Future city

What makes a smart city?

What makes a smart city? What makes a successful smart home device? The answer from last week’s Smartsummit conference is clear – unless humans catch up, collaborate & share, this could be a new technology revolution on a slow cook speed.

The magnitude of developing a smart city is immense. Most speakers at the summit – whether government, startup or corporate – had very different views of their role in the process & what ‘smart city’ even means.

At a discussion panel covering the preparation for 5G in cities worldwide, there was general agreement that government had a central role to play in enabling its potential success, but circling that consensus was a concern: were the right people leading the charge in government? Were all the different departments joining forces, sharing intelligence, connecting & collaborating?

An insightful case study was shared by Richard Marijs from T Mobile. A city in the Netherlands was in the process of upgrading one of their streets. Through some enlightened planning, the process became a joined up work project between the local government’s IT, infrastructure & maintenance departments. Road furniture such as lamp-posts became multi purpose structures: containers for housing a range of devices & the latest connected technology available.

Julian David from TechUK expressed concern about the City of London’s ability to blueprint this example. Departments are currently “too fragmented” to enable speedy innovation.

On a positive note, it was good to hear the UK leading the way in Europe for adopting connected home device culture.  At a fireside chat, examining the consumer shopping cycle, retailers including John Lewis shared that voice control products such as Alexa & Siri are predicted to top this Christmas’ most wanted list.

All retailers universally agreed that product education is key. Whether in-store Gurus or online support, customers need to feel confident to experiment with new technology & have a good support service when things go wrong.

This 2017 Smartsummit conference presented some of the exciting & developing IoT frontiers with a clear message that sharing & collaboration is key to building homes & cities of the future. However the most memorable new technology story for me revealed itself in the shape of Amy from Amy Robotics. The company showcased a new series of cute wide-eyed robots designed, amongst many other things, to provide assisted home care for the elderly and the lonely. #techforgood.





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