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Guides Use Cases How Will Smart Cities Influence Construction?

How Will Smart Cities Influence Construction?

Published on 12/12/2016 | Use Cases

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Mark Perkins

I help people and businesses understand how the insight derived from data and analytics can make a practical, meaningful difference to their working day – every day.  For me analytics and business insight are meaningless if they aren’t aligned with key company objectives. I therefore take the time to build long term relationships with my clients and understand their long term goals. I get to know the business problems and appreciate their aspirations. I provide comprehensive consultation and help implement winning strategies rather than merely selling products.



The Emergence of Smart Cities

One of the most practical, exciting and above all real applications for the Internet of Things is Smart Cities. The vision for Smart Cities is to improve the quality of life for residents and workers through securely and dynamically integrating multiple IT systems and solutions for efficiencies, communication and visibility. This would ensure a city’s assets and services are all linked – from water and power supply networks to traffic systems, through law enforcement and waste-management, down to schools, hospitals and prisons.

Some of the commonly mentioned promises and goals of Smart Cities include, but are not limited to, the following: reducing traffic congestion, saving energy, improving public safety and improving services.

This isn’t just more futurology; it’s a real vision being taken up by governments and local councils globally. 

So why is this timely for UK construction? Smart Cities as a concept has been on the government’s radar since the 2013 publication The Smart City Market: Opportunities for the UK and continues to be a focus in Construction 2025.  At the beginning of this year, HyperCatCity announced the launch of the Smart Cities initiative building on the £8m government investment from Innovate UK, and today it sits strongly in the government’s strategic agenda for the upcoming years.


Innovation Hubs

Cities have always been places of opportunity and innovation, and even with the growth of mobile technology and the internet, urban production seems to be accelerating. Recent estimates say that 80% of global GDP is generated in cities. The current megatrends of rapid urbanisation, climate change and resource depletion are most keenly felt in cities, which are now starting to address the challenges of this new urban context. All of which goes to underline that cities as innovation hubs continue to present huge opportunities for construction companies, as well as suppliers of smart technologies.

An estimated global market size of $220bn is forecast by 2020 for smart grid technology globally, whilst $500bn will be spent globally on smart grid initiatives by 2030. This valuation includes an estimation of the smart technologies which will be used, the amount spent on innovation, on design consultancy and engineering, on infrastructure development and installation, on ICT, software and analytics and on automation and control.

“Smart City should enable every citizen to engage with all the services on offer, public as well as private, in a way best suited to his or her needs. It brings together hard infrastructure, social capital including local skills and community institutions, and (digital) technologies to fuel sustainable economic development and provide an attractive environment for all.”

(Smart Cities: Background Paper)

Where do analytics and big data sit within that?

Big data is central to Smart Cities. Every Smart City initiative will need to capture, store and analyse a colossal amount of data, generated by multiple sources, to transform it into useful insight that helps authorities with their decision-making processes.

A clear example of how big data contributes to the development of Smart City projects can be demonstrated by the Republic of Korea. The project to create the Smart City of Songdo started in 2000 and is expected to be fully completed by 2018, with an overall estimated cost of $35bn.

Songdo was created “from scratch” from reclaimed land. IT was, at time of construction, physically built into every street, home and building in a “future proof” way. Among other things, advanced analytics helps with:

·        Traffic – RFID and geolocation technologies help prevent build-up and manage flow responsively

·        Smart Energy grids – measuring presence of people in particular places

·        Reducing emissions – sensors and central units combine

·        Parking – sensors guide vehicles to the nearest available spot

Environmental Sustainability is a key tenet of Smart City thinking. Big data allows authorities to see how their outputs are having a positive or negative result on the city as a whole. Being able to check and control levels of pollutants can help with zoning and directing future construction. This monitoring helps identify which technologies work best in reducing pollution, and points to which innovations could be used to proactively prevent environmental damage.

“With all this complexity, attention is turning to how smart communications technologies and data analytics can be used to help shape, define and validate Smart City roadmaps.”

Scott Stallard, Vice President, Black & Veatch’s power business. 

What does it mean for the construction industry now?

Like nothing else, the Smart City agenda proves the growing importance of data and analytics in the construction industry. So what can companies do today to make sure they’re ready to lead the development of the cities of tomorrow? Make sure you put data insight at the heart of all you do, to understand where the future is heading rather than having to play catch-up later.

We’ve published an industry report, which gives you much more insight into all of this. You can read it here. And do keep an eye open for future blogs.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

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