted or, thanks to smart technology-enabled predictive maintenance and remote repair work, don’t even need to be at the scene to eliminate the problem, which results in considerable reductions in truck roll costs.
Many IoT sensors and devices can be mounted on lamp posts, from noise sensors, pedestrian counters and smart cameras to electric vehicle (EV) chargers, SOS buttons and LED displays. In the French capital there are even plans to introduce green light poles to create “islands of freshness” which both fight the summer heat and harvest rainwater.
A new investment model ensures that once the underlying smart network – whether based on lighting, watering or a safety function – has been built by a city, no additional applications will cost it any money, as developers will finance the deployment of new applications on the back of the original infrastructure, thus generating revenue streams for the city. The white paper suggests that the best way to garner public support for smart city projects is to start small and prove the value of IoT technology by running an initial project, then move on to the next one.
Opening up access to smart city datasets for developers and entrepreneurs is a logical step to overcome city governments’ limitation of producing innovation from data. More than 200 smart cities around the world now have smart city initiatives – the latest being Shanghai, the first Chinese city to join the club, in October 2019. In cities where local government departments have digitalised their data and smart data collection has already started, cities can aggregate and release their open data in open data portals. By setting up open data portals, city governments can ensure data is available in machine-readable structured format. However, they’ll need to select fault-tolerant, load-balanced, scalable and highly secure portal infrastructure to avoid bottlenecks and security risks.
As the global urban population is expected to grow by 2.5 billion by 2050, more and more governments have adopted a strategy of building metropolises from scratch, mostly on land reclaimed from the sea or in the desert.
One of these smart city templates is the South Korean city of Songdo. Built on 600 hectares of reclaimed land 19 miles southwest of Seoul, the habitation has a current population of 100,000. The US developer that the Korean government formed a joint venture with to realise the project has since marketed its “city-in-a-box” kit. The ventures are not without their problems or criticisms, however. To read about other examples, as well as the typical issues smart cities built from scratch all over the world are facing, click here.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Matthew Evans, Director at techUK, explores how digitally twinning national infrastructure can help today, while building a national twin will do the same for tomorrow.
In December 2017 the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) released its Data for the Public Good report, in which it recommended a “digital twin” of Britain’s infrastructure be developed to help plan, predict and understand our assets.
When this report was released, there was scepticism in the tech sector about whether this was realistic and whether there was the willingness to make the changes required to deliver this from the infrastructure side. We are pleased to say that we are seeing progress in addressing these questions, and we are more convinced of the value in tackling a challenge of such unprecedented proportions than ever. We want a national digital twin – a Brit-twin, if you will!
A digital twin can most simply be described as a realistic digital representation of something physical. A more detailed description could be that it “integrates artificial intelligence, machine learning and software analytics with data to create living digital simulation models that update and change alongside their real-life counterparts.” 
They can provide comprehensive, almost real-time insights into a physical asset or service,  meaning that asset owners can better test, plan and manage the asset. If you have been on an airliner recently, you have enjoyed the benefits of digital twin technology. Rolls-Royce is a noted user of digital twin technology, using it to examine, understand and predict how an engine will react in varied contexts, including extreme conditions.
The UK already has the technological capabilities necessary for delivering a national digital twin, but this exciting opportunity does not solely rely on the technical aspect. It will require continued strong leadership and ambition from government, but will only be delivered by a coordinated, collaborative approach involving the tech, construction and infrastructure sectors. This will involve changes in business practices and processes, but the tech sector stands ready and willing to be a partner on this journey. It is also important that we bring everyone on the digital twin journey with us. Realising the full economic and social potential of a national digital twin will only be possible if we build trust and confidence in this data-driven project from the beginning. After all, it is worth remembering that the name of that NIC report was “Data for the Public Good”.
So, how do you get from an airline engine or ticket barriers on the underground to a national digital twin while building that trust? There are two challenges which are of vastly different scale. There is the need to define what a national digital twin will be and what it will require. But at the same time, we need to start driving uptake of digital twin technologies across a variety of industries. These two processes need to take place simultaneously, but we are confident that sufficient progress is being made in each to create a virtuous circle rather than two isolated tracks.
On defining what a national digital twin would be, we have the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) which hosts the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG). These bodies are helping to shape our understanding of a national digital twin and, crucially, they bring together both the infrastructure, tech and academic spheres. There is widespread agreement that a national twin will not be one all-encompassing computer model of every infrastructure asset in the country. What we are on track to see, as developed by the DFTG, is “an ecosystem of digital twins that are connected by securely shared data” .
Delivering the Brit-twin will be a challenge, but one that the tech sector is ready and willing to help make happen from a technology viewpoint.
The DFTG has also recently published a roadmap of how a framework for information management would enable the creation of a national digital twin . This builds on the Gemini Principles , which set out the values and objectives of a digital twin to ensure that they remain for the public good.
So far, so good. But what is the value for those creating digital twins at a bigger scale then an aeroplane engine but smaller than a national model? That is where we need to start small and build the business case – because it will not just be about creating a model, it will also be about digital transformation of the construction and infrastructure sectors, traditionally regarded as digital laggards .
techUK has been working with our members and infrastructure operators who are starting to seriously consider scalable digital twins. The key is that they are aimed at addressing specific business challenges, be that leakages in the water sector, air quality around the strategic road networks or having a better understanding of the demands that electric vehicles place on the distribution network. These are big questions, but by starting relatively small we can build a business case for a twin which should be able to bring additional insight and value into those businesses – as well as contributing to a national ecosystem.
Delivering the Brit-twin will be a challenge, but one that the tech sector is ready and willing to help make happen from a technology viewpoint. The industrial strategy set out a grand challenge to “put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution” .
With our “world leading data science research capability and AI expertise”, the UK has a unique opportunity to position itself as an ambitious trailblazer for the development and application of digital twin technology scalable to sizes yet to be seen around the world.
In order to do so, we need to think big while starting small. techUK will continue to engage in the work at a national level while also working with infrastructure operators and owners, and our members, to drive implementation of digital twins.
by Matthew Evans, Director, techUK
Smart City Expo World Congress (Barcelona) discusses the role cities play in solving the greatest global challenges.
With increasing environmental footprints, growing urban populations and resource consumption forecasts, there is a strong argument that sustainable cities may be the best and possibly only opportunity to tackle today’s critical challenges.
Smart solutions can be a key part of this. The smart city has turned from concept to reality, as cities and companies move from small proof-of-concept projects to smart implementation at scale. New governance models and new approaches to equity and circular economies have also emerged, along with IoT, artificial intelligence, drones, self-driving cars and new forms of micromobility. New ways of processing and distributing information, such as blockchain and IOTA, have also come into the picture. Technology is and will be the backbone of smart cities, but the approach has shifted to a more complex vision, where the citizen is at the centre of everything, and the decision-making process is no longer top-down.
Cities have become socio-economic and political actors on both national and global stages, and have a major impact on the development of nations. Six hundred top cities represent 60 per cent of worldwide GDP, while the world expects to have 43 megacities (cities with more than 10 million people) by 2029. So we need to keep on exploring new paths, reinventing places and scenarios, drawing new maps of our imagination, as we know there’s no one-size-fits-all formula and we still have the opportunity to make things happen just the way we need them to be.
Smart City Expo World Congress is the annual meeting point for worldwide cities. For three days, Barcelona becomes the global hub where the city of tomorrow is realised. Leaders from the most innovative cities and organisations will come together to reveal the latest innovations addressing the biggest challenges cities face today: digital disruption, sustainability, clean and efficient mobility, open governance, and inclusive and collaborative solutions.
by Smart City Expo World Congress
Industry players, policy makers, entrepreneurs and academia from around the globe will join forces to empower cities, open new paths for international collaboration, and collectivise urban innovation. In 2020, Smart City Expo World Congress will celebrate its 10th anniversary (November 17-19), and something big is coming up. Stay tuned to smartcityexpo.com.
Smart city events, expos and get-togethers to add to your calendar
Smart Cities UK – International Conference and Exhibition
Now in its fifth year, Smart Cities UK has established itself as a forum for learning among UK cities and towns looking to meet economic and social challenges. The 2020 edition examines the barriers that remain in place for economic and social growth, and also sees the third annual Smart Cities UK awards. Click here for more details.
URBAN FUTURE Global Conference
Europe’s largest event for sustainable cities takes place this year in the Portuguese capital. A great opportunity to meet “city changers” and thought leaders who are at the cutting edge of smart city development, this years themes include mobility, water, districts and leadership. Click here for more details.
Smart Island Live
East Cowes,Isle of Wight
The second Smart Island event will focus on the technology and sustainability of the food, water, waste and built environment sectors. Visitors can browse the expo, listen to inspiring speakers or sit in on business support seminars. Click here for more details.
Smart to Future Cities
Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London
A conference that brings together local authorities with specific solutions to empower the implementation of sustainable technology. The focus of the event is on practical, scalable applications of smart city initiatives that can improve urban infrastructure and the quality of life. Click here for more details.
by Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Today, about 20 per cent of the more than five billion existing IoT endpoints are physical security devices, including video surveillance cameras. Iotforall.com examines how “a technology that once relied on bundles of [co-axial] cable strung together in a room full of grainy monitors has become one of the most prevalent internet-enabled solutions of our time”.
Although internet protocol (or IP) cameras have been around for about 20 years, they took a long time to gain widespread adoption. Their benefits include advanced integrations, remote access and improved archival and evidence retrieval capabilities. When combined with other technologies – such as smart cards and LIDAR video – they have huge potential in access management and smart city applications too. To learn more, click here.
Smart cities projects have often been criticised in the past for being too technology-centred and ignoring the people who live in cities and their needs.
Recently, however, the narratives about IoT and other cutting-edge technologies driving citizen engagement seem to be on the rise. Such success stories range from encouraging citizens to report problems by making the process completely hassle-free – or even gamifying it, in the case of Boston’s Street Bump scheme – to those where citizens take the initiative with the help of digital technologies to sort out a problem local authorities have failed to address.
Nigel Jacob, co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall on how IoT should be harnessed to solve grave urban problems such as poverty, crumbling infrastructure and the effects of climate change, gives a TEDxTalk on the subject here. For more general detail about these varieties of digital citizen engagement, click here.
“Safe Cities” are a global network of smart cities incorporating facial and number-plate recognition technology supplied by Huawei to fight high crime rates. There is disagreement about the efficiency of these solutions, with many experts arguing that the figures quoted by Huawei are exaggerating. An account from CBS on the Serbian roll-out of the project, with 1,000 cameras over 800 locations, illustrates why the project is regarded by a number of communities as rather contentious. The Safe City system is used in some 230 cities in Asia, Africa and Europe, currently screening tens of millions of people.
The consensus runs that three major megatrends will change urban life globally: mass urbanisation, aging populations and the climate crisis. In order to combat these issues head-on, cities need to reverse-engineer their urban strategies from where they want to be in 2050, suggests an article by sustainability and cleantech expert Wal van Lierop.
The future-proof smart city strategy van Lierpop proposes is to “think big, not small”. Cities need to build new, smart and sustainable infrastructure from their cores into surrounding municipalities. “These intentional megacities will form bigger legal entities that can provide transportation, housing, work and services more efficiently and cheaply,” he argues.
But as future cities will be saddled with protecting their populations from the negative effects of climate change, they may also need to have more in common with the fortified castle towns of the middle ages than the sprawling metropolitan areas of the present day. The right strategy, once decided upon, should inform the city’s decisions regarding the type of smart city ecosystems that it wants to deploy. Cities, van Lierpop maintains, will also need to adopt a more collective approach to get good results.
A new edition of community digitalisation guru Bas Boorsma’s smart city transition roadmap A New Digital Deal: Beyond Smart Cities contains a new chapter on each of the 20 building blocks of urban community digitalisation, ranging from leadership and vision to smart regulation and community communications.
Boorsma interviewed various stakeholders for the book including heads of major city projects, representatives of large tech enterprise, academia and other key influencers. What came across from these interviews was that the time is now ripe for a digital consensus on what humanity wants to achieve with digitalisation, and how it should be facilitated in order to reap the maximum communal benefits. Without such a deal, “digital divides will expand, digital disruption will just disrupt, innovation will largely be governed by incrementalism, and societal challenges will remain under-addressed,” Boorsma concludes.
The book is aimed at a wide audience: politicians, civil servants, smart city programme leaders and leaders of tech start-ups or telco companies, to name a few. The revised 2020 edition has two new sections on the future of residential real estate development and management, and the impact of digitalisation and an expanded chapter on smart city pitfalls.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter