The inspiring innovators of Smart Cities

modern city at night with financial background

Image Source: Enterprise Nation

Recently I joined the Digital Cities Forum 2017 at our Crystal building in London to listen to speakers share new insights into how our cities are changing.

I left the event feeling inspired about the future for Smart Cities.

You may have read my March blog on the topic of Smart Cities where I shared some of the key reasons behind becoming a Smart City and with this in mind, I’d like to report back on my findings and learnings from the Digital Cities event.

The Forum saw expert presenters deliver their digitalization insights into the Smart City future as well as share what exciting projects they were currently working on, with references from Singapore, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Vienna and Greenwich to mention a few.

As I listened to each presentation throughout the day, I was blown away by the rate at which technology is being deployed. The breadth of Smart City pilots that are currently in implementation across the globe is incredible!

The speakers gave many convincing reasons why they wanted their cities to become Smart Cities and as I made notes, I clustered the examples given around the six main reasons for becoming a Smart City which I highlighted in my March blog:

“Why become a Smart City?”

(i) … deliver better, more reliable and connected services

The stand out example came from Singapore. An alternative urban logistics plan has been deployed to consolidate deliveries offsite before final delivery of the shipments into the city. The logistic strategy had been enabled by data, using this data to connect delivery truck services which allowed more efficient planning. This initiative has resulted in a 25% increase in delivery truck utilization and an annual reduction of 14.8m tonnes of CO2.

All of this had been achieved through logistics, without any changes to the manufacturing process. As Juergen Maier, our Siemens UK CEO,  commented, imagine what further improvements could be brought to our Smart Cities if we used localized 3D printing to ultimately eliminate the need to ship small components across the globe.


(ii) …….to manage increased demand caused by urbanization

Data sources in Amsterdam show that even on current levels, 30% of the cars in this major city are used less than once a week. If we map out the predicted growth in our major global cities due to urbanization, it’s clear that unless something different is done, urban traffic congestion is going to become even more inefficient. Part of the solution to addressing this challenge is going to be dependent upon the role autonomous vehicles play in the future.

The interesting developments in this area came from three sources: (i) Greenwich and Ocado are piloting the use of autonomous delivery vehicles from GATEway; (ii) Uniti  have ripped up the classic automobile designs based upon 100 years of the combustion engine – instead designing based upon electric power and autonomous driving and (iii) with 50% more demand for transportation services expected in London by 2030, autonomous trains on the tube could add an extra 40% capacity to the existing infrastructure.


(iii) ……. to reduce demand on scarce resources

Aspern  in Vienna has been an interesting development covering an area of 2.4 million square metres for approx. 20,000 residents. Technologies that have been deployed are Distributed Energy Networks, Smart Grid, home automation and demand management within building to optimize their energy needs. All aimed at minimizing energy demands within this smart town.


(iv) …….to reduce costs and

(v)  .……to gain efficiencies from our changing energy generation landscape

 There was a proposal made to put CHP technology into every existing public building in London so that by 2030 there would be a 30% reduction in energy consumption

The Mindsphere IoT platform was showcased and specifically power grid software and digital solution. Digital Services could be offered from infrastructure changes utilizing CHP, HVDC, Digital Grids and Storage technologies.


(vi) …….to empower visitors with more information & choice

A wonderful example was shared from Sentosa Island where digital technology has been implemented to improve the customer’s experience and deliver more choice.

Technologies such as:

  • facial recognition;
  • alerts to smart wearable devices;
  • cashless payment;
  • resort analytics; and
  • even offering the customer a digital virtual assistant.

The ultimate impact has been delivered through connecting these technologies and integrating them into services all aimed at improving the visitors’ experience.

Another fascinating reference came from Tiina Kaho taking about Helsinki and its development of an Air Quality IoT network This will be the world’s first city wide air quality network giving residents both locally accurate air quality information as well as predictive modelling – another powerful initiative to empower city visitors to make informed choices.


Leaving the Forum, I felt that smart cities are well under way through the deployment of technology together with innovative ideas from inspiring citizens.

What I really enjoyed was the diversity of ideas emerging from these Smart Cities projects, from urban logistics to distributed energy to autonomous vehicles rather than focusing on just one area of city livability.

Joining the dots from the developments summarized above and many others will expose exciting patterns for the next Smart City advancements.

Watch this space 🙂




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s